Street closure to attract more business in Tonawanda, says common council

TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — City of Tonawanda leaders hope closing a street will accomplish attract more business to its downtown. The common council voted to shut down young street for the next six months Tuesday.

Dozens of cars cut through the city of Tonawanda using Young street near Delaware. That’ll change starting December 27th as the street will close from Main to Broad Street.

“We’re doing it for the city to try to make us more family friendly and to improve the environment of the downtown area,” said Jackie Smilinich, City of Tonawanda council member.

It’s part of the city’s plan to attract more visitors to the waterfront and through downtown. Young street will host many new special events like a New Year’s Eve ball drop and a temporary ice rink that will be put in next week.

“We’re not looking to be the same as Canal side or copy them, I think we want to be something unique something different, I think it’s a smaller scale and bring some people here as well from outside the community I think that’s what we want,” Council member Sean Rautenstrauch.

The Common Council voted to close young street for six months on Tuesday, as a trial run. Council member Sean Rautenstrauch says many people believe it’s a good move for the city.

While most members welcome the idea, Council member Timothy Toth says it’s premature.

“There needs to be a creative plan put forth with a vision as to what we want. I think we’re putting the cart before the horse by closing it down before we even know what that vision is,” said Council member Timothy Toth.

He says some people in the area are worried about traffic.

“Residents in the towers down there, they have some serious concerns about having emergency services being able to access that building in the event there’s an emergency there,” said Toth.

Council member Smilinich says drivers will now be redirected through downtown, but she says it’s a small price to pay for building a better waterfront.

Mayor Rick Davis says some traffic studies have already been conducted in the area. The long-term plan is to also have some apartments and stores in that area. The council says there’s already been some interest from developers. Members will have to decide to permanently close the street by May.

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