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City of Tonawanda Common Council closes Young Street for 6 months

The City of Tonawanda Common Council approved closing part of Young Street for the next six months — and approved plans to put a temporary ice rink on the street for the winter.

The Council approved the measure by a 4-1 vote. Fourth Ward Councilman Tim Toth rejected the closure.

Toth said he felt there had not been a clear plan for developing the area and had also heard from residents who lived in the adjacent Tower apartments concerned about emergency vehicle access.

A plan for permanent closure of the street will be made by May 1.

Residents who turned out in August at City Hall favored the plan, which will close the street from Broad Street to Main Street in front of the new intermodal hub. The street is often closed for special events, such as Canal Fest.

The closing has been eyed as the first step in changing the area from a street to a community gathering space.

Mayor Rick Davis said about 3,200 vehicles per day use this section of Young Street. The closure would divert some of the traffic through the city's central business district.

Brian J. Kulpa, an engineer and senior associate at Clark, Patterson and Lee, presented the plan in August. He said the closing is designed to bring more traffic downtown by encouraging drivers to pass through the city, rather than going around it. A new roundabout at Young and Broad streets to calm traffic is part of the plan.

Kulpa said the realignment would keep traffic flowing at what is a "confusing intersection."

The Common Council voted to begin the closure on Dec. 27.

That will be just before the city's first ball drop, "New Year's Rockin' at the Hub," which is set for Dec. 31, from 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.

A 30-by-60 foot portable ice rink will be set up on Young Street for the ball drop and is expected to remain in place through the winter, Davis said.

The vote Tuesday by the Council approved the closure of the section of Young Street to traffic through June 1. The limited closing is expected to allow for further review of the effects on residential and business traffic.

Whether the closing will remain permanent will be up to the next Common Council, which will be seated in January and includes three new members, Davis said.

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