Category Archives: Other News

City takes action to prevent another Nestle cleanup situation

By Colin Hogan

Fulton adopted a new policy last week that officials say will help prevent the city from getting stuck with the cleanup bill after a building gets demolished.

The Common Council approved an amendment to the city’s “Demolition” law last week that requires anyone seeking a permit to demolish a structure to provide the city with a performance bond, provided the project is expected to cost $35,000 or more.

“There’s a lot we have to do before we issue a demolition permit,” Mayor Ron Woodward Sr. said, citing things like requiring property owners to have the building’s gas and electric service shut off and having asbestos surveys conducted. “But the one thing we didn’t put in there initially is a guarantee that when they do the demolition, they have to clean up afterwards.”

According to the amendment, the bond must be equal to the project’s estimated cost, which must include the removal and disposal of any hazardous substances and any other work needed to achieve the minimum site restoration as determined by the city.

“What this does is protect the taxpayers from having to cover those costs (for cleanup following a building’s demolition),” Woodward said.

Woodward said the new law is intended, specifically, to help prevent another situation like the city’s current struggle with the former Nestle Co. facilities, the cleanup of which has been estimated to cost more than $250,000.

“If it’s a small building they’re going to demolish, it’s easy. But if you get a property the size of Nestle, you can run into a lot of problems, as we’ve seen,” Woodward said. “We want to make sure that, when that happens again, we can force them to do what they should be doing.”

Once the cleanup of the Nestle site is complete, the city plans to divide the complex into several different parcels to be sold off. Woodward said he has met with “several” parties interested in portions of the property, but isn’t yet at liberty to disclose who they are.

Fulton allocates $49K for Phillips Street bridge replacement

By Matthew Reitz

Plans to replace the Phillips Street Bridge over Tannery Creek in Fulton are moving forward after city officials authorized funding for the project last week.

City Clerk/Chamberlain Dan O’Brien said the city was “just buttoning up the last few documents that need to be done.”

“The environmental assessment is complete, and permits are in place,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien said the project is still awaiting approval from New York state, and once approved, the city will put the project out for bid. The project is expected to take about three months once it starts, and the city is hoping to break ground in June.

Officials say the bridge is beyond repair and will need to be replaced entirely.  Once the project begins, residents can expect to see that portion of Phillips Street closed until the replacement is complete.

The project will require a 5 percent local contribution, while 80 percent will come from federal funds and 15 percent will be covered by the state’s Marchiselli program.

Last week, the Common Council appropriated $49,150 to cover the local contribution.

According to New York State Highway Bridge Data, the bridge was last replaced in 1978 and has been ruled structurally deficient by the state.

New York state gives condition ratings on bridges, with anything below 5.0 being deemed deficient.  The Phillips Street Bridge received a 3.49 rating during the last inspection in June 2014.

Josh Batstone to give concert in Fulton

By Matthew Reitz

Josh Batstone had a short-lived experience on NBC’s “The Voice,” but plans to build on that moment of national exposure to develop a career in the music industry.

“I want to be a musician for the rest of my life,” Batstone said. “I want to make people smile with what I can do with my guitar and my voice.”

Batstone believes the experience on “The Voice” was the “foot in the door” he needed to get a career in music off the ground.

He says the experience showed him how to be more professional in his approach to music and gave him his first impressions of the music industry. Batstone said working with celebrity singer and vocal coach Adam Levine was “incredible” and he was “ridiculously grateful” for the opportunity.

While he didn’t get to stay in the competition as long as he would have liked, it’s hard for Batstone to find a downside to the endeavor. Getting some first-hand experience in the competitive world of pop music, making contacts in the industry, and reaching a wider audience were more than enough to satisfy him.

“I have big dreams and big goals, but all I really want to do is make people happy with music,” Batstone said.

He said performing for a national television audience wasn’t as stressful as one might think, noting that it was something he “didn’t really think about.”

Looking back, Batstone said getting on the show in the first place might be his favorite memory, but he also “made some great lifelong friends” in the process.

Since his time on the show, Batstone has kept himself busy by working diligently to hone his skills and release new material for his fans. The 18-year-old musician has published a series of original videos on his YouTube Channel recently and plans to continue doing so.

