OSWEGO, NY – At Monday night’s Common Council meeting, Mayor Billy Barlow was authorized to enter into an agreement with MCI
Communications Services (Verizon) for the implementation of WiFi throughout designated areas of downtown. But it wasn’t clear sailing.
Several speakers voiced support for the plan during the public session prior to the meeting.
However, when the resolution came up for a vote, City Attorney Kevin Caraccioli pointed out that last week, the committee “failed to take formal action on the mayor’s proposal to implement WiFi service downtown.”
To remedy this “harmless error, he explained was to waive the rules of the Common Council to place the matter before the councilors for a vote.
Councilor Eric VanBuren made the motion (to waive the rules) and Councilor Nate Emmons seconded. The resolution passed unanimously.
The WiFi service will modernize downtown Oswego and provide an additional amenity to visitors and patrons of downtown businesses, the mayor said.
It will complement the investment and effort of small business owners downtown and further enhance Oswego’s effort to attract investment in its downtown from the state of New York, he added.
However, concerns linger over the need for the service and its nearly $12,000 cost (not including monthly service fee).
The service will allow people to hang out downtown and take advantage of what downtown has to offer, Barlow explained. Boaters will also be able to utilize the service.
“It shows we’re actually making an effort to attract people downtown,” he said. “This is nothing short of helping small businesses.”
Fifth Ward Councilor John Gosek said he supported the mayor’s proposal.
“I’ve heard positive feedback,” he added. “It’s an investment in the city. It’s positive. I encourage the council to see this as an investment.”
Fourth Ward Councilor Shawn Walker offered a different view from the residents of his ward.
Many weren’t in favor of the plan. “They are older, elderly people who pay taxes; why should they pay taxes for the downtown businesses?” he said. “Personally, I think it’s a good idea. But with the situation the city is in, I don’t think it’s a good idea now. I’m going to have to stick by my constituents.”
Seventh Ward Councilor Robert Corradino said it was a great idea and praised the mayor for being a forward thinking administrator. However, he said he had some issues with the way the proposal was done.
He didn’t agree with the three-year term of the contract, and asked whether the mayor put it out for proposals from other vendors.
“I don’t feel comfortable making a three-year commitment. There are more questions than answers that I have,” he said. “I just don’t see what the rush is.”
The city contracts with Verizon for its phone and internet service, the mayor replied, adding that Verizon is the lowest state contract price.
He pointed out how the city is saving money by no longer using Time Warner Cable at the marina and has gone to WiFi instead for about two-thirds the cost.
The city could do an early termination of the contract, but there would be a penalty, he added.
There is a notion that if (the administration) is focusing on one thing, it’s not focusing on anything else, the mayor said.
“That’s just not true,” he said, adding that there are several items being focused on – but things “won’t get fixed overnight. We’re working on it.”
The resolution was approved 5-2 with councilors Walker and Corradino voting no.