Woman Crusades For Safer Sidewalks In Oswego

OSWEGO, NY – At this week’s Common Council meeting, Kathleen Harris, an elderly westside resident, told the aldermen she was concerned about the condition of the city’s sidewalks in some areas.

A few years ago, she was injured in a fall on a city sidewalk. She received an insurance payment, but still feels the city was liable.

She then went around the city and mapped out where deteriorated and potentially hazardous sections of sidewalk were located.

Kathleen Harris speaks to councilors about the condition of city sidewalks.
Kathleen Harris speaks to councilors about the condition of city sidewalks.

At the time, she made several copies of her findings. She kept one and gave the others to the DPW commissioner and councilors at the time.

“I’m wondering what happened to all those files that I worked so hard to record in the whole city,” she said.

Now that the city is in possession of her data, it means if someone falls on (an uneven or broken) sidewalk, the city is responsible, Harris claimed, adding they can’t hide behind the excuse they don’t know where the bad parts are.

It was a lot paperwork and it took more than three years to complete, she noted.

“I did it for the benefit of everybody,” she explained.

Harris said she’s knows a couple of the councilors have copies but doesn’t believe any of the other aldermen have the data.

After speaking with DPW commissioner Mike Smith, Mayor Randy Bateman said the city does have copies of the files.

Council President Dan Donovan noted councilors who have problems with sidewalks in their wards should notify the DPW. They have done some work this year and hope to get to more next year, he said, adding he appreciates Harris’ efforts.

“We have come across some sidewalks in the Second Ward that were trip hazards and the DPW commissioner has worked very hard with me to address the situation,” said Second Ward Councilor Mike Myers.


  1. Cities like to violate the law by pretending to follow the law. The issue is not only vertical displacement, but in excessive cross slope. The crossslope of a sidewalk should not exceed 2% Why? because seniors and people with disability cannot negotiate such steep cross slopes without extreem effort, danger of falls, falls, injury to spine, kidneys, etc.

    Here in Cambridge, MA, after the City continued to ignor both Mass State safety code, MAAB, and the Federal ADA, I finally filed and won complaints against the City, and DPW.

    The City cannot use failure to give notice as a defense, because federal law requires that the City notify the people of their civil rights and do an access survey. many City’s have failed to do this, and in fact lie to the people.

    Thanks for doing this report, and I urge more news about civil rights on disability.

    Federal law says: A city is not required to provide sidewalks, but when they do so, they must be constructed and maintained in such a way so as not to discriminate based on disability.

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