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August 16, 2018

Fighting for Fulton: Public Outcry Grows


FULTON, NY – A group of concerned citizens challenging residents, landlords, and city officials alike to help restore Fulton to its former glory has seemingly doubled in size.

Just over a dozen people showed up to Tuesday’s (August 7) regular meeting of the Fulton Common Council to address concerns from drug use to negligent landlords and homeowners throughout the city.

A small group of women approached the city’s Mayor, Ronald Woodward Sr. and common councilors during a meeting in July, making it known that they were not content with the state of the city regarding appearances of several properties throughout all wards and they were going to be taking charge to bring change.

Tuesday, several more city residents came forward alongside them to address issues of their own for roughly an hour of public comment.

The first complaint centered around drug use throughout the city. A 20-year homeowner of the first ward expressed concern for her and her children’s safety after a police response led to officers drawing weapons aimed toward her house, specifically aimed at a vehicle that had pulled into her driveway.

As her son cried himself to sleep in fear, she contemplated selling her house because similar issues continue to arise in her neighborhood.

Despite the few good neighbors that came to the meeting alongside her in support, she and the other neighbors are aware of which house in their neighborhood is the center of concern, she said.

Believing that they are selling and using drugs at a house in her neighborhood, she urged Mayor Woodward and members of the Common Council to do something.

“I don’t understand how this is being allowed. It’s very disheartening that my children are that upset about the safety of (their) mother,” she said. “We know what houses they are. Shut it down. There’s a lot of good people living in Fulton that are paying taxes, and they’re going to move out. Why can’t we shut this house down?”

Mayor Woodward told residents in the audience of the recent changes the Common Council made to help combat issues such as this, specifically in regard to the house in question.

“We’ve adopted a law. If you have a landlord that owes back taxes, you can pull their rental permits until they’re taxes are paid,” he explained.

The house is question is owned by a landlord that owes $41,000 in taxes, he said, resulting in his rental permits being revoked.

Once tenants are removed from the property, along with any other properties in the city owned by the individual, the property will not be able to be rented until all back tax payments are recovered.

Similarly, the council recently adopted a law directing all landlords residing outside city limits to acquire a property manager within 25 miles of the property. Failure to do so could result in the forfeiture of rental permits as well.

“Other than what we’re doing, what else can we do?” Mayor Woodward questioned. “We can’t kick anyone’s door in because you’re sure they’re doing drugs.”

Instead, he explained, a warrant is necessary to enter the premises. To obtain a warrant, someone has to buy drugs and write a statement before presenting it to a judge for a warrant.

This work is typically completed by the Oswego County Drug Task Force that encompasses Fulton. However, the force is only made up of five people and is spread throughout the entire county, Woodward said.

Despite the resident’s reassurance that local police were courteous and professional in handling the incident, other city residents said reporting to the police is where the effort stops.

A fifth ward resident said she and her husband have issued several complaints to local police complete with information such as license plate numbers, which is “where it ends.”

After believing to have seen a drug deal happen on the street of which she resides, she said a perfectly timed patrol officer entered the area but didn’t take action because there was no crime committed based on what was seen at the time the officer arrived in the area.

“I understand it’s a huge epidemic, I understand the constitution a lot more than most. I understand individual rights, but you guys are not doing enough. Find some resources and make something happen. That’s all that we are asking because we are afraid, afraid for our children’s life,” her husband said.

She pleaded for Fulton PD officers to put more patrol on suspected drug use neighborhoods.

“Put your officers in there. Make it so these people don’t want to go there to use because there’s officers there, it’s watched,” she said.

Woodward explained that the city police department is currently down five officers due to retirement. Though they have five new hires in the police academy, the process before they become active for the department takes at least nine months.

Instead, fifth ward councilor Dennis Merlino suggested neighbors safely use devices to record such exchanges so those in question are aware they’re being watched.

“I’ve done it in Fulton. They stop congregating in that spot, knowing that they’re now on film. It’s worked in a couple locations I’ve gone to in the ward. It’s a suggestion, let them know in no uncertain terms that ‘we are watching you,’” Merlino said.

