Public Shares View Of Oswego’s Future

OSWEGO, NY – Residents of the Port City weighed in last Wednesday on Oswego’s 2020 Vision Comprehensive Plan.

The public had four opportunities to share their ideas with Bergmann Associates (the firm hired by the city to facilitate the update), city officials and members of the 2020 steering committee.

Meetings were conducted at Oswego Middle School, Oswego High School, Fitzhugh Park Elementary and at the Education Center.

More than a dozen people attended each meeting.

Studying the lists of strengths and weaknesses are, from left, Harry Shock, Nancy Bellow, Bill Simmons and Jane Murphy. The prioritized lists will be incorporated into a draft plan later this summer.
Studying the lists of strengths and weaknesses are, from left, Harry Shock, Nancy Bellow, Bill Simmons and Jane Murphy. The prioritized lists will be incorporated into a draft plan later this summer.

At the Education Center, Andy Raus of Bergmann Associates presented an overview of the update process.

“This is an update on an existing document. The goal is to identify a top 25 to 35 list of things that are very doable in the next 5 to 10 years,” Raus said. “Once you adopt a comprehensive plan, it increases your potential for obtaining funding through state and federal programs, especially if the programs you’re looking to have funded are identified specifically within the comprehensive plan.”

The plan has provided the successful framework to garner state and federal grants and guidance for design parameters to preserve and enhance the city’s natural, historical and cultural aspects, according to Mary Vanouse, the city’s community development director.

The adoption of a plan is not a reason to expect immediate changes in the community, Raus said, adding, “It takes time to amass financial resources to move forward with certain capital projects, it takes time to change the image of the community. This is not something that is going to happen overnight.”

The public was invited to share its opinions on what it thought were the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in Oswego.

Those who were unable to attend one of Wednesday’s meetings still have an opportunity to take part in the process. A community survey is available on the city’s website

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The survey will be available for one month – until June 14.

Among strengths, the groups listed the city’s waterfront, proximity to the college, the history/heritage of the area, the weather and other things.

Fred Maxon cited Oswego’s location.

“We’re a destination. You come to the lake. You take the road to our city, not through it to somewhere else; we aren’t a speed bump,” he said.

The weather was also listed under weaknesses. Others were a lack of good housing stock, the appearance of some buildings, difficulty in being able to safely cross streets, and a lack of parking.

“The appearance of many homes (buildings), city-wide, is unappealing. Why would anyone want to come here?” asked Sharon Komenesky.

Jane Murphy, of Literacy Volunteers of Oswego County, noted the area is losing many of its youngsters right after high school and college graduation.

There is a need to get the entire community involved to provide better literacy and math skills, she said, adding most of today’s jobs involve some degree of technology and job seekers need to be better prepared these days.

“I was one of those,” said local businessman Bill Simmons. “I found out that it’s not as bad here as in many other places. The kids today are worried about where they’ll find a job. We need to attract more business here to give them opportunities, a reason to come back.”

That problem isn’t specific to Oswego, Raus said. It is something all of Central New York is dealing with, he noted.

Once the strengths and weaknesses lists were finished, participants at the meetings were asked to highlight their top three.

From that, and the survey results, Bergmann will prepare a prioritized list.

By late summer, they will come up with a draft plan.

The public’s next chance for participation will be in August.

The draft plan will be reviewed in September. There will be a public hearing in October before the final plan is presented to the city for adoption.

Simmons, who worked on the original 2020 plan, said he hopes follows up on the plan more closely this time.

No one seemed to follow through on things last time, he said.

Adopted in August 2003, the plan is meant to guide the city’s economic and community development through 2023.

It is “a living document,” which requires periodic review and modification by the community to ensure that the Port City achieves its long-term goals and objectives, agreed Vanouse.

The draft revision will be reviewed by the council before being adopted.

The plans are to continue to review the plan from time to time and unsure the city is using it to their best advantage, Vanouse said.