Broad St. to close for City Cen­ter Mar­ket

The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Oneida, NY) - - Front Page - By Charles Pritchard cpritchard@onei­dadis­

The city of Oneida voted 5-1 to go ahead with clos­ing down part of Broad Street for the City Cen­ter Mar­ket.

On May 24, OC3 plans to host its first City Cen­ter Mar­ket from 3:30-8 p.m. OC3 Pres­i­dent Paul Marco pre­vi­ously sug­gested clos­ing down Far­rier Av­enue for the event to set up ven­dors; how­ever, coun­cilors and res­i­dents were con­cerned about the im­pact that would have on the post of­fice.

Ward 4 Coun­cilor He­len Acker on May 1 sug­gested clos­ing down part of Broad Street after con­firm­ing with Fire Chief Kevin Salerno it would not im­pact the fire depart­ment. Since then, mem­bers of the coun­cil and OC3 have been in dis­cus­sions with Wil­ber-Duck own­ers Frank Duck III and Biff Wil­ber.

Ward 5 Coun­cilor Jim Cham­ber­lain said Duck and Wil­ber were 100 per­cent against clos­ing part of Broad Street. Wil­ber-Duck’s reg­u­lar hours on Thurs­day are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., putting it at odds with City Cen­ter Mar­ket’s time frame.

“I talked with him for quite a while and gave him my opin­ion,” Cham­ber­lain said. “Duck thinks that it’s go­ing to shut his busi­ness down and I tried to as­sure him that I thought it would do the op­po­site. I’m not against the event, I just want to jus­tify some of the ques­tions of a fairly big busi­ness.”

Cham­ber­lain said Duck was hop­ing to at­tend the coun­cil meet­ing, but he was ul­ti­mately un­able to.

“I think there was a lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. I know mem­bers of OC3 went to Wil­ber-Duck,” Cham­ber­lain said. “After look­ing at things though, I don’t think things can be switched around. There’s no way to do it as a one-way road. I feel for Frank and Biff and I sup­port them, but I also sup­port this. I’m put be­tween a rock and a hard place.”

Mayor Leo Matzke said from a prac­ti­cal point of view, the park­ing spots along Broad Street are go­ing to be taken up by those at­tend­ing the City Cen­ter Mar­ket.

“There’s got to be some­thing we can do to com­pro­mise,” said Ward 1 Coun­cilor Al Co­hen said, who was the sole nay vote.

Ward 2 Coun­cilor Mike Bowe sug­gested cor­don­ing off part of north side of Far­rier Av­enue and ad­ver­tis­ing it as park­ing for Wil­ber-Duck cus­tomers only.

City At­tor­ney Na­dine Bell said in the case of city park­ing, the city can’t des­ig­nate any street park­ing for one par­tic­u­lar busi­ness.

“I’d be hes­i­tant from a le­gal stand-point if we go down this road and say this is for one par­tic­u­lar busi­ness,” Bell said.

Coun­cil mem­bers were in agree­ment that they do not want to neg­a­tively af­fect any busi­nesses, but would like to see the City Cen­ter Mar­ket suc­ceed.

Dr. John Costello Jr. and Marco said the pos­i­tive ben­e­fits of the mar­ket wouldbe good for all of Oneida in the long run.

“We have 18 ven­dors lined up and bands with thou­sands of fol­low­ers. With that, it’s more bod­ies down­town. It’s a start­ing point to show the bones Oneida has,” Costello said. “We’re try­ing to get more walk­ing traf­fic through Oneida, we’ve got ac­tiv­i­ties for fam­i­lies and a different food truck ev­ery week. We’re hop­ing next year the prob­lem is to have 20, 25 or 30 ven­dors and nowhere to put them. To worry about one per­son who has a busi­ness on the street and vote against it? There’s a big­ger pic­ture to this.”

Co­hen said he was still wor­ried that it wasn’t go­ing to be a mi­nor in­con­ve­nience to Wil­ber-Duck, but af­fect con­trac­tual the deal­er­ship’s obli­ga­tions, and the city had to look into those con­cerns.

“Duck ap­peared to act the same way I think I would act if my busi­ness was in jeop­ardy,” Co­hen said.