The residents suggested Merlino help to organize a neighborhood watch program in their ward.

Another viable suggestion came in regards to helping seniors on fixed incomes address codes violations that they may not have the financial means to rectify.

“I wanted to let you know, I’m following up with the principal of the high school and the superintendent of the schools. We are trying to see if we can go through the school to get a volunteer group of young men and women to go through and help mow some of the lawns, cut some of the shrubs, and maybe do some small maintenance around the house,” said a concerned resident that was part of the original group aimed at bringing change.

Other comment included an appeal for new codes and regulations to not be targeted specifically at landlords but also extend to homeowners that are negligent in taking care of their property’s appearance.

Additionally, a third ward resident suggested the city do better due diligence when allowing buyers to purchase homes throughout the city, ensuring that they don’t own homes already in the city that are not up to code.

The group reassured that they will continue to work on their own time to make the city better.

“You’ve got many sets of eyes and ears that are out willing and wanting to make your ward better, make it look great,” she said. “We’re out there working for the city, who you guys represent. I want to make sure you understand, we’re out there doing it for the city, not trying to be jerks and we’re not trying to attack homeowners, but we’re trying to hold everyone to the same level of accountability,” she said.

“I know the issues, I don’t like them. We’ll do whatever we can do,” Mayor Woodward said, noting that he believes 95 percent of these issues stem from absentee landlords which will remain priority focus for city officials.

“Just let us know if we can help any of your citizens because I think we are growing as a group and we want to make the city better. Whether it be getting rid of slumlords, or drug dealers, or pulling grass, whatever it is. Just keep your minds open, and let us know where we can help or find the people to do it,” she said.

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26 Responses “Fighting for Fulton: Public Outcry Grows”

  1. Bruno
    August 11, 2018 at 7:11 am

    I hope FINING litterers is part of this as Fulton looks like one big garbage dump. I also want to add when I’m in Fulton to shop & do my banking I’ve been followed by “unsavory characters” marking me as a potential victim AKA to rob me; needless to say I’m aware of my surroundings at all times. I might also add it would be nice if Fulton cleaned up the area where Goldberg s used to be as to “ladies of the evening plying their trade” Not a good thing to be accosted by hookers while going to some of the Doctors located in the area at 7 am. who have early office hours!!!

  2. Cal Ferris
    August 11, 2018 at 8:15 am

    *It’s not the Landlords that are doing drugs, it’s the Tenants…. The Root problem is the morality of the people. There is NO fear of God or the Law. That can only be instilled by those that can teach what the Law is and where it came from…. but our Secular nation has not allowed us to mention it in the schools, etc. … Wisdom is what’s needed and the “Beginning of Wisdom, is the Fear of God.”

  3. eyeonfulton
    August 11, 2018 at 8:33 am

    I we are short police officers, why are we not working with the NYSP to help us out. We pay taxes to the state and there is no reason why we can ask the NYSP for support.

  4. don tucker
    August 11, 2018 at 8:47 am

    remember, Fulton was….”City with a Future”….ugh….when they tore down old fulton and put up Canal View….that ruined Fulton

  5. John Doe
    August 11, 2018 at 9:20 am

    To curb the drug problem aside from pot use, maximum punishment for all drug crimes and zero plea deals. Cannot continue to offer plea deals for information. Just do.that and one by one take them all down. Instead of correctional facilities, a locked up rehab center where they will provide the work needed in the city free of charge which lowers city spending to resource it elsewhere.

  6. E. Kevan Rowlee
    August 11, 2018 at 11:36 am

    How many of these parents and grandparents are actually Fultonians? My guess is few of them are native to Fulton, or even Oswego County. So what brought them to Fulton? It certainly wasn’t a job in the private sector at Nestles` or the Miller Brewery.

    I suggest taking aim at what brought these sorts to Fulton … and ending it … would go a long ways towards cleaning up the cities image and problems. After all, why are these sorts taking plant/root in Fulton and not 11 miles away in Oswego?

