A busy and awkwardly shaped intersection in the City of Tonawanda got a step closer to being downsized Tuesday. The Common Council voted to temporarily close a slip ramp on Young Street where Young, Delaware Street and Broad Street meet.
If traffic moves smoothly as a result of the closure, BBQ restaurant Smoke on the Water would be allowed to extend its limited parking onto the abandoned land.
“We accomplish two goals,” said Council President Carleton R. Zeisz. “We get rid of this slip that we don’t want anyway, and we benefit a local business by giving them additional parking area.”
Currently, the restaurant offers customer parking behind a nearby Walgreens, which requires patrons to cross Delaware and Young. With the ramp closed, motorists heading north on Young in the left lane will turn left or continue straight or make a right turn onto Delaware from the right-turn-only lane.
Ultimately, the Council hopes to downsize the six-way intersection to four. One option suggested by traffic studies would be to close off Young entirely and have it dead-end at Delaware with greenspace.
“That’s a poor intersection from a timing standpoint with the light as it is,” Zeisz said. “This should only help to improve it.”
Second Ward Councilman Blake R. Boyle said he has been stopped at the intersection for eight minutes while the green light cycles around.
“I’ve lived here for 36 years and those lights get me all messed up,” he said “There’s going to be an accident there sooner or later.”
First Ward Council candidate Paul Brunner questioned why the Council granted the restaurant’s request to expand when residents farther south on Young with no off-street parking – two of whom spoke out Tuesday – have been pleading with the Council for some accommodation. Overnight parking is banned year-round on city streets.
“I saw just a little issue where we were able to solve a restaurant’s problem in no time at all,” he said.
Zeisz promised to bring up the residents’ concerns at the Council’s first meeting in October.
The temporary ramp closure should take effect within the next two weeks, Boyle said.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting:
• The Council announced it is still discussing how to address the vacancy left by the resignation this month of former First Ward Councilwoman Heather D. Little, who moved outside the city.
Republican Charles Gilbert faces Brunner, a Democrat, in November’s election for the open seat.
• The city Fire Department presented letters of gratitude to Rick Neuhaus, owner of Squire’s Tap Room, for saving a choking diner by performing the Heimlich maneuver, and to two boat crews from John’s Towing who aided victims of a boating accident in July.