OSWEGO, NY – Approximately six dozen people crowded into the Council Chamber at Oswego City Hall Wednesday night to vent their frustrations, ask questions and make suggestions. Several also complimented the administration and various city departments for doing a good job under tough conditions.
The town hall meetings work out very well because they bring a lot of things to the attention of the councilors, explained Second Ward Councilor Mike Myers.
There were several questions regarding quality of life issues.
One of the captains of the Neighborhood Watch encouraged residents to keep themselves safe and work in pairs. She cited the police for the help they give the program and residents.
“We have a great police department. When you see suspicious activity, no matter what it may be, the first call ought to be to OPD (or 911 in case of an emergency),” Seventh Ward Councilor Ron Kaplewicz said. “Never put yourself in an unsafe situation.
A Gregory Street resident thanked the DPW for the “magnificent job” they’ve done.
She also pointed out problems in the area, such as garbage dumpster.
“It’s an eyesore that we’d like have taken care of,” she told the councilors.
City officials also heard about rentals allegedly with more than the allowed number of unrelated people living there, parking problems and dangerous / abandoned structures.
Several residents complained about the lack of parking in many city neighborhoods.
That is a problem that is being addressed by the city, Mayor Tom Gillen said.
“We are looking at a variety of options,” he said. “This is a problem all around the city and is especially troublesome in certain neighborhoods.”
Sue Sweet, a former Third Ward councilor, suggested the city try an alternate parking plan.
“(Many residents) have postage stamp-sized front yard parking. A lot of people don’t have parking facilities,” she said.
“It’s something we will consider. We will have an honest discussion about this issue,” the mayor said.
“What we’re doing is sitting down and looking at what streets would need what,” Sixth Ward Councilor Erik VanBuren added. “It’s not a one size fits all kind of fix. We have to look at each street, each situation.”
Kaplewicz agreed and suggested the residents get together with their councilors and discuss this issue to find what can be done, “to get the focus on the issue” and find ways to fix it.
Another concern was the so-called “drunk bus” that drops off large groups in neighborhoods; they are usually headed to a house party in the area, pointed out Betty Gray, coordinator of the Oswego Neighborhood Watch group.
“Anybody can ride that bus, it’s not just the college kids,” she said. “The college kids need to know our laws. Gradually, I see they are starting to learn what our laws are – because they are getting arrested and word is getting out.”
She added that what is helping also is Mayor Gillen’s meetings with representatives from the college.
The mayor agreed.
“We’ve got work together as a community. If you want change, you have to help make it happen,” he said, thanking the audience for coming out and taking an active role in their city.
Kaplewicz pointed out that there is a lot of positive things happening right now in Oswego. He cited several areas of progress including the Broadwells’ conference center, the Port Authority, increased activity downtown, the construction at the site of the former St. Louis Church and more.
Despite the hard times, the city is moving in the right direction, he said.
The council will seriously consider all the issues brought up at the town hall meeting and likely schedule another one sometime in the future he said, adding that it is very helpful for the councilors to hear what’s on the public’s mind.