Oswego Residents Weigh In On Winter Parking Proposal

A sign from a previous winter season's alternate parking ban

A sign from a previous winter season's alternate parking ban

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.


  1. what fun that is on a street like mine that already had odd even parking during the day, if they are going to do that, take away these ones so it’s not so confusing

  2. Here we go again. If there’s a problem I. The first ward then make alternate parkinging in the first ward. The code inforcement office should do an annual inspection of apartments to see how many unrelated people live in each apartment. Instead of making new laws let’s inforce the ones we have. Why do we want to make a law that helps a few at the expense of the majority. It’s kind of like the mouse that roared. As far as the person from Ithaca goes if you don’t like the way it is here then go back to Ithaca. I wish from other cities would stop trying to make Oswego like there city. We got along just fine with plowing the way it is. As far as overtime schedule workers to come in at night on straight time. Do away with the wing man like Syracuse. A state law now says if a plow hits a car in the process of plowing it’s the car owners responsibility not the city. Refit the plows and train the drivers to operate the wings. I thought this was put to rest with the new mayor?????

  3. There isn’t any realistic “easy solution” to fix this problem. At this point, just about any idea would seem worth considering. I’m not saying I have a solution,.. simply an idea that I haven’t heard yet. Have they ever considered just plowing north/south streets one day and East/West streets the next? That way, people could park closer to their homes. If you can shift cars from one side of the street to the other, then you should be able to shift all cars from one street to another. After the initial first two days of plowing, travel in both directions should be able to resume to normal winter driving conditions, even in OZ. Waiting to hear your idea before you attack mine.

  4. Lester….Unfortunately, that would inevitably result in the alternate streets being clogged with vehicles parked on both sides every other day for 24 hour periods. Many driveways would undoubtedly end up being partially blocked by cars as well as being full of whatever snow falls overnight. And since so many people also don’t keep their sidewalks cleared, the result is many people would be walking into the middle of these streets just to get back to where they live. Furthermore, this would greatly hamper and interfere with most snow removal efforts by residents and especially those using private plowing services. A better idea might be to pray for snow only on weekends and holidays.

  5. We’ve owned our home in the Third Ward for 33 years. Over those years there have been many issues. The large homes in that ward were turned into multi-families over decades of nuclear development. They never reverted back to single family, and there was never enough parking for each dwelling. EVER.

    We sacrificed a gorgeous side yard with Victorian steps to a single-lane driveway that can house all 5 cars in our multi-family (a duplex). We knew we didn’t have parking when we bought the building, but St. Mary’s had rented space for decades. Things change (insurance got too prohibitive for them to do so after about 1985).

    It’s a bear because we have to jocky cars each winter. We need to communicate, who needs to be out first, second, etc., and trade keys so if someone doesn’t do it, we can move their car into the street for them, and get to work on time ourselves (and yes, I was late for work quite a few times).

    Also we have two attorneys, two churches, and 8 multi-families on a street that only has one side of the street parking due to how narrow it is for fire trucks. Students continue to park on the ‘wrong’ side even with the signs right next to where they are parking. Don’t college kids know how to read (?!), ;0)

    The landlords over the years, several of them, appear to have an amnesty or something with the Police because rarely are these autos ticketed, not that we’ve called because we never did over this, saving my calls for ‘noise.’

    I truly hope with that volume of residents in those student houses we never DO have a fire that fire trucks can’t get to the house, which God bless us, has not happened so far. The kids who park erroneously are almost always courteous, however, when we point out the parking restriction as they get out of their cars, and do move to our side…

    However, this is the major issue. Due to the volume of residents, the landlords have pushed snow into the street for the city plows to take away. Except, the City doesn’t move it away, just over to our side of the street, and into our few driveway entries. Where it freezes, and is very very heavy to move. That’s another bear with many teeth as the single family owners are now, after many years becoming seniors.

    Finally, single side parking doesn’t allow for alternate parking! Why are there SO MANY residents in these multi-families if there is not sufficient parking on the premises? We were made to provide parking for upward to a space per adult driver back in 1985.

    Street parking is 6-9 spots for the attorneys, the churches, and the apartments on the whole street, and because students have friends who visit (each student appears to own a car (thankfully many take them home in the winter and carpool), so we are ALWAYS congested, massively in winter!

    When these homes were rezoned for mult–family few students owned a car back in the 1970s…so the issues have quadrupled in the last decade, but laws appear to not have changed.

    Please come up with a solution. We’ll probably never sell our home, so we can’t move to another ward where parking is a bit easier…and obviously, even with the ‘encouragement’ of the Renaissance Association, landlords are not going to downsize the number(s) of apartment, nor students within (what happened to only four unrelated people in one apartment?)…so I can’t see it EVER becoming a resolved issue.

    I feel bad for anyone who purchased their home during the ‘new law’ a few years ago when we could park on the street 12 months a year. What do they DO if they have NO parking now???

    As for walking from Wright’s Landing, or a rental spaces…we all did it back in the 70s…and so does every one else in cities like NY. I feel sympathy for their complaints, but we unloaded our groceries while parked on the street during hours allowed, and then walked back after we parked. Once when I rented from Mr. & Mrs. Sayer who never seemed to have buildings with parking (and we payed less because it DIDN’T come with parking), I rented a spot ten blocks south of where I lived. Needless to say, I used the bus a lot of the time in winter, and my car only for necessities like laundry and groceries, and out of town trips.

    Each Ward has their own issues, but no where but the Third is it THIS bad!!! Too many people, too many multi-families, few owner occupied, and each auto owner also has multiple friends who visit…a solution? I can’t see any if we continue with the current ordinances.

  6. Surely there’s no fix that’ll please everyone but all I know is when there’s alternate parking some people get confused or some come from out of town & aren’t aware of it & end up parking on both sides of the street. I’ve seen more than one plow have to back up due to not being able to proceed up the road from it & forcing me to reverse right along with them; pretty dangerous when you can’t see around the snow piles. An all-out ban works best…at least on this side of town(east).

  7. No matter what happens no one is ever going to be happy… On that note no parking on city streets after 1 am is the way it should be we never had an issue with it before. Parking over by the hospital is bad when winter comes they park right up on your drive way it’s hard to make it out with out almost hitting other cars. So between college kids and hospital it gets real bad. Plows can’t get down the street. Clear the road of all cars is a must to have it all cleaned at once.

  8. All the comments here make some good points. However, if they are going to continue with the even /odd system, maybe they should consider making a few more of the major streets “one way” and going to diagonal parking like on W. 1st street. If the problem (besides snow) is too many cars and not enough spaces, going this route would in fact create more parking spaces. Just a thought.

  9. I live in the 3rd ward and i have to ask why do you let people buy these property and they turn it into an Apt. if they don’t have enough parking? I understand if they have owned their property for years to be concerned. I feel it’s terrible for these landlord buying property to rent to anybody that has a car and not enough parking for them. It’s not right. I don’t agree with odd and even parking because it’s hard for the snow plows to do their job.I agree with the 1:00 A.m. no parking on the streets.

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