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September 25, 2018

City Officials’ Walk Reveals Positives, Problems


OSWEGO, NY – Several blocks along the eastern end of Oswego’s First Ward were placed under the microscope Monday.

Mayor Tom Gillen was joined by a half dozen city officials to get a first-hand look at what is right in the ward, what the problems are and where there is room for potential.

Garbage and tall grass was a common problem in parts of the First Ward

Garbage and tall grass was a common problem in parts of the First Ward

“We have some problems here, similar to other wards. But there is also a lot of good things going on,” said First Ward Councilor Fran Enwright. “We want to correct the little issues before they become big problems and encourage the residents to continue improving their property.”

Some of the properties were well maintained and had manicured lawns as neat as the greens on a golf course.

On the other side of the coin were homes with unkempt lawns, buildings in disrepair, furniture in the yards, illegally parked vehicles and other violations.

“We’re not doing these walking tours just for show,” director of Code Enforcement Neal Smith said as he jotted down notes at various sites. “We’re not trying to punish people. We want to point out problems and get them corrected so this can be the kind of city everyone wants to live in.”

Mayor Tom Gillen examines a living room chair discarded along side the street in one section of the First Ward on Monday.

Mayor Tom Gillen examines a living room chair discarded along side the street in one section of the First Ward on Monday.

In several sections of the ward, the homes were pristine. However, there were spots where dilapidated houses were sandwiched in between nice homes.

“You have a very nice block, and then, this happens,” Enwright said pointing out one such rundown property.

Further to the west, it’s a somewhat different story, Smith pointed out.

“That’s where most of the student housing is. It’s probably almost 90 percent rental in that area,” he said.

The councilor also expressed his desire to create a small park at the International Marina; perhaps even including a sandy beach area.

Mayor Tom Gillen, right, and Council President Ron Kaplewciz discuss what can be done to clean up some of the properities in the First Ward.

Mayor Tom Gillen, right, and Council President Ron Kaplewciz discuss what can be done to clean up some of the properities in the First Ward.

“There is a lot of potential here,” the mayor said. “Things aren’t just going to happen overnight. It’s going to take a lot of work.”

“It’s good that we are doing these walks; that people see us out here,” said Council President Ron Kaplewicz (Seventh Ward). “We are taking an interest in the entire city. It’s not just our own wards; we’re looking at the city as a whole and trying to find ways to improve it for all the residents.”

2 Responses “City Officials’ Walk Reveals Positives, Problems”

  1. May 22, 2012 at 12:49 am

    To Mayor Tom Gillen and council and code enforcement. This is a great thing you all are doing to try to get our city looking better. Keep up the great work.

  2. Debbie Engelke
    May 22, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    New transplants from other regions must notice that we have a city with ‘mixed neighborhoods.’ In the era of construction when I first settled here, there seemed to be more owner-occupied neighborhoods at first that changed over to rentals as the decades went by. Although they weren’t always pristine, there seemed to be more tree lined avenues back then (including my 3rd ward street because I have photos), and more city streets without a glut of autos. It seems everyone needs a car now, even though residents of other cold-weather regions (say in Sweden) use alternative forms of transport with no shame (it’s embarrassing to take the buses in Oswego!).

    I understand that landlords need to pay their mortgages, too, but when we over-extend resources, as has been done for decades, this is what we get…an “inner city look.” Now, with the construction completed, including the new housing on-campus, we have a lot of buildings with apartments that rent to individuals and families who have been hard-hit by the economy, and don’t have the money to keep their space pristine. That is no excuse for not mowing of course (an inexpensive weed wacker will often do the job), and not putting inside furniture outside, but it does explain some of the blight. Former administrations didn’t have the foresight to recognize that this is what eventually happens, even though single-family residents complained about this, variances were passed that ever-after have not been enforced.

    Many of those with financial resources to move to our surrounding suburban areas did so, and Oswego now has many, many such developments. Those that choose to remain in the city for whatever reason (although economics is the biggest single reason with few truly high paying jobs in our city), are stuck with possibly a nice home bookended by two not so much.

    I praise those counselors who go around and keep the ‘garbage’ down, lawns mowed, automobiles in their slots. We DO need to require landlords to adhere to the zoning laws that they agreed to when they purchased the buildings AT the very LEAST in the non-parking ban months. In winter, it’s quite difficult in a city built prior to the advent of the auto, but, it can be achieved with the least amount of disruption if ALL residents follow the laws. This doesn’t often happen, and in summer, we still have tenants who park on lawns and green spaces because these are the spots they’ve been told are theirs for winter by their landlords, and habits are hard to break.

    We can’t rescue our city from former variances, but we can keep it to a minimum, which is what I believe the counselors are trying to do.

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