    As far as drug use Fulton isn’t any different than any other area whether it be Oswego, Syracuse, Utica, Rochester, Buffalo, Richmond VA, Charlotte NC, Conway SC, Macon GA, Savannah GA, Atlanta GA, Tampa FL, Orlando FL, Jacksonville FL, Kansas City, Denver, San Francisco, etc., etc.

    Perhaps utilizing inmate labor from Oswego County Jail could be arranged to mow unkept yards in Fulton and billed to the property owners. Inmates would jump for joy to get out of lock down and mow lawns.

    I know a private neighborhood in the South with 1/3 acre lots which yard mowing contractors routinely charge $40 to mow. Should they be left unmowed for a month the neighborhood mows the unkept yard and charges the lot owner $100. No questions asked.

    Perhaps some of what I’ve mentioned will be helpful.

  7. Linda Reynolds
    August 11, 2018 at 11:43 am

    If these people know you are videoing them it is possible they could try to get revenge … WHY has this city gotten this bad? … because NOTHING is being done to those who do get caught …

    If my neighbor(s) smoked pot I would not have an issue … However, when needles are found in my neighborhood and it takes OVER 2 hours to get them picked up, I have a huge issue …

    This city has gone to hell … how many city owned properties are there? … TOO MANY … but instead of selling them cheap and getting them back on the tax roll, they just sit and rot … I lived on Utica Street for 6 1/2 years … the house across from me was empty when I first moved there and stands empty now, 7 1/2 years later … boarded up, insect and probably rodent infested …

  8. Former Resident
    August 11, 2018 at 12:16 pm

    This is an example why I moved far and away from Fulton. Poor city management, people being hired with little experience who know people high up on the food chain and get hired anyways. The politics, internal laziness and corruption Fulton has always had makes it what it is. Get out, while you can still sell your home.

  9. THE WIZARD
    August 11, 2018 at 3:10 pm

    Sounds like a mutiny is taking place in Fulton! Who’s running the vessel…. Captain Quigg? Maybe he should get to the bottom of this problem and find out who’s selling the strawberries.

  10. captlindabird
    August 11, 2018 at 7:12 pm

    Given that first impressions mean so much, it would be very worthwile if the City of Fulton would clean up their own property around the former Nestles property. Looks awful as people come in to town from 481. It speaks volumes about how much officials care about our city. People bring children to play at the Kiwanis Ball park, only to breathe dust and pass by what looks like a war zone. How about some consideration there too for the concerned citizens? Someone is not doing a great job in comparison to surrounding areas…just sayin’.

  11. Theresa
    August 12, 2018 at 9:33 am

    I agree with the problems Fulton faces with these issues , however, if you start fining people because they can’t keep appearances of their property to (whoever’s) standard, you’re going to have even more people leave this city. My elderly Mom, and myself are not physically capable of doing everything that needs to be done on this property and finding someone who won’t rob us blind to do the work competently is impossible. Some program by the county called to offer help with small improvements like painting and cleaning up the yard – using students. They never showed. We’ve lived here nearly 60 years – and some elitist wants to charge us because we can’t afford the exorbitant prices necessary to get our property take care of? We’re lucky we can afford the ridiculous taxes in this town and someone is talking about fining us because we’re too poor to look good enough for you? It’s bad enough we have to pay for all of the population in this town who don’t work for a living! How about we stop making it so easy for these dealers and users and moochers to live here instead of chasing out the long time residents who have to pay the price for growing up here? Drug dealers wouldn’t be here if there wasn’t such a big market for their services. Addicts wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t so easy to get public assistance in this county. And the people who became addicts here wouldn’t have done so if we’d chased the dealers out to begin with. Start punishing the people who are the problem.

