Broad St. to close for City Center Market
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.”
•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.