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Oswego residents unhappy with overnight winter parking ban

Payne Horning
Oswego residents packed City Hall Monday at a forum on city street parking policies during winter months.

Oswego officials are wrestling with how to handle street parking during winter months. An unsuccessful alternate side parking plan from 2015 prevented snowplows from effectively clearing city roads, leading Oswego's new mayor to implement an overnight parking ban this year. But, the city's residents are not satisfied with the move.  

More than a dozen Oswego residents criticized the overnight ban at a public forum Monday. Mayor Billy Barlow said trying to implement a new parking policy after he assumed office this month, in the middle of winter, was unrealistic. And, he defended the ban by saying last year's alternate side parking policy was a disaster. It prohibited parking on one side of the street each night from 1 a.m. - 6 a.m. Some residents, like Molly Clark, agreed that the plan failed. However, she said the city should consider other options.

Credit Payne Horning / WRVO News
Oswego resident Molly Clark said the overnight winter parking ban on city streets was not a practical solution for modern times.

"You can’t solve a 21st century problem with a 19th century solution and expect the city to grow."

Most of those who spoke said a ban isn't practical because Oswego has many old homes that don't have driveways. Resident Adam Faye said he thinks a ban will deter future homeowners from moving to Oswego.

"When we heard that this total parking ban was an issue that was on the table, we immediately ruled out a ton of properties that we were looking at. It’s not practical for people to buy a house today and not be able to park their cars," Faye said.

Resident Brian Steffen said that most modern families now have at least two cars per household.

"To attract families you have to have viable real estate and if the real estate does not have the opportunity for families to park sufficient cars for their needs, that’s anti-family," Steffen said. "That’s driving families out of the community."

The city has opened municipal lots for residents free of charge. but some say that walking to those lots on icy sidewalks is dangerous.

Barlow and members of the Common Council determined that it is too late in the winter season to implement a new parking policy. They plan to look into other options for the next winter season, including a 24-hour alternate side parking plan like what Syracuse uses. Council chairman Shawn Walker said that's where the city went wrong with the former plan.

"I think that might be the solution because you’ll always have one side open," Walker said.

Barlow, too, said he thinks the 24-hour alternate policy is something worth exploring.

"I personally think that’s the only real viable option left," Barlow said. "We certainly can’t go back to where it was last year."

Watertown and Utica ban parking overnight as well, but Utica does allow exceptions for residents who pay for a permit.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.