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Council Tables Charter Change Resolution

Parking ban starts at 1 a.m. Tuesday in Port City.

Parking ban starts at 1 a.m. Tuesday in Port City.

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.

One of the nearly 20 speakers Monday night makes her feeling on winter parking in Oswego known to the council.
One of the nearly 20 speakers Monday night makes her feeling on winter parking in Oswego known to the council.

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.

Councilors Caitlin Reynolds, Nathan Emmons and John B. Gosek consider the speakers' comments during the regular meeting.
Councilors Caitlin Reynolds, Nathan Emmons and John B. Gosek consider the speakers’ comments during the regular meeting.

“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.”

4 Comments

  1. Why the hell did they even have this public hearing….. to pacify the residence????? They had no intentions on not approving this. Very sad that the big picture was not looked at!

  2. Why doesn’t the city of Oswego contact other towns that have effective parking plans? New York City residents don’t LOVE to get up each early AM and move their cars across the street. They just do it. It’s the only way they can survive with 8 million residents more than half with cars.

    Other college towns have had this issue. We have homes in our neighborhood, Third Ward, that don’t have 2 cars per house, but 10! We must work this out. Our street has eight parking spots, two of them ‘reserved’ by day for businesses, and two churches in the neighborhood each Saturday and Sunday, and any other holy day. It’s been difficult, but manageable…this CAN be managed. Snow is a given in Oswego..

    We gave up our side yard to have a driveway. Railroad style, and yes, we miss having the green space. It’s ugly, those parking pads on front public space, but if you live in the wards with the difficult parking situations, it must be done, at least in winter. Lots of reseeding in April/May! As it’s been for decades.

    First lets contact other cities and ask how they do it, before we make any hard and fast decision. My recommendation. Oswego is one of the few places where folks crab that if they can’t park right in front of where they are going, they won’t go there (or buy there, etc.).

    I’d lay money that homes with one parking spot will still sell. Price is the answer, and young families, esp. will scoop them up (if they are price RIGHT). They will empty their groceries, etc., and then before 1 AM, they’ll move their cars to those designated spaces. I only wish there had been a place for us to take our car instead of eating our side yard, but that administration 25 plus years ago didn’t allow parking anywhere else at the time. Nothing like what the new mayor is offering. It stinks to have to walk three blocks to get your car (but I did it 30 years ago and it was 6 blocks to a snow birds house, since my rental had no spaces!).

  3. I agree that 1-6AM is too short of a time span to clear all of the roads. The way the snow comes down in Oswego, plows need to be out more often than just during the night. I also feel that the plows going the speeds they do, slamming down their blades and hitting the curbs and ruts when no cars are parked on the roads is very disturbing when people are trying to sleep. They can get the job done without driving that fast.

    I have seen odd/even parking work in many cities much larger than Oswego. I believe that the odd/even from 1-6AM is the biggest problem. If there was odd/even parking 24 hrs a day the plows would be able to keep one whole side cleared every other day. It would also keep the hospital and school employees and students from parking on both sides of the streets for 8 hrs at a time every day. These cars cause major congestion near the main roads. Small plow trucks can barely get by, much less the large city plows. Residents come and go during the day, but those cars do not move for 8hrs at a time.

    I myself do not feel that it is safe today, especially for girls, to be walking several blocks alone at night/early AM in Oswego to get to their cars, let alone get them cleaned off in a lot without security. This is a big issue. I know of a grown man that was jumped, knocked out, and his wallet stolen whie taking his trash out behind his house on W Mohawk St. at 6AM in the daylight as he was leaving for work. All of the cars parked overnite in an unsupervised lot is also a perfect spot for our low life thieves to hit a lot of cars in one stop.

    The other issue is the mud pits that result from parking and driving on unfrozen ground. Many cars have needed to be pulled out of ruts. The concrete/blacktop pads instead of grass are very ugly to look at all summer long as are several cars parked every which way on them in front of houses. Is it possible to only require off street parking when 6″ or more of snow is expected within a 24 hr period at least? I have seen this on signs in cities as well. This gives the plows a chance to clear the streets as well as keep the cars from getting stuck on the ground during the thaws and periods of no snow.

    I know renters are always looking for places with off street parking so I am positive that families will do the same once they learn of the current parking ban. It is a MAJOR inconvenience. We need some families to move into the city and clean up the dumps on Bridge St. not ask for more vacancies. The main streets in this city are a total shame, especially for a college town. If it looks like this now, what is it going to look like after we lose 600 more jobs???

    While on a rant….is there something that can be done about the sidewalks on the main roads near the schools being cleared by the city? I see the skidsters going over the bridges and through Franklin Park and would think the main sidewalks would be more of a priority for our young walkers than the crosspaths in Franklin. Get some of the prisoners close to release or our community service workers out clearing the busy sidewalks instead of expecting the elderly or disabled to do it. How much more could it add to each of our tax bills to have this done as well as city trash pickup?? The piles of trash left around this city is unreal! End of rant! Thanks!

  4. If the mayor wants residents to park blocks away he needs to ensure that the sidewalks are clear. It’s been a week since the last snowfall and yet the city owned sidewalk on E. 4th St between Bridge and Oneida St is still snow covered. Walking in the road is hardly safe, especially on a street as busy as E. 4th St.

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