OSWEGO, NY – On Tuesday night, city officials took the next step toward making the Oswego River a safer place for fishermen.
The second in a series of community meetings regarding angler safety was held at the EconoLodge. Four ideas were put forth to be worked on through the coming months and implemented in the spring.
Community leaders, fishermen, charter captains and others met Sept. 28 to discuss what could be done to make fishing in Oswego River safer in the wake of the deaths of two fishermen this fall.
That was followed in early November by a smaller meeting, conducted in the mayor’s conference room at City Hall, to examine the ideas and determine which were doable.
The ideas presented Tuesday night were: more informational signage on the side of the river frequented by anglers and near Leto Island, installing life rings along West Linear Park that could be thrown to someone in distress, depth markers to alert anglers as to how deep the water is, placing distance markers that would allow someone calling 911 to give them a more specific location.
A little more than a dozen people turned out for the meeting; less than half of the original meeting’s attendance.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Randy Bateman said the DEC has proposed a regulation reminding those fishing in Great Lakes tributaries that some of the tributaries may contain hydro-electric generating plants, dams or spillways with deep pools that may produce strong currents. Anglers should pay particular attention to warning notice signs and audible signals indicating fluctuating water levels; and the use of a personal floatation devise when wading in these waters is highly recommended, he continued.
The mayor said he isn’t sure what the price tag of these safety features might be.
They will work with Brookfield Power, which operates Varick Dam, on possibly helping to pay some of the costs for whatever solution is put in place, he added.
“One of the things that we’re going to do at the county level is any publication that we produce that is directed at fishing or fishermen will probably have a half-page or so space that will speak specifically about fishing safety in Oswego County,” said David Turner, director of the county Planning, Community Development and Tourism office.
Perhaps they’d include the language of the DEC proposal in such an article, he said.
They are also considering producing “rack cards” (small pieces of informational material that can be displayed in holders on tables or front desks at hotels, for example).
They would be placed in hotels, bait shops and other sites frequented by fishermen, he explained.
Mike Goldych said years ago he had lengthy discussions with the then-mayor about the very same issues.
“We just can’t keep skirting this issue any longer. We’ve got to step up to the plate. We have regulations all over, trying to save people from themselves,” he said. “We need to require them to wear the personal flotation device.”
Another person pointed out the need for life rings to be placed on the middle wall of the river as well.
Senior Chief Joseph Orlando of the Oswego Coast Guard station stressed the need for people to let someone know where they are going in case of an emergency.
“If they let someone know where they’re going, where they’re fishing and when they expect to be back, it would help a lot” he said.
Dale Currier said he liked the idea of the pole to indicate water levels.
“But I would caution against having it color coded,” he said, explaining that some people are color blind.
He suggested putting tabs on the pole at different increments indicating how safe the conditions are.