OSWEGO – The Oswego Common Council sailed through a relatively light agenda Monday night. However, the item receiving most of the comments wasn’t on the agenda.
During the public session, three speakers stepped to the microphone to voice their opposition to a proposed Dunkin’ Donuts in downtown.
Earlier this month, the Oswego Planning Board tabled action on a proposal to erect a Dunkin’ Donuts at 275 W. First St.
Several residents voiced concerns at that meeting.
The speakers Monday night pointed out they aren’t against donuts; they have concerns about the impact the new business would have on established businesses just down the street and traffic, especially if Dunkin’ was allowed to operate a drive-thru at the busy intersection of West First and Utica streets.
Ranjit Dighe said he understands the decision is in the city’s hands. However, the concerns of the city residents should hold some sway, he told the councilors.
“How better to gauge the character of the community that to hear from the people who live, work and enjoy (the community),” he said.
Oswego has something that a lot of other places lack, and that is a good main street downtown, he added.
“Our downtown is really something special and it’s gotten almost continuously better,” he said. “The downtown is likely Oswego’s biggest asset.”
Having a restaurant at the gateway of the downtown would damage that asset, he said.
Austin Wheelock said he has reviewed the city’s 2020 Plan and the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. Neither of which, he said, has a section saying it supports a fast food restaurant in downtown.
“We should try to find the best use for that site, even if it takes a little bit longer,” he said.
Unless something is done proactively, this sort of issue (fast food places with drive-thrus) will keep popping up, he added.
He said he has talked with “several local businesses that are concerned about this being approved a couple blocks from them,” he said.
There are already more than a half dozen local businesses in that general area that currently sell coffee and baked goods.
Mark Slosek said the city should be looking to enhance the historic aspect of the downtown area and also try to make the city more inviting to pedestrians and friendly to visitors.
“My question to you is, is placing a drive-thru Dunkin’ Donuts on West First Street consistent with this city’s 2020 vision?” he told the councilors.
The citizens need to be a vital part of the decision making process on this, he added.