Council Votes to Widen Access On Busy Center City Street


Ford Avenue Fire Prompts

Council To Limit Parking

Oak Street resident Penny Cypress shows Council members Michele Frazier, First Ward, and Melissa Nicosia, Second Ward, photos of parking problems along Oak Street. (Ian Austin/

By CATHY NARDI • Special to

ONEONTA – With citizens voicing concerns that narrow streets lined with cars are limiting access for emergency vehicles, Common Council voted to restrict parking to one side of Oak Street, a short street between Dietz Street and Ford Avenue.

“That fire on Ford Avenue really sunk into me as to how difficult it would be if we had a fire,” said Oak Street resident Kristen Sloth told council at its Tuesday meeting.  “The fire trucks and rescue vehicles were all parked along one side of the street on Ford. If we had a fire, they would have a hard time getting down our street.”

“Today, when I was coming here, there were 17 cars parked along both sides of the street – and there are only five houses,” said Penny Cypress, 7 Oak St.

There are special needs residents in one house who take a bus, which often blocks the entire road because it is not able to pull up to the curb, Cypress said.

The motion to change the parking on Oak Street was on the agenda, which prompted neighbors there to speak during the public-comment section of Tuesday’s meeting.

The motion to authorize the Department of Public Service to install the appropriate signs to inform residents of parking restrictions appeared on the agenda as restricting the south side of Oak Street for six days, however, after much discussion, it was decided to reverse the motion, restricting parking on the north side of Oak Street.

“It would be better, so when the bus pulls in to pick up Springbrook residents, they could come to the stop, and not have to go around cars, and stop in the middle of the street,” Sloth said.

When the consent agenda was read, Mayor Gary Herzig changed the motion to reflect the will of Council and the residents of Oak Street.

In other business:

• Council voted to extend the contract for McFarland-Johnson – an aviation engineering, architectural and planning firm – another five years. The Federal Aviation Administration mandates that a consultant be retained for a five-year contract. McFarland-Johnson has been the consultant for a number of years. In the coming months the airport commission will consider a new 20-year plan, also mandated by the FAA.

“This airport is an asset to the community,” said airport commissioner Ed May. “It’s the only paved airport around, and we have people flying in for the Baseball Hall of Fame, for both hospitals and for the Opera. It gets used.”

•  Council approved the appointment of Stafford Gayle as a full-time bus driver.

• Before going into executive session to discuss the contract with the Unified Federation of Police Officers – which was later ratified – Mayor Herzig announced that the Oneonta Fire Commission plans to dissolve the fire districts.

“We will continue to negotiate if they are willing,” Herzig said. “We will provide fire protection to our residents.”


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