AUBURN — The city is considering closing Chestnut Street near the Auburn Police Activities League Center to increase safety and enhance the surrounding recreational fields. 

Instead of being used for cut-through traffic, the portion of Chestnut would become green space, likely used for PAL Center activities and an ice rink in the winter. 

Phil Crowell, Auburn’s new assistant city manager as of Monday, told the City Council during a workshop the main goal of the project is to eliminate cut-through traffic on the street, pushing motorists to the Union Street Bypass, which Crowell said was why the bypass was originally designed. 

Motorists currently use Chestnut as a cut-through between Winter and Webster streets, and as a way to avoid the bypass, Crowell said. 

Crowell also said it would provide “safer and easier access to green space for kids” by creating a comprehensive park. If the road closure is approved, preliminary plans show enhanced green space in the front of the PAL Center with additional parking to the right of the building. 

The PAL Center operates as a community center run by police and volunteers as an after-school program for Auburn youth. 

Crowell said the Recreation Department has plans to enhance the athletic fields behind the building, and that the portion currently used for a winter ice rink would move to the new Chestnut Street space. The playground equipment would also move to the new area. 

While some councilors said Monday they supported the proposal, others questioned its impact on local traffic and on homeowners closest to the project. 

Councilor Andrew Titus said “road closures always bother me” because it is difficult to know the impact they will have on people in the neighborhood.

“If it’s inconveniencing people too much, I’d like to know that,” he said, asking if there is a way to make the road safer rather than closing it. 

Crowell said the biggest impact from the project would be on the Chestnut Street neighbors. 

He said the project would be a beginning phase of connecting an “entire campus” of recreational areas between Pettengill and Chestnut parks. He said the Hasty Community Center; basketball courts; fields for soccer, lacrosse and football; and the PAL Center could be connected with a more pedestrian-friendly approach. 

According to a city memo, motorists will still have access to the parking lot on the Winter Street side, and motorists traveling from Webster Street will still have access to Walnut Street.

The city has $125,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding to do the Chestnut Street closure project, Crowell said.

“The first piece is closing Chestnut in a safe way,” he said. 

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A preliminary design shows a proposal to close off Chestnut Street in Auburn in order to create a safer and larger recreational area. (City of Auburn) 


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