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City of Tonawanda to vote tonight on closing Young Street for 6 months

The Common Council is expected to vote in favor of closing a portion of Young Street for the next six months and putting a temporary ice rink on the street when it meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall.

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

A large turnout of residents in City Hall late last summer overwhelming favored the plan, which would 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. This closing has been eyed as the first step in changing the area from a street to a community gathering area.

Mayor Rick Davis said about 3,200 vehicles per day use this section of Young Street - 1,800 going westbound and 1,400 eastbound. The road closure would divert some of this traffic through the city's central business district.

Brian J. Kulpa, an engineer and senior associate at Clark, Patterson and Lee, presented the plan to close the street in late 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 also part of the plan. Kulpa said the realignment would keep traffic flowing at what is currently a "confusing intersection."

Kulpa said the Young Street proposal is part of the Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan.

Residents told the city leaders in August that they favored using Young Street as a mixed-use destination with a park and some small businesses.

If approved, the closing is expected to begin Dec. 27, in advance of the city's first ball drop, "New Year's Rockin' at the Hub," from 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. on Dec. 31. 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, said Mayor Rick Davis.

He said the city will also open a Farmer's/Artisan Market on Young Street in the spring.

Council will consider a proposal to close the section of Young Street to traffic through June 1. The limited closing is expected to allow for further review of of the actual effects on both 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, noted Davis.

Crazy Jake's restaurant has donated a ball for the New Year's Eve drop. It will be dropped from a city fire department ladder truck. Finger foods will be provided by Smoke on the Water restaurant and there will also be live music, kid's activities, beer, wine and non-alcoholic drinks.

The ball drop will be followed by fireworks, which will be presented along the canal from the opposite side of Long Homestead Bridge.


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