OSWEGO — The Brittany Hill housing development on the eastern edge of the city of Oswego is scheduled to receive much-needed infrastructure improvements, with city officials recently accepting a more than $650,000 bid to complete that work in addition to a street widening and pavement project across the river on Munn Street.
The Oswego Common Council accepted a $674,451 bid from local contractor W.D. Malone for the improvements to Munn Street and Brittany Hill earlier this week, with some councilors objecting to the Munn Street work and voting against the measure. Mayor Billy Barlow was forced to cast the deciding vote with the council deadlocked due to the absence of Councilor Ron Tesoriero, R-6th Ward.
City officials said the work is scheduled to be completed by November.
The Brittany Hill project seeks to remedy drainage and infrastructure challenges facing the development. Barlow said the issues stem from construction flaws that have existed throughout the life of the housing development.
“These issues have existed since the project was considered complete, which I would dispute it’s even completed to this day,” Barlow said, adding he doesn’t believe the developer, contractor or city did their due diligence during the design and construction of the development. “And that is what is leading to the need for these improvements today.”
Catch basins, a paved gutter system and other improvements are slated for the development to alleviate drainage issues, according to city officials, and the project calls for the entire development — outside a small section paved a few years ago on Arcadia Avenue — to be paved.
Barlow said the Munn Street work would include widening and paving of the street. Residents in the area have complained the street is too narrow, the mayor said, noting the narrow roadway doesn’t leave enough room for vehicles in each direction and pedestrians.
Council President Rob Corradino, R-7th Ward, said more than two years ago residents of Brittany Hill came to the council to express concerns with the roadways, which were properly completed, and drainage issues.
“Not only is this work needed, but it’s overdue,” Corradino said.
Corradino spoke in support of the Munn Street widening and paving project as well, saying the roadway has not seen improvement in more than 35 years, noting the street is approximately 24 feet wide, or about 6 feet narrower than most city streets.
“Taking into account the winter snow load on the side of the road, you’re going to get a road that’s about 20 feet wide after January and February snowfalls,” he said. “That section of the road does not have any sidewalks… so I believe this is not only an overdue project, but a project that will cause the road to be safer.”
Corradino, who owns property on Munn Street, said when a roadway is not wide enough for two cars to pass during the winter time, it’s “incumbent upon the city leaders to do something about that.” He noted a number of housing developments and the Oswego Middle School were built and brought more traffic and congestion to the area in recent decades.
Council Vice President Kevin Hill, R-3rd Ward, fully supported the Brittany Hill improvements, but objected to the Munn Street portion of the bid and called it “unfortunate that they were lumped together.” Hill expressed disappointment the council could “unilaterally decide to reclaim several feet of our neighbors’ front yards without even a hearing.”
“We’re going to be losing several mature trees, landscaping, taking people’s yards away from them,” Hill said, calling it a “significant change” and a “significant detriment” to some residents. “We need the fortitude to make decisions that are necessary, but in all of our discussions I’ve yet to see a real compelling reason to do this work.”
Hill also lamented the milling and paving of Munn Street, saying it sidesteps the city’s typical annual procedures for street paving.
In addition to Hill, councilors Linda DeMassi, R-2nd Ward, and Robert Wilmott, R-4th Ward, opposed the measure. Corradino and councilors Susan McBrearty, D-1st Ward, and John Gosek Jr., R-5th Ward, voted in favor of moving the projects forward.
Barlow said he voted yes “because the Brittany Hills improvements desperately needed to happen,” adding he was proud to deliver the funding to fix the issues and applauded Tesoriero for moving the project forward.
“The residents have clearly demonstrated the issues they’ve experienced and I think that unfortunately, the city did not hold the developer and contractors accountable back when it was built,” he said. “So the responsibility is now ours to make it right.”