In a few months, Batstone plans to move to New York and further pursue his dreams of making a living as a musician. He said wants to be in a place surrounded by other musicians to collaborate with and help develop his skills.

“I plan to be bouncing around places like Nashville, New York and Los Angeles the rest of my life,” Batstone said.

In the meantime, though, Batstone will continue sharing his gift here in Fulton. On May 1, he will be holding a public concert at the Fulton War Memorial.

“I want everyone to come and everyone to have a good time,” Batstone said.

The concert will be at 8 p.m. on May 1. Tickets are available at Mimi’s diner and B&G Sports. For more information, visit the Josh Batstone (Entertainer) Facebook page.

Robert “Red” Bowers

Robert Bowers, 84, of Fulton passed away Wednesday, April 8 at home surrounded by his family. Born in Philo, Ohio, Bob had lived in the Fulton area since age 15. He worked for Armstrong as a machine operator for 40 years and served in the 82nd Airborne from 1949-1952. Robert enjoyed camping, NASCAR, watching wrestling and, most importantly, spending time with his grandchildren. Bob was predeceased by his parents and six of his siblings. Robert will be greatly missed and forever loved by his wife of 60 years, the former Jo Ann Salsbury; children, Robert G. (Donna), Thomas F. (Lisa), Michael D. (Michele), Douglas C. (Debra) and James R. (Millie); 12 grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; sister Thelma Slonaker and several nieces and nephews. A celebration of life will be held at a later date. If friends should desire, donations can be made in Bob’s memory to Friends of Oswego County Hospice, Inc., P.O. Box 102, Oswego, N.Y. 13126. Foster Funeral Home, Fulton has care of arrangements.

City OKs tax agreement for Pathfinder Courts

By Colin Hogan

The estimated $24 million upgrade to the Pathfinder Courts apartment facilities cleared one of its hurdles this week after the Common Council signed off on a 40-year Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement.
The agreement allows the low-income housing facilities to continue operate without a tax obligation to the city, despite their change from public housing to a privatized non-profit model.
The Pathfinder Courts apartments, which currently include 60 low-income family units and a 50-unit senior housing complex, were established as state-sponsored public housing in the late 1960s and early ’70s under the Fulton Housing Authority. However, as state funding for local housing authorities has diminished over the years, leaving only the rental revenues to sustain the properties, FHA has struggled to make capital improvements to the aging facilities.
As FHA now approaches the end of those buildings’ 50-year mortgages, it will turn over them over to a new not-for-profit entity — Emery Street Housing Development Fund Company, consisting of the same staff and administration who currently run the facilities — which will be investing millions of dollars to upgrade the sites and continue to run them under a low-income housing model.
As public housing, the Pathfinder Courts buildings had always been tax exempt. Under the new model, they will continue to operate without a local tax obligation through the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreed to by the Common Council Tuesday evening.
“This PILOT reflects a situation that’s almost identical to what they had (as public housing),” said Mayor Ron Woodward Sr. “It won’t make things any different on the city’s end, except now we have less risk in things.”
With Pathfinder Courts privatizing to a non-profit model, the City of Fulton will no longer be obligated to make it whole if it can’t meet its financial obligations. As a public housing facility, the city was required to do so. For Woodward, this change comes as a big relief.
He explained: “For example, let’s say that were to run up a huge heat bill and couldn’t pay it, we (the city) would have had to settle that debt. Or if they had to make major repairs to a building but couldn’t cover the cost, we would have had to cover that for them.”
As the transition continues to move forward, officials are planning major upgrades to the buildings to the tune of $16 million. Those include new facades, repairing hazardous sidewalks, fixing drainage issues, providing outdoor lighting that meets safety guidelines, a new security system, upgraded fire alarm systems, better electrical service to buildings, new roofs and siding, better insulation, updated kitchen and bathrooms, and new furnaces and water heaters. The project will also do away with any asbestos-based materials within the facilities.
Initial plans that were previously reported in the The Valley News included upgrades to the buildings’ carpeting and a possible new playground. However, those items have since been removed from the scope of work of this