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After Toddler Killed By Van, City Moves To Slow Traffic On NW Side Street

By  Heather Cherone and Alex Nitkin | December 8, 2016 2:35pm 

 Noah Katz, 2, died after being struck by a van in the 4700 block of North Central Avenue Sunday.
Noah Katz, 2, died after being struck by a van in the 4700 block of North Central Avenue Sunday.
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YouCaring/Alex Nitkin

CITY HALL — A measure designed to slow traffic along a stretch of Central Avenue in Jefferson Park where a toddler was struck and killed by a man driving a van on Nov. 13 advanced Thursday.

The City Council Committee on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety approved a measure crafted by Ald. John Arena (45th) to remove parking restrictions along Central Avenue between Higgins and Eastwood avenues during rush hour, which would turn the avenue into a permanent one-lane street.

Just after 4 p.m. Nov. 13, Noah Katz, 2, and his mother were crossing Central Avenue at a crosswalk when Alexander Vasquez, 48, made a left turn from Giddings Street and struck both of them, according to police.

Vasquez was issued five citations, including one for disregarding a stop sign and another for failing to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk, police said.

The measure is expected to be approved by the full Council Dec. 14.

Arena has also pledged to revive a proposal to extend sidewalks out into Central Avenue, a strip residents have long decried as a dangerous thoroughfare in a residential neighborhood.

Those extensions — known as "bump outs" — could be built in the spring, although the Chicago Department of Transportation rejected the effort last year.

A fundraising page for Noah's family collected more than $32,200.

Noah's parents, Rachel and Myron, are "some of the kindest, most loving people I know, and they had a beautiful son who they loved very much," said Mark Psilos, a longtime friend of the couple. "For people who know them, it's obvious why we'd all want to come together and support them. This loss has been felt by a lot of people."

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