  12. A.A
    August 12, 2018 at 2:18 pm

    Here is my take this city is a dump look at Nestle site if the city does not care why should the residents. We pay dearly here for taxes and get what? Tall weeds nasty sidewalks unpaved streets, absentee landlords. Let’s start getting rid of our city officials next election. We are all sick of the same old same old

  13. Potholes
    August 12, 2018 at 3:20 pm

    It’s time for a change. Oswego has a mayor who gets things done. People like his vision for the future. Fulton is a club of the good ole boys. Still no water park for kids. Potholes that destroy our cars. Should have made a factory out of nestle so all the people on welfare would have to .work there .instead we have aldi store. Mayor woodward is old news. HHe needs to go and take his city council with him.

  14. Joe
    August 12, 2018 at 4:54 pm

    Yes fix potholes, Fix The Assessment so Fair Market Value is applied to all property. Stop 50% to 70% discounts for the chosen few. Shut down the drug dealers, They are killing people. Make the cost of business fair so we can attract jobs. Help property owners if you only work with and for the chosen few the majority get taken advantage of!

    Study the Oswego County Real Property Data base. The Facts will alarm the educated! Or just make criminals out of people that bring attention to potholes the city can’t afford to fix.

  15. Dennis Merlino
    August 12, 2018 at 6:07 pm

    “Put your officers in there. Make it so these people don’t want to go there to use because there’s officers there, it’s watched”
    This is a great step.
    As 5th Ward City Councilor, the way I’m approaching it is to go after the few bad landlords that are inviting these people to live in their properties in our City. We have to make the landlords accountable for what their tenants do. The many properties that these few bad landlords own are where the majority of police and neighborhood issues occur.
    These indifferent landlords must be held accountable for causing deterioration and damage to the quality of life to our finest residents.

  16. Jessie
    August 12, 2018 at 9:55 pm

    Following that 45 minute whine session I brought forth a specific plan of creating a recovery proclaimation day and specifics of a nonprofit geared towards Clean living. None of said complaintants or anyone in the city volunteered to help with either project. I cannot believe no mention of this was made in this article. This is largely part of the problem just feeding itself with no solution.
    Please check out the Fulton Wellness Center on Facebook!
    I don’t care if it’s gossip, alcohol, pot or heroin- a problem is a problem and we don’t need anymore. We need solutions.
    After this meeting the city is also going to be enforcing a 3-5 minute share.
    If you are serious about making fulton a better place it’s going to take a solution and sticking together. Not pointing fingers.
    ONE NATION INDIVISIBLE. Learn what that means.

  17. THE WIZARD
    August 12, 2018 at 11:00 pm

    After watching “Fultons Five Minutes” vs. “Off The Cuff” with Mayor Barlow of Oswego, it’s was like the difference between day and night.

    While Oswego certainly has many more advantages over Fulton, both cities share some “similar problems”, along with the region in general. From my observation, Mayor Barlow was VERY articulate when he spoke, VERY well versed on the issues, easy to understand, and his office looked official… like a Mayors office should.

    On the other hand, it was VERY hard to clearly hear Mayor Woodward, or deciper what he was saying, and his cluttered office looked more like a school maintainance department office, (without much change from May to August except for the old empty milkbottle and prescription container sitting on the desk). I’d probably have to agree with all the comments above.

  18. THE WIZARD
    August 13, 2018 at 9:06 am

    If the city can impose a moratorium on used car lots, why can’t they do the same for new/future rental property? Why not just impose some sort of “rental tax” based upon adult occupancy instead of property values since they are making an income based on that?

  19. Joe Loves Potholes
    August 13, 2018 at 9:18 am

    A suggestion I had . Have the city garbage truck drivers given a street property by property address sheet. While stopped so garbage pick people can empty garbage cans from every home in Fulton while stopped have driver fill out a street condition form and at the end of the day turn them into DPW supervisor so he can assign repair crews to the streets with the most POTHOLES. I know we can’t afford it LOL.

    Maybe this could be done every three months of so. These people visit every home in Fulton, NY once a week. So there would be no extra expense to get the information where the potholes are and which streets are in the most need of repair. Safety first then beauty!

  20. Joe A Citizen
    August 13, 2018 at 9:55 am

    As for Assessments:

    People that can afford $900,000.00 mortgages are not so uneducated to buy or build a home worth 1/3 of what they borrowed to build it.

