FULTON — The Fulton Common Council discussed the possibility of Bird scooters coming to Fulton at its meeting on Tuesday.
The councilors voted to authorize Mayor Deana Michaels to negotiate and execute a memorandum of understanding with Bird Rides, Inc.
Bird scooters provide an electric and carbon-free alternative to cars, according to the company’s website. Users can download an app on their mobile device to access a map that locates scooters, and riders pay to use the scooters per minute. Bird also offers electric bicycles.
Oswego County Legislator for the 25th District and Fulton resident Frank Castiglia Jr. voiced his concerns about the scooters coming to Fulton.
“I really feel that we’re about four or five years ahead of where we need to be with scooters,” Castiglia said. “I see them on my street, gas powered, electric, coming up and down my street somewhere around 30 miles per hour. I see them going up and down on the sidewalks. I see them going the opposite direction to traffic. … Just today up in Oswego at Hamilton Gardens I saw maybe a 10- to 12-year-old kid on a scooter up there.”
Castiglia expressed concerns regarding regulation of the scooters, adding that it would be difficult for the Fulton Police Department to take on the regulation on top of the duties that they already have. Castiglia also questioned the cost of regulating the scooters.
“The big question is, will we receive enough revenue to cover the costs of regulating the scooters?” Castiglia said. “It’s nice to have things, but when you have to regulate it, we have to look at how much it’s going to cost to do the regulating. I think that we’re either not going to regulate them, which then there’s no cost, or if we have to regulate them, it’s going to cost us a lot more.”
Matthew Fragale, owner of Port City Scooters, a third-party vendor partnered with Bird Rides Inc., spoke about the scooters. He said that Bird scooters go a maximum of 15 miles per hour and are tracked by GPS in order to prevent theft. Bird users must also download an app to ride the scooters, where they are required to take a picture of their driver’s license, keep a credit card on file and acknowledge that they are at least 18 years of age.
Fragale currently manages the Bird scooters in Oswego and said that he has three shifts of employees going to pick up scooters around the city.
“We just did a deal with Oswego State,” Fragale said. “We’re bringing electric bikes to campus … so we will be close to 300 vehicles in Oswego now. I know almost every officer in Oswego. They have minor incidents but for the most part they don’t have to deal with the day to day. … If there’s an issue, there’s actually reporting that the municipality can do in the app themselves to report anything to us that they don’t like. It’s called 311. That notifies me directly, and in partnership with Bird, we have a two-hour timeframe to fix that 311 call to satisfaction.”
According to the memorandum, the scooters are to be ridden on streets, with riders staying to the right of street lanes, and in bike lanes and bike paths when available. The scooters will be available to rent from 4 a.m. to midnight, and the company will provide users with safety education regarding the city’s rules and regulations, safe and courteous riding and proper parking.
The council approved other agenda items such as authorizing the clerk/chamberlain to advertise for bids for the Route 481 paving project and to advertise for a public hearing on a proposed new local law entitled “Retail Smoke, Vape and Alcohol Sales and Moratorium.” The public hearing will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 6, following the public comment period of the common council meeting.
Michaels also provided an update on the slow-burning silo fire at the Attis Biofuels plant in Volney.
“According to the DEC and their updates, there is no area for concern at this point,” Michaels said. “All of the air monitoring is coming back under any areas of concern. … All three of the reports I have received, the DEC has reported that there’s no air quality concerns at this point.”
Michaels also spoke about the news of a major chip manufacturing company potentially setting up in Clay in the near future.
“We see Fulton as real potential for opportunity at that site, especially with all the ancillary services that are needed to support that,” Michaels said. “So hopefully as we sit in front of these economic development teams and we start talking to developers, they see Fulton as an opportunity right there to support that semiconductor project and we can see some development on that site. ... We’ll see what happens with that chip (fabrication plant), but hopefully Fulton is a player in all of that and we’ll do all we can to make sure that we are.”
The next regularly scheduled common council meeting will be on Tuesday, Sept. 6 at 7p.m. in the community room of the municipal building, located at 141 S. 1st St.