Utah Street closure causing headaches, concerns for East Toledoans

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - In East Toledo, Elaine Ribby is part of a seemingly growing list of neighbors who are upset over the permanent closure of Utah near Oakdale.

"I think they should open it up and find another way," Ribby said of the closure.

City crews blocked off a 1,000-foot section of the street on Wednesday in an effort to stop illegal dumping in the secluded area. After spending more than $32,000 to clean up the area last year, city leaders say a shutdown was the best option.

"We had to look carefully at what our best course of action was, and eliminating the opportunity for people to dump there was our first step," City of Toledo code enforcement commissioner Dennis Kennedy said.

Kennedy says the city consulted residents and first responders and even did a traffic study before taking action, but Ribby and her neighbors say they were left in the dark.

"I heard nothing, and I don't think any of the other neighbors here heard anything either," Ribby said.

"I'm very upset, and they didn't ask me," neighbor Patricia Staley said. "That’s an important road down there. What if the fire trucks have to go down through there?"

Less than 48 hours into the closure, Ribby says it's causing problems, particularly for her grandson's bus route.

"He can't walk by himself, he's autistic," Ribby said. "He has to be escorted to the bus, he has to be escorted off the bus."

Ribby says the driver is now only picking-up kids one block away at Hathaway and Utah all due to the shut down.

"There's no way for [the driver] to turn around, and you got to know the neighborhood I guess," Ribby said.

While she's making it work for now, Ribby says she wishes the city would look at other options and reopen her street once again.

"You think that's going to stop them?," Ribby said, referencing the people who illegally dump refuse on the road. "They'll pull up to the barricades and throw it over."

Toledo Public Schools says it's aware of the closure and is working to re-route students to stops closer to their homes. Leaders there say if any additional changes are made a representative will contact affected families directly.

In the meantime, new District Three councilmember Theresa Gadus is looking into the closure and says she plans to address the issue in council chambers.