Third Ward Dealing With Variety Of Issues

OSWEGO, NY – The Port City’s Third Ward is home to a variety of owner occupied homes, rental properties and businesses.

However, it shares some problems with other wards as well, including out-of-town landlords.

walk  porch
Neal Smith notes the large hole in the floor of a porch. Youngsters have been stuffing the hole with assorted debris. Neighbors fear it will spark a fire.

Third Ward Councilor Mike Todd came prepared with more than six legal pad pages of notes. He pointed out many of those sites to the posse of city officials who joined him Monday for the more than one hour tour.

“I try to figure out how some of these places get rental permits every year. It kind of baffles me,” he told Oswego County Today. “I’ve got nearly seven full pages of houses that should never have a rental permit or should pass a code inspection.”

One property in his crosshairs is the former drug store next to Stone’s Candies on West Bridge Street.

The vacant building has windows out, gapping holes in the sides and other significant safety issues, he noted.

The councilor is urging the city to take a tougher stance with landlords and others who own ‘problem properties’ and have been slow to even begin correcting even the most grievous problems.

walk  grass
Mary Vanouse, community development director, and Tony Leotta, city engineer, approach an area of tall grass.

Ticket and fine them if they continue to drag their feet regarding compliance, he said.

“When this ward looks (as nice as) the Fifth and Seventh wards, then we can work with them a little bit,” he added.

According to the councilor, some landlords in the ward are occupying their rentals, without occupancy permits, for six or seven months.

The former drug store property is the subject of a demolition hearing slated for before the end of June, said Neal Smith, director of Code Enforcement.

It should have been razed weeks ago, the councilor said.

“There’s no future for this building,” Smith agreed. “It’s got to go.”

There are some rentals in the ward where the residents hold “huge, crazy, wild parties at all hours of the night,” Todd said. “The kids don’t care if the landlord gets points (against the property) or fined. They’re going to be moving out in a few months anyway.”

walk  trash
In some areas of the ward, trash and furniture have been collecting at the curb for weeks.

“You are never going to make them change their strips,” Smith said of some of the owners of the more dilapidated properties. “We’re doing our best to try and keep up with everything; but it seems once you get one fore put out here, another one pops up some place else. It’s a never-ending battle.”

The purpose of the ward walks is to identify problems before they become major issues and find ways of correcting them.

Smith said Monday he noted more than a dozen violations the property

owners will have to correct.


  1. Twenty years ago in Fulton they had a landlord’s association to help landlords filter out those problem tenants. As many renters are more transient, IOW: annually changing locations, there is no ‘investment’ in either community or even city.

    By having a list of the worst offenders, landlords could manage those that might become a problem for them. Eventually, the worst offenders were forced to leave the area because they couldn’t find a rental option.

    We don’t have anything like this in Oswego that I know of. And it would be a great idea. THIS might discourage even mild-offenders (or maybe especially those) from leaving a black mark against them. IF you can’t find anywhere decent to live, you eventually either clean up or act, or you leave. Leaving would not be a loss to Oswego for many of the problem rentals, we would all agree.

    We, in Oswego, all know that this is not the community where we raised our children. OUR off-spring have had to leave the area in order to find jobs, and the rentals are now filled with individuals who have come to Oswego County for the easy ‘service ammenities,’ if you know what I mean. They come with their own life-styles, and they are not always conducive to community objectives.

    I don’t think the 20/20 plan saw this coming, although I believe the zoning folks had to have seen the writing on the wall the past twenty years as residential dwellings became rentals in many of the more desireable neighborhoods, and those property owners moved into the developments (those more efficient wards the alderman spoke of).

    Personally, I believe there was little attention paid through several administrations to this shift in residential areas, and we are now paying the price.

    Mr. Leotta often spoke of progress when large Third Ward houses were cut into smaller apartments at the Zoning Board meetings I attended. I, personally, pointed out that the owners might shift from local (invested) landlords to out of town as the first tier of landlords retired or moved away.

    THIS is the situation we have now, I believe. Less investment in Oswego, more in flipping a building, or just collecting rents from renters who are also not invested in family and community in Oswego.

    IF you want a barometer of community, take a look at our church bazaars in the summers. Fewer families attend, because we have fewer families residing in our city, and those recent urban transplants we do, have no interest in how we’ve come to enjoy life in our small city.

  2. As a former resident of Oswego, I am glad they are attempting to address the issue. My husband and our daughter lived 2 blocks away from Stone’s Candies for 3 years, and every year the neighborhood got worse. Our house was broken into, our cars were vandalized, people constantly blocked our driveway parking on the street, we had drunk people walking home and screaming at 3 in the morning, and we woke up daily to trash being thrown in our yard.
    I think it’s unfortunate that landlords only care about getting their money no matter where its coming from and are chosing to rent to people who clearly do not value their property and don’t see how beautiful the city of Oswego can be.

  3. As one of those who have moved away because of the lack of employment, you have to return back every few years to see that the Port City has gone way down hill in the last 15 years. Now, don’t get me wrong, their are still allot of home owners who keep their propery in pristine condition but their needs to be much stricter regulation on rental property’s. We now live in North Carolina and you don’t see run down property’s stay that way very long. I have been home every other year and Mack’s Drug Stone has been going down hill for over 20 years. Go Figure!!!!

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