Bell said while she wasn’t copied in on an email Duck sent coun­cilors, any con­trac­tual con­cerns Duck had would be a pri­vate obli­ga­tion be­tween Wil­ber-Duck and Chev­er­lot.

“We have no right as a city to in­ter­vene in that con­tract, it’s not our busi­ness, but we have not seen the con­tract,” Bell said. “We have no idea what the con­trac­tual re­la­tion­ship is. If it’s sim­ply to be open, as it has been in­di­cated, this event won’t stop them from be­ing open. And he wouldn’t be able to con­trac­tu­ally agree to pro­vide park­ing on city prop­erty and guar­an­tee city street park­ing.”

Ward 3 Coun­cilor James Coulthart said as some­one who made a liv­ing in sales and mar­ket­ing for five years, he saw this as a pos­i­tive thing.

“I would be putting up bal­loons and singing praise I have peo­ple com­ing into my neck of the woods on a Thurs­day night,” Coulthart said. “I’d be in­ter­ested to see just how­many peo­ple come to Wil­ber-Duck on a Thurs­day. I think it’s an op­por­tu­nity for them.”

Quick Hits

•Matzke wel­comed new City En­gi­neer Eric Schuler to his first com­mon coun­cil meet­ing.

“Schuler has been a God­send to us. We’ve looked for months to find a pro­fes­sional en­gi­neer. He’s been a project man­ager for mu­nic­i­pal projects through­out cen­tral and north­ern New York, so he knows the pol­i­tics of things and how it works,” Matzke said. “And he’s been a lead en­gi­neer on mu­nic­i­pal wa­ter, waste-wa­ter, trans­porta­tion and site projects. It doesn’t get better than that, but on top if it all he’s young, en­thu­si­as­tic and his goal in life was to run an en­gi­neer­ing depart­ment for a city.”

For his first week as city en­gi­neer, Schuler has been get­ting ac­quainted with how things work at the city of Oneida and hasn’t run across any se­ri­ous is­sues.

“It’s been great so far,” Schuler said. “I’m re­ally ex­cited to work here and start help­ing out with the city’s cap­i­tal projects.”

• Com­mon counci l opened a pub­lic hear­ing to amend city codes on grass, brush and weeds while also amend­ing codes re­lated to com­post piles in the city.

“We’re tak­ing a whole different ap­proach to it and giv­ing the code some teeth,” Matzke said.

Cham­ber­lain has been work­ing on the code with Bell for al­most two years. He said the two key words of the new law are “de­tract” and “de­value.” No Oneida cit­i­zens stepped for­ward to speak.

•As­sis­tant Fire Chief Den­nis Fields met with an en­gi­neer hired by Moose Lodge prospec­tive buyer Brad Marshall to in­spect the 409 Ge­ne­see St. build­ing, and the re­port has been sub­mit­ted.

Fields rec­om­mended coun­cil give Marshall some lee­way and time to start the process needed to ren­o­vate.

Matzke was con­cerned about be­ing burned as the city has in the past, but Fields said Marshall paid for the en­gi­neer out of pocket and is se­ri­ous about the pur­chase. Fields said Marshall in­tends to be at the next com­mon coun­cil meet­ing.

Coulthart said he would like in­terim bench­marks so the city could prop­erly see progress made in the build­ing.

•Matzke thanked Fire Chief Kevin Salerno for his ser­vice to Oneida at the last com­mon coun­cil meet­ing Salerno would at­tend.

“Salerno be­gan as a fire fighter in 1990, so he’s been here for 28 years. He was pro­moted to lieu­tenant just be­fore 2000. In 2011, he was pro­moted to deputy chief and in 2013, bap­tized by the flood, he was pro­moted to be our fire chief,” Matzke said. “We’ll miss you.”

Salerno said it was an honor work­ing with the city of Oneida and­was thank­ful for all the help the city has given over the years.

As­sis­tant Fire Chief Den­nis Fields Jr. will be tak­ing over as fire chief on May 30.


Ward 6Coun­cilor Tom Sim­chik speaks with new City Enginer Eric Schuler on Tues­day, May 15, 2018.

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