OSWEGO, NY – A tentative agreement between the city and town of Oswego regarding connecting the Ontario Heights Sewer District into the Oswego City sewer system was heavily debated at Monday night’s Administrative Services Committee.
However, after nearly two hours of talk, the issue remains unresolved. The committee took no action.
The district is home to a planned student housing facility.
Greg Furlong, an Oswego landlord, said the city should take care of the city.
“The job of the city is to grow the city,” he told the committee. “Let’s come up with a plan to grow the city. Why are we worried about what the town’s going to do? Why are we looking to help the town? It makes no sense to me.”
Oswego would lose money if more college kids lived outside the city, he said.
Richard Kaulfuss, Oswego Town supervisor, said he appreciates the good working relationship the town has had with the city over the years.
The town is looking to get more development to help stave off a large tax increase, he explained, adding that the sewer connection would benefit that cause.
“To us, this just isn’t just about Lakeside Commons. It’s about the city trying to tell the town that we can’t develop,” he said.
If the city of Oswego is telling the town it can’t grow, “then we have to start looking elsewhere,” he continued. “This affects more than just one project; a project that may or may not come to be.”
Council President Shawn Walker wondered if the town would assist the city in paying on the consent decree. The town will contribute.
Kevin Caraccioli, city attorney, advised the councilors to be very deliberate in whatever they decide to do.
“How do we approach the letting of our sewer services to others? Virtually all of your answers would be found in the city code,” he pointed out.
He encouraged the councilors to read the sections dealing with the city’s sewer system.
“I think it’s important that you read it and understand what it says,” he said.
“The sewer code discusses capacity. It doesn’t distinguish between the types of users, it doesn’t distinguish between apartment complexes and single-family homes,” he said.
The contract allows for 45,000 gallons of additional capacity. The city could handle that, Caraccioli said.
He also pointed out that under the new deal, the town would pay more to the city. Since the contract has expired, the town is paying the old rate. Therefore, the city is losing money, he pointed out.
“We only all benefit the more we reach out and help everyone else,” he said. “This is an important matter, clearly I recognize that,” he said. “I also recognize that we have a real opportunity to become a major regional player. We all wish that maybe some day we’ll get there. Well, today is that day. We’re here. We have decisions to make, whether we grow as a region or we stay put as a community. Doing anything other than looking broadly just kicks the can down the road. What I want to do, what I hope you want to do, what I think the majority of people in this community want to do is crush that can once and for all.”