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Oswego Common Council pledges to fix winter parking policy

Payne Horning

While many cities in upstate New York have established a permanent winter parking policy, Oswego continually revisits the issue. 

When the new council and mayor were sworn in earlier this year, they reinstated the old and controversial winter parking ban from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m., saying it was too late to develop a new plan. But the council promised to find a more popular solution for next year by forming a special committee. That never happened.

So Councilor Caitlin Reynolds presented her fix Monday that would implement a 24-hour alternate side parking plan, similar to what Syracuse uses.

"I think it will take care of a lot of safety concerns. At all times, one side of the street will be clear so emergency vehicles can get through, one side of the street can be plowed," Reynolds said. 

Reynold's resolution is meant to simplify and expand the alternate side parking plan the city had used two years ago that was only in effect for some overnight hours. Yet many residents and the city's Department of Public Works (DPW) Director Tom Kells said at the meeting that a one-size-fits-all policy may not be best since the city's neighborhoods are so different.

"What we’ve done in the past is either A or Z. The ban, not the ban. Back and forth. I really believe we need to come up with an alternate, something in the middle," Kells said. "The parking problem is not city wide and if we do the alternate, it hinders the DPW to a point where we aren’t getting into neighborhoods as quickly as we like because it slows the process down. Why not target the areas that have the issue? Allow for parking permits for residents that have no parking." 

Resident Catharine Early agreed with the idea of allowing specific policies for different neighborhoods. But she said whatever the fix, it needs to remain in place.

"I think people can learn it, but they can’t learn it and keep it in their memories if it keeps changing every year," Early said.

The council again tabled the issue but pledged to have a final solution for consideration in two weeks. Reynolds said she is sticking by her resolution as written, but some councilors like Pat McLaughlin and DPW Director Kells said they are interested in exploring a ban that would allow some residents to opt into a 24-hour alternate side plan by paying a fee, like what Utica offers.

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.