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Oswego Common Council proposes winter parking ban with exemptions

Gino Geruntino
WRVO News File Photo

At its meeting Monday night, the Oswego Common Council revealed a much-awaited plan to address the city's controversial winter parking policy. The proposal would keep the overnight parking ban in place, extending it from 1 a.m.-6 a.m. to 12 a.m.-6 a.m., while allowing residents with inadequate parking space to apply for on-street parking permits. 

Councilor Nate Emmons said residents who are approved for the exemption would pay $125 for the annual permit, which would follow an odd-even side system. 

"This was the balance between the strict overnight ban and the 24-hour parking policy, at least giving some residents who actually have a real need - don't have parking or have very restrictive parking or have some specialized circumstances on top of that - the ability to park on the street if need be," Emmons said. 

A similar arrangement already exists where residents can apply for the ability to park on the street with their councilor, but no fee is assessed. Emmons said this plan would be more stringent, with a cost for the permits and the requirement that representatives from the Oswego Police Department, Department of Public Works and Common Council sign off on each exemption.

The plan would still allow the mayor to issue a total executive ban for parking in the event of a weather emergency and continue offering municipal lots for overnight parking. 

The winter parking ban would have a set date each year, November 15-March 31, to avoid confusion and miscommunication that has drawn criticism in the past. Resident Molly Clark said while she would prefer a year-round policy, but she said the council's plan is a reasonable compromise. 

It was well-received by other members of the public in attendance at Monday's meeting as well, who literally applauded the council for drafting a plan after past administration's had repeatedly changed and revisited the issue. The presentation Monday night fulfills a pledge Councilor Rob Corradino made on August 1 to have a proposal within two weeks time. At that meeting, Councilor Caitlin Reynolds had proposed a 24-hour alternate side parking plan, but members of the council and city government expressed concern about a one-size-fits-all solution. Reynolds said she approves of this step. 

"I like this as a starting point because it does give an option to the people who don't have a driveway," Reynolds said.

Emmons  said councilors are still tweaking the current proposal, such as how many permits should be available for rental units with multiple tenants, but he hopes to have a final plan in place for consideration by early September. 

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.