OSWEGO, NY – Mayor Billy Barlow shared a recap of his first 40 days in office and his vision for the rest of his term with a large crowd of area business leaders on Tuesday afternoon.
The Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce, working in concert with the Mayor’s Office, held its first economic development roundtable at the Beacon Hotel.
The chamber has been on an upward swing in recent years, the mayor said.
“Forty days in office and I’d say we’ve started with some momentum,” Barlow said. “We’re getting things done. We’re fielding constituent phone calls more than ever. If they call with a problem, we try to take care of that problem as quickly as possible. That’s what people pay taxes for, that’s what they expect – an immediate response from City Hall. ”
Barlow said he wants the people in his administration to be out in the public more, to be more assessable to the residents.
“Just be out in the people. When you see the folks from City Hall out wandering around, you have a feeling that they’re one of us, they have a sense of what’s going on,” the mayor said.
He highlighted a few of his accomplishments in office and hinted at a few things in store for the future.
The city’s website “is an embarrassment,” he said, adding that the council is in the process of working with a local firm to create a new and improved website.
Read the mayor’s press release regarding the city website project here.
He hopes to have it up by April. It will include a blog by the mayor, profiles of city officials, city documents, interactive maps and more, he said.
“It’ll be a nice form of communication,” he said.
The mayor also wants to improve the Community Development Office. It has under performed during past administrations, he said. But under the leadership of Community Development Director Justin Rudgick, there has been significant improvement, the mayor said.
Code enforcement has been taken out of the Fire Department and is now being handled by Sue Deary, city assessor.
“Right now we are in the process of reconstructing what was once the Code Enforcement Office around Sue. The point of that office will be to focus on neighborhoods, violations. The ultimate goal is to add a couple of code enforcers,” Barlow said.
His administration is also looking at how to rein in the water and sewer rates, he added.
He has also met with several state and federal elected officials in hope of alleviating some of the financial burden placed on the city by the consent decree.
“While I don’t feel comfortable celebrating quite yet, Senator Schumer and Congressman Katko have been extremely, extremely helpful. We were missing out on some opportunities. Sometimes you just need to make a phone call. It’ll take a little while to see results,” Barlow said.
All city buildings are in bad shape, not just City Hall, the mayor admitted.
He will look put some money aside each year in a capital plan to make the needed repairs.
“They need some serious, serious help. We need to break these larger projects down into smaller projects and take care of them,” he said.
He has brought in a firm to manage the city’s wastewater treatment plant.
“We still have city employees there. They are just being managed by a private group. I’ve toured that facility and the change that is happening there is just outstanding,” Barlow said. “It will help us with our reputation with the DEC.”
There are a lot of good things happening in the city he pointed out.
For examples, he cited initiatives by the Oswego Renaissance Association, the Lighthouse Restoration Project, the potential marine sanctuary and others.
It’s easy to be negative, the mayor said, adding that the city isn’t dying.
“We need to market ourselves better,” he said. “We have a lot of strengths. We’re in a good place right now and we have to keep the momentum moving forward.
He encouraged all groups as well as individuals to be engaged in city government.
For more information, contact the Mayor’s Office at 342-8136.
The Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce, together with the Office of Fulton Mayor Ron Woodward, will host another economic development meetings with the Fulton business community.
Mayor Woodward and members of the Common Council will join the group for the first meeting in Fulton on February 18.
The meeting will be held in the council chambers in Fulton City Hall and begin promptly at 5:30 p.m.