Council Debates Options For Oswego’s Winter Parking Policy

OSWEGO, NY – As more snow continued to fall Monday night, the Common Council debated the pros and cons of the city’s current winter parking policy in an attempt to make things easier on residents and also enable the DPW to keep the streets snow-free.

“I’m asking you folks to do one thing, and that’s be a good neighbor. Work with the city. We’re all in this together,” Mayor Tom Gillen said in seeking the public’s patience as the city works toward a better solution. “It’s about being good citizens and that’s what I’m asking people to do.”

“I am not in favor of this current (parking) policy,” First Ward Councilor Fran Enwright said. “So many people are parking in the street now it is causing absolute chaos. The residents are even having a hard time just getting out of their driveway.”

He said he’d like to see parking banned altogether on some of the city’s narrower streets.

“Right now, things just aren’t working and it is a mess down in my ward,” he said.

Third Ward Councilor Mike Todd agreed, “It’s just not working.”

In some areas, especially near Leighton Elementary School, some residences have several vehicles parked so that they are blocking the sidewalk, making it a dangerous situation for youngsters walking to school, he said.

“I don’t know what the solution is. Right now, it’s not working. We need to end alternate parking, at least now, so that we have time to clean these streets up,” he said.

He urged the mayor to issue an emergency order and get all the cars off the streets so the DPW could get things cleaned up.

Currently, the roads aren’t safe to drive on, added Fifth Ward Councilor Bill Barlow.

Most residents in his ward wouldn’t be affected by a total parking ban since they have driveways, he pointed out.

He said he’d favor a full (24-hour) for one side of the street one day and the opposite side the following day.

When the city gets houses, for whatever reason, instead of “rehabbing them and selling them for next to nothing,” Todd suggested razing them and creating small parking lots.

“I do believe that 24-hour alternate parking is the way to go,” Seventh Ward Councilor Ron Kaplewicz said, adding, “We have a duty to provide some (parking) options for folks.”

Currently, people should understand that if their car is parked on the wrong side of the street, it’s going to get towed, he said.

Council President Eric VanBuren said he also agrees with a 24-hour parking ban.

The city will also address the parking issue overall in the city, he noted.

“There are things we need to address when we start this discussion,” he said.

Fourth Ward Councilor Shawn Walker said the 24-hour parking ban would allow the DPW to better be able to keep the streets cleared.

The overnight ban used to be 1 to 6 a.m.

But you can’t clear all the snow in just five hours, “there’s no possible way,” he said.

The council took no action Monday night.

It will continue the discussion in March.


  1. According to the Syracuse TV stations, you have no legal recourse against government agencies for damage to property caused by DPW vehicles unless they are reckless. Maybe the plows should pay more attention to plowing the streets and less attention to the illegally parked vehicles. After a few scraped up cars, I bet the drivers would get the picture.

  2. With or without the parking ban issue, Oswego has ALWAYS had plowing issues. Doesn’t anyone else remember 1977? This is not 1977, of course, but we do still have issues. I am in total agreement with a 24 hour alternate side parking ban, and DEFINITELY, an off the street SNOW EMERGENCY ban on any streets anywhere in the city.

    However, IF you do this, ALLOW landowners whether they rent their properties, or reside there themselves to park on lawns.But find alternative parking elsewhere anyway. As I wrote last week, we’ve changed the dynamics of parking spots, but maybe the churches would allow a one day moratorium on no parking in their lots for one or two nights so that the City DPW could clear the streets. The City would plow the church lot for them for free, and then neighbors could park there so that city streets could be plowed and cut back. Once the majority of snow is ‘hauled away’ to wherever it goes in winter (and I DO want a photo of THAT site in June to see how it’s all going), then we can maybe go back to alternate 24 HOUR PARKING.

    It’s scary now in our city. Banks are high at corners, and the younger and older folks don’t always recognize that you have to slowly…negotiate out of driveways, and at each corner (no barrelling down the streets with no stop signs at faster than even the 30 mph.

    SLOW DOWN FOLKS…you can’t really go up Cayuga Street/Schuyler Street at 30 mph when someone may be trying to get out of one of the side streets. SLOWER.

    And what about citing residents for not shoveling? I understand many of them are elderly, or worse, aren’t even here in winter, so sidewalks aren’t getting done…but the truth is, families with children shouldn’t HAVE to walk in the road, around parked cars, and trying to see over the huge snow piles at each corner. And I know how much work the DPW puts in (I hear the beeps) to clear as much as they can at night. They do a great job, no complaints there! I use to live somewhere else, and I appreciate how well our city does in this regard.

    This issue is not new, historically. However, it DOES need a resolution. But please provide alternatives if you are changing policy. I suspect some folks bought their westside homes based on street parking. MANY homes in my third ward do not have ‘sufficient’ parking at any time of the year for these old-fashioned neighborhoods (IOW: pre-auto!). But we also have offer ‘variances’ through zoning with caution. Across the street from me are 12 residents in a ‘former’ single family home whose landlord at the time (worked for the city btw) who got a variance for 10 parking spots because at the meeting he showed he could ‘fit’ 10 cars in a sideyard railroad style (in summer). On any given winter night, the four who park there struggle to get out around the snow. The rest park on the lawn, on the sidewalk, and between another two houses. But it’s still better than on the street! And the new property owner clears it out pretty well. However, then the snow goes into huge mounds (where else is it going to go) and the drivers can’t see to back out (and DO smash into drivers going down our street, saw one myself last week). So Zoning needs to consider the neighborhood and our weather, which we’ve seen they don’t always, when passing these variances (which are two years but never revert once they are established).

    We have this weather most years. I wish you luck figuring out how to solve this.

    Debbie Engelke

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