OSWEGO, NY – City officials are looking to shore up the Civic Arts Center in Fort Ontario Park.
At Monday’s Common Council meeting, Sandra Dowie told councilors how her daughter fell on the steps outside of the Art Association in April and sprained her ankle.
“She has been under doctor’s care and in physical therapy ever since,” she added.
They “graciously did not put the city on notice, in hopes that the steps would be fixed,” she said.
Though she believed something would be done right away; nothing has been done at the site, she said.
“It’s kind of like her life is on hold. And it makes us feel maybe we should revisit our earlier decision about not putting the city on notice,” she said.
There are also loose tiles on the roof and it makes you wonder, what is it going to take to get this job done? Does someone else have to get injured or possibly killed by a falling tile?” she said.
The Art Association, and the Oswego Players, host many events in that facility and they are worried about safety, she said.
“Something needs to be done and it needs to be done now,” she told the council.
Dr. Michael Nupuf also addressed the council in regard to the safety concerns at the site.
He showed councilors large photographs depicting the disrepair.
The Art Association and the Oswego Players do incredible work, he noted.
“Unfortunately, over the last 20 years, I’ve seen a significant deterioration in the structure of the building housing these two organizations,” he said.
The facility currently looks like a boarded up railroad station rather than a civic arts center, he added.
Maintenance at the building hasn’t been kept up as well as it should be over time, he added.
The steps he said “are dangerous.”
“I am concerned that if too many people were to be on that walkway (to the Players’ side of the facility), there is a possibility that it could collapse,” he said.
The handicap access ramp has also deteriorated to the point where there are nails and boards lifting up and not allowing a handicapped individual access to the building, he added.
“This is a municipal building, which is no longer handicap accessible,” he said. “I am sure you don’t want that situation to occur.”
About a week ago, the city took over a house because the individual who owned it didn’t keep up the maintenance, he pointed out.
Kelly Mahan of the Art Association urged to the city to take proper care of the facility.
“It doesn’t look like the gem that it should be,” she said. “That building is about 50 years old. It needs some work.”
The groups in it are much older, she noted. In fact, the Oswego Players will celebrate their 75th year in 2013.
“We are the oldest community theater group in the nation,” she said. “You have something special here. It just needs a little bit of care, a little bit of TLC. We are doing our best at keeping the inside looking great. The outside should look more like it is housing activities; like it’s something that the city is proud of.”
According to a July 2012 Oswego County Today article:
The building that houses the two arts organizations is in need of much repair.
The city is looking at repairing the concrete entranceway; there are large cracks in some sections where you can see down to the ground several feet below. At one end, the metal railing is falling off.
In some places, the old building just needs a fresh coat of paint.
Other areas are more cause for concern. The flashing and sections of the slate roof are in disrepair. There are also holes rotted into the boards covering many of the windows. And, squirrels have gotten into the theater through a hole in the wall on the side of the facility.
The building has been an arts center since 1964. With a tighter budget recently, the city is hard pressed to keep up with the maintenance. As part of the lease deal, the city is supposed to keep up the outside of the building.
Oswego Mayor Tom Gillen told Oswego County Today that he’s met with Mary Vanouse, community development director, on Tuesday to discuss grant money availability.
“I will meet with Mike Smith, DPW commissioner, on Thursday to get a work schedule for repair and restore work,” he said. “This is a priority.”