OSWEGO, NY – Representatives from Harborfest and the city gathered Monday night to discuss what they could do to help each other – and save time and money in the process.
The city is going to support Harborfest, according to Mayor Randy Bateman. “We’re just trying to decide at what extent,” he added.
The fire department has knocked down its coverage for the festival “right where we can be,” Chief Jeff McCrobie said.
“What we did last year is what we expect to do for next year,” McCrobie said. “I don’t see where we can cut any more. It’s been cut over the years a little bit here and there. Where we’re at right now, I don’t think there is any room to make more cuts.”
The festival’s venues might close around 11 p.m., but that doesn’t mean everyone goes home, the chief said, adding there is still a need for coverage.
Mike Dehm, police chief, said his agency starts planning festival coverage around March and April.
“We’re not sure how much assistance we will get from other agencies,” he pointed out.
To cut down on overtime costs, some police officers took compensatory time instead of overtime, he said.
“The majority of my overtime is cleanup, predominantly on the weekend,” DPW Commissioner Mike Smith said. “There are a few areas that we’ve discussed that we could adjust a little bit. We can make some minor cuts but I don’t see anything substantial”
Tom VanSchaack, Harborfest executive director, noted that the festival has volunteers that go out early in the morning to clean many areas. Some times the city’s crews follow them.
“If we can better coordinate those groups, it would save the festival and the city a little bit of time and money,” he said.
Councilor Mike Myers suggested if there were some better way to control what happens on Water Street it would take a load off all three of the city departments.
Water Street is home to several bars, and while not a Harborfest venue it is one of the most congested areas all weekend.
The police chief pointed out that the bouncers at the taverns do what they can to ensure things don’t get out of hand.
Councilor Connie Cosemento broached the subject of possible decreasing the size of the festival.
She also asked if it would make a difference if it was Friday, Saturday and Sunday instead of starting on Thursday evening.
That wouldn’t be a huge difference, according to Harborfest board member Chuck Handley.
Breitbeck is the only park open Thursday and only for about six hours.
The only real savings would be the cost of the band for that night, he said.
Not only is Harborfest an expense for the city, it also creates “tons of revenue” for the city, Handley pointed out.
“There’s a give and take there,” he said.
Councilors Cathy Santos and Ron Kaplewicz said they would like to see some solid numbers on just what kind of financial impact the festival has on the Port City.
VanSchaack said he’d work with the chamber to come up with some sort of financial picture for the councilors. He will also be in contact with Smith regarding cleanup scheduling.
The director and the mayor said they will continue to work together as plans for Harborfest 2011 take shape.