Coffee chain caused city consternation

OSWEGO — The controversial downtown Oswego Dunkin’ Donuts is scheduled to open its doors to customers today.

Sources at the 275 W. 1st St. location confirmed to The Palladium-Times Saturday the store plans to open its third location in the Port City today at 5 a.m., ending a saga of controversy that included heavy opposition to the construction of the chain’s downtown location.

In August of 2018, the Oswego City Planning Board approved the 1,875 square foot restaurant — with a special permit for a drive-thru window — in the lot adjacent to the historic YMCA Armory building.

The approval followed a seven-month period when residents expressed their concerns at multiple public hearings which included parking issues in an area that already faces scarcity of spaces and concerns over the adjacent Harbor Trail.

Organizations such as the Save Oswego’s Historic Sites also expressed distress over the potential increase in traffic in the downtown area due to drive-thru transactions

“Dunkin Donuts conducted their own (traffic) study and determined it would not be a problem,” said preservation activist Mercedes Niess. “I guess we will find out how the traffic pattern will affect that intersection. We hope our residents will be able to safely cross. It is a busy area.”

Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow told The Palladium-Times on Sunday the new location faced no credible legal issues despite the staunch opposition.

“Regardless of how anyone may have felt as Dunkin’ went through the approval process, the fact is there was no real, legally binding issue to deem it inappropriate for the location,” Barlow said.

In the months leading up to the approval of the store’s construction, Planning Board meetings featured back-and-forth communication between residents expressing their concerns, franchisee Tom Santurri — owner of several other central New York Dunkin’ Donuts stores — and ESW Realty architect Bob Abbott. 

At the end of the process, the project had undergone multiple redrawings and amendments, according to a previous report by The Palladium-Times.

At the August 2018 Planning Board meeting, company officials said the Dunkin’ Donuts building would aim to mimic the neighboring YMCA building’s historic brick tower look. 

In an interview Sunday, Barlow commended the efforts of the ownership and planning groups to compromise and adjust to community suggestions.

“I do think the owners have given an honest effort to add some historical-looking features, making the building more attractive than an ordinary Dunkin store,” Barlow said. “They’ve also done a nice job with the landscaping and layout of the lot, and I think they were sensitive and responsive to our concerns.”

Barlow added the city is set to remain vigilant for any issues that may arise from the opening of the Dunkin’ downtown location.

“We’ll definitely keep an eye on traffic patterns around the location and make any changes if there are any issues,” he said. “But now that it is approved and open, I don’t find it particularly productive to speak negatively about the development.”

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