    No one should be allowed a “I paid to much” over 5% or 10% max of their mortgage or someone is not telling the truth, The Whole Truth!
    You should not be allowed to tell your bank one line and your city assessor another line.

    $600,000.00 would cost the other tax payers what $600.00 a week.

    Complexes are not on single lots on public streets. The city should not have to provide services for complexes unless we do it for all complexes. The newest duplexes with the most Bedrooms, Bath Rooms and in many cases garages should not enjoy the lowest assessed value.

    Rental property should be assessed via income. If a landlord receives over $800.00 a month for rent that apartment is worth a lots than $25,000.00 or HUD should adjust rents according to assessed value.

    After all city HUD is run by city employees.

    As for vacant land it should be assessed per square foot under an acre per the average price paid in Fulton for vacant land. For lots over an acre compare apples to Apples. That way we will not have 19 acre lots assessed at $4,900.00 and 66′ x 100′ vac lots assessed at $4,000.00

    The rules should be fair and just and apply to all the same way.

    When we provided opportunity for a way of life we were not over come by tall grass and drug addictions!

  21. CA
    August 13, 2018 at 11:11 am

    As for the 5th Ward city councilman no lip service let’s see results. This city is out of control and we as residents and taxpayers have to take back our city. November 2019 we will make a change and vote all of you out. Clean sweep is what we need. Look at your ward its looks like crap weeds are tall looks like Flint Michigan around here. And the Nestle site looks like a Syrian war zone. You should be so proud of that city councilman. So just look around you have nothing to be proud of. Do your job clean it up.

  22. Joe The Citizen
    August 13, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    We can’t afford to! Ask the Mayor Potholes are to expensive. Addicts can’t be investigated Drug houses are private enterprises. Assessments are only to help the chosen few with millions of dollars of real property. and make sure the working class pay as much as they can before repossession. Home with $100,000.00 or less mortgages are assessed at 100% to 120% Real Property over that “The Owners paid to much so assessments are 10% to maybe 30% of what fair market value might be.

    The people we elect just don’t care about Honest Hard Working People our government is set up for the chosen few. That is the chosen few, a few decades ago decided Assessors will be appointed instead of elected.

    Assessment Review Board Member are private, Meeting are Private, and records are never to be shared with The People. WHY?
    Potholes don’t matter and grass has to be cut!

  23. Chris
    August 13, 2018 at 7:54 pm

    Hi,we know what the problems are.If you have a suggestion or idea to solve them please let someone know.The city has more DPW and water dept. work orders than employees to fix them.Help out your neighbor/city by picking up trash along the road,sweeping grass and dirt from the road,and yourself.Fulton Block Builders has started a move in this city to Clean it up.Let’s all pitch in.Thanks

  24. Steve Ward
    August 13, 2018 at 9:28 pm

    I don’t think the city is asking for all houses to look perfect but just trying to get owners and land lords to pick up the trash is front of your house and keep your lawn mowed. and if you have junk cars of boats move them out of sight. that’s all, I for one think this is a good start and I hope the city and the Fultonians keep it going. I for one will do whatever I can to help the town. I have not been happy with my town for decades and glad to see people are making the effort to improve it.

  25. NGW
    August 14, 2018 at 12:15 am

    For all of those that have commented above, thank you for sharing your thoughts. Please come to the Common Council Meeting on Tuesday, August 21 @ 7pm. It is an opportunity to speak directly to your Councilman, tell your story and get your questions answered. I am all for sharing your thoughts with others regarding an article. However, if you truly are concerned and want to see change, then participate and come to the Common Council meeting. You will be able to speak with the 6 councilman who are the legislative body of the city. They make and change the laws regarding the City of Fulton.

  26. Bruno
    August 14, 2018 at 10:29 am

    I have a better idea NGW….VOTE them all out along with the Mayor come election time……..it’s WAY past time for 100% NEW Young leadership. Fulton desperately needs “Billy Barlow” types to step up & run for all of Fulton’s political offices.

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