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Oswego proposes “social district” to bring business downtown

Jason Smith
WRVO News (file photo)

Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow said a practice that helps drum up business down south could be a good fit for his city.

He’s proposing creating what he calls a “social district” each year from June 1 through October 1. The proposal would lift the open container ordinance in a certain portion of the city, allowing pedestrians to leave restaurants and bars with alcohol in a cup and walk through city streets and parks.

The area would stretch from West Second St. to East Second St. and from Utica St. to the shoreline along Lake Ontario. Wright’s Landing Marina, Veteran’s Stage, and Water Street Square would also be included.

Barlow said Oswego has had success with a similar policy during city events, and he hopes the move will boost business.

"If somebody's out downtown walking the river walk for example, now they have the ability to say, ‘Oh let's stop in. We can get a drink and continue our walk,’” he said. “I think that's a great opportunity."

Barlow said downtown Oswego has had a new energy since winning a $10 million revitalization grant in 2016, and he’s hoping the social district can capitalize on that.

"We've seen almost a dozen new economic development projects, whether it's a new city park like Water Street Square, we've enhanced the concert series at Veteran's Stage during the summertime, and we've seen several mixed use developments take place from that grant."

The proposal is on the agenda for Monday’s Administrative Services Committee Meeting. If approved by the committee, there will be a public hearing, so city officials can address any concerns from the community before a final vote.

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.