OSWEGO, NY – The city is exploring a couple of options on how to improve the quality of life in the First Ward.
At Monday night’s Planning and Development Committee meeting, Councilor Fran Enwright requested discussion regarding the restriction of access of DOT inspected vehicles in the First Ward (in residential sections), with the exception of emergency vehicles.
The idea is to quell the late-night noise created by passengers, mostly college students, using bus service to go to and from parties.
Third Ward Councilor Mike Todd pointed out the bus services aren’t the real problem.
The real problem, he said, is all the parties this time of year.
Enwright proposed prohibiting the vehicles access between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m.
“It looks to me like this would have to be a local law. It would have to be on for a public hearing. So the first resolution you’d have to pass would be to set a public hearing. The local law (or ordinance) would have to be in its final form at the time that is set,” City Attorney Gay Williams explained.
Then it would have to be advertised and a copy of the proposal would have to be available for public inspection.
There are considerations under the Vehicle and Traffic Law and under the Transportation Law, so the local law would “have to be carefully crafted within those limitations,” she added.
Enwright acquiesced that councilors can set up a meeting to discuss the issue with representatives of the bus companies; but said the city attorney should move forward with preparing a local law, also.
Al Chase, owner of a local bus company, pointed out that OCO buses pick people up at the emergency room at two or three O’clock in the morning and are taken back to their residence.
It seems the proposed law would also prevent those vehicles from accessing the area, he said.
“You can’t discriminate against one company over another. So, the enforcement would have to be wide-spread. It includes all UPS vehicles,” he said.
The only way the city can limit vehicles would be to put limits on axle weights, “you couldn’t just pick out a particular type or class of vehicle and forbid them from traveling on the road,” he said referring to research he did a few years ago when the topic first came up.
He suggested the councilors seek other ways to solve the problem, rather than creating laws that would be challenged in court.
He and Lee Walker, another bus company owner, are willing to sit down with the council and explore other options, he added.
Walker said he finds it disturbing that no one from the city called him to discuss the issue.
“I thought this was rectified a couple of years ago,” he said. “For something to come up like this, it’s almost embarrassing that we didn’t get the decency of a phone call. I had to find out about this from an alderman, not my brother (Shawn Walker).”
He reiterated that he and Chase are willing to sit down and discuss the matter with councilors.
“If you limit where we can go between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m. you’re going to have kids walking all over,” Lee Walker III added.
A First Ward resident said he had a problem with the buses.
It is noisy with buses coming and going all night long, he told the councilors.
“It keeps me awake; it keeps my family awake. It’s all night long,” he said.
“It’s about quality of life. It’s about being proactive instead or reactive,” Enwright said. “The buses are dropping off 50 people at a time. They’re making noise, throwing (beer) cups around. Totally unregulated access to the residential section … is something that the First Ward doesn’t want.”
Knate Emmons, a resident of the Third Ward, said he doesn’t have a problem with the buses running. It’s more of a safety issue, he said.
If you eliminate the buses, you’re not going to stop the parties in the area, Councilor Todd pointed out.
“You’re going to have these kids walking through your neighborhoods and causing even more of a problem,” he said. “Yes, the buses do cause noise. But, as the police will tell you, they also clear the neighborhood a lot quicker than having (students) walk around. We have to do something about the parties. The buses aren’t the issue.”
The college needs to get onboard and start addressing these problems, he said, adding, “Until then, we’re still going to have problems.”
“I’m willing to sit down and make things better. Mr. Walker is willing to sit down and make things better,” Chase said. “That’s the place to start. To try to eliminate the buses doesn’t cure the problem. We’re not the enemy. Sit down and talk with us.”
“I’m sure we can sit down and work this out,” Enwright agreed. “I’d like to do that. I want to work this out.”
No firm timetable for a meeting was established.