OSWEGO, NY – The Administrative Services Committee heard a flurry of comments and suggestions Monday night regarding the city’s winter parking policy – current and future.
Assistant City Attorney Thomas Reynolds presented a tentative local law regarding winter parking at the request of First Ward Councilor Caitlin Reynolds.
The committee took no action on the discussion item. However, chairman Robert Corradino said councilors would review Reynolds’ proposal, consider the input from Monday’s meeting and any other suggestions over the next couple weeks. They would have some sort of updated proposal in place for the next committee meeting, he said.
Reynolds’ proposed parking ban would be effective automatically every year from Nov. 15 of each year through March 31 of the following year. It would be an odd – even ban lasting a full 24 hours on the side on which the parking is banned.
The law would allow parking on odd days on the odd side of the street from 6 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the following even day. And, it would allow parking on even days on the even side of the street from 6 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the following odd day.
When the last day of the month is an odd day, parking would be allowed on the odd side until 6 the next even day.
The proposed local law allows the Common Council to alter or amend the streets to which the ban applies to allow for unique situations which require variance from the blanket application of the local law.
The apparent benefits are:
• There is no executive or legislative action required to impose or lift the ban.
• The ban begins and ends on the same day each year, so there is no need for uncertainty or a special notification.
• College students who, under the current law, typically were home for Christmas break and returned unaware of its imposition, would know that the ban commenced before they left and would more likely avoid receiving tickets for being unaware of its imposition.
• The DPW would have a full 24 hours to clean each side of the street.
• The need for DPW overtime would be reduced because the DPW wouldn’t have to plow only between 1 – 6 a.m., which is currently the only time either side of the street is clear, but would be able to clear snow from one side of the entire street during normal daytime working hours and would be able to do the same thing on the opposite side of the street the next day.
However, several residents weren’t entirely in favor of and odd-even program, citing the abject failure of the plan the city has implemented in the past.
One woman told the committee that the city’s parking restrictions have made it virtually impossible for her to sell her house.
“It’s not the house that gives the buyer pause. It’s the lack of parking,” she said. ”Specifically during the winter months. The city’s solution of municipal overnight parking lots has proven fruitless and embarrassing.”
“Leaving the snow on one side of the road would create a large pile of snow,” DPW Commissioner Tom Kells pointed out. “It’ll freeze to the road.”
Walking home from the (marina) after parking your car can be a big safety hazard for seniors, parents carrying groceries along with small children and others, several of the speakers told the councilors.
It makes sense that all the streets can’t be plowed in the five hours of the city’s current (1-6 a.m.) plan, some speakers noted. The 24-hour would be more logical.
One speaker urged the city to implement a full-year 24-hour parking policy. It would assist the DPW in the summer months with street cleaning efforts, she said.
One resident that lived in Ithaca said they have successfully done full-day alternate parking.
“I parked on the wrong side of the street one night and I got a ticket. I never messed that up again after that,” he said. “I’m not really pro 24-hour alternate parking. I’m pro some parking.”
All of the wards are different and each has its own parking and plowing issues, Council President Shawn Walker said. He suggested further study of the problem with various stakeholders.
City resident Mercedes Niess asked why it has to be all or nothing. Why can’t the streets that are the problem areas be targeted? The DPW knows which streets need to have extra attention, she noted.
“I think this is serious enough to have a study,” she added.
Local businessman Atom Avery told the committee he has the results of winter parking plan studies that he would share with the councilors.
“There’s got to be a compromise. We all need to work together on finding a solution,” resident Steve Phillips pointed out.
The other part of the problem is enforcement. Oswego needs to be proactive here, he said, adding that if a person gets towed for violating the parking policy, they probably won’t park there again.
He also suggested doing some research and talking to other communities about how they handle the problem.
Niess said that if the city has a study completed and bases its policy on that, they can use that as a foundation to explain to people this is what they did and why they did it.
“This is just for discussion only tonight,” Walker said. “We aren’t going to make no decision on this tonight.”
However, one resident pointed out that Monday’s discussion seemed to be more of the same old rhetoric. The city continues to talk about the problem, but nothing ever really gets done about it, he said.
Corradino pointed out that it was only August 1 and the council was doing something about it.
In two weeks, he said, the committee would bring forward a plan.
It may be a hybrid of Reynolds’ plan or something different, he said, adding that no plan is perfect and everyone probably won’t be pleased, but they’ll have a plan.