OSWEGO, NY – The Port City’s winter parking ban remains in effect.
After nearly an hour of public comment, the councilors discussed the proposed amendment to the Code of the City of Oswego, Chapter 257, Vehicles and Traffic Ordinance, Section 257-27, Winter Parking Restrictions, for about a half hour.
When all was said and done, councilors voted unanimously to table the resolution pending further discussion and public input.
“Nothing happened; they tabled the resolution. They tabled not amending the charter,” Mayor William Barlow told Oswego County Today following the meeting. “So, my executive order carries through until I lift it.”
Mayor Barlow issued the executive order on Jan. 11 instituting the winter parking ban (as of 1 a.m. Jan. 12 on all streets in Oswego. Barlow’s executive order supersedes the alternate side winter parking policy currently stated in the city charter.
The mayor’s executive order states: “The mayor, at his discretion, may impose a winter parking ban commencing on or after December 1 and continuing through March 31. The mayor may suspend or remove the winter parking ban prior to March 31 at his discretion if winter conditions permit. During such time as the winter parking ban is imposed, the parking of any vehicle on all highways and streets shall be prohibited between the hours of 1 and 6 a.m.”
Barlow pointed out that the police department has been handing out courtesy citations to offenders. However, if the weather warrants it, the vehicles would have to be moved to allow the DPW to plow the streets, he added.
There are municipal lots for overnight parking on the westside at Breitbeck Park, Wright’s Landing, Flexo-wire site, and the West Cayuga and West First Street City lot. For the eastside, the former Price Chopper site on East Cayuga Street (between East Third and East Fourth) is available.
Councilor Nathan Emmons said Monday night that tabling the resolution was the best option currently.
“This way we can continue the conversation without burdening the taxpayers. It costs a good chunk of money to (advertise and) hold another public hearing and change the charter,” he said. “I think we need to give ourselves some more time to look at this, explore all the options.”
The council’s vote does keep the current ban in place, he noted.
“Most people said 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. doesn’t work. We had a choice tonight between bad or worse. I don’t think that overnight 1 to 6 ban is really the best solution, either. But, we need to come up with something. We need to figure this one out. We need to get with our constituents … put our collective heads together and figure out what to do about all this, ” he said.
The age of the city’s housing stock, much of it constructed before two-vehicle families became the norm, and the peculiarities of the streets in the different wards make this issue more complex, the councilor said.
For example, the streets in the Third Ward are different than the streets in the Seventh Ward, he pointed out.
Molly Clark, an east side Oswego resident, opened the public hearing by saying, “I strongly disagree the only solution is to revert back to the 100 percent ban without trying a modification to the alternate street parking.”
She grew up in a city that had alternate street parking year round “and it worked,” she added.
“I find it insulting that you say alternate street parking is too confusing for the residents of Oswego. It works in Corning. It works in Buffalo. It works in many municipalities. Are you saying that Oswegonians are not smart enough to figure it out?” she said.
She suggested Oswego use alternate street parking for the rest of this winter and “actively use the time to study the problem areas.”
“You can’t solve a 21st century problem with a 19th century solution and expect this city to grow,” she told the council. “The 100 percent ban is the easy solution for lawmakers. However, the easy solution is rarely the best one.”
The impacted property owners should be invited to a meeting the DPW and other city officials to discuss the problems and possible solutions, she added.
Some speakers suggested expanding the hours of alternate street parking and pointed out that 1-6 a.m. really isn’t sufficient time to efficiently plow all the city streets. Besides, others said, it doesn’t just snow in Oswego between 1 and 6 a.m.
If it was a year-round policy, it would also be less confusing for residents, they noted.
A parking permit system, perhaps for owner-occupied homes only (limited to two vehicles per residence), was another suggestion.
A $50 fine is not a big deal to many people; if violators’ vehicles were towed, it would drive home the message, some speakers said.
One speaker took exception to having to park a vehicle about a mile away (in a city lot) if you don’t have a driveway.
“If you’ve already parked your car for the night, you’re not going to go back out and walk a mile” to pick up something you might have forgotten, she said.
Another speaker pointed out that other communities have the same problem and have found ways to deal with. Oswego’s leaders should reach out to them to see what works in those communities, he said.
The council needs to get together and come up with one solution and stick to it, one woman said.
“It would be wonderful to have something that would accommodate all of us moving forward so that we could have parking in the streets,” she said.
Brian Steffen said he met the mayor during the campaign and reminded the mayor that one of the issues he campaigned on was making Oswego more attractive to families.
However, the winter parking policy would make it less likely that young couples would purchase a home in Oswego that doesn’t have parking, he pointed out.
Besides 100 percent ban and alternate parking, there is a ‘third option’ – families can just move out of the city, he said.
“Is this how we want to treat families in Oswego? Is the convenience of plow operators more important to us than families?” he asked. “Removing the alternate parking ban places a great burden on property owners, namely families.”
Mary Kay Stone agreed. She said she has lived other places that had alternate parking “and it worked.”
Adam Fay said he and his wife are looking to buy a home in the city. But when they heard the 100 percent ban was on the table “we immediately ruled out a ton of properties that we had been looking at because they had no parking.”
A total parking ban isn’t a good idea, he added.
“A lot of people have spoken with a lot of good ideas. What I would ask is that we look at this and think about some sort of progressive long-term solution,” James Early told the council. “If we think of things in a progressive way, this is a problem we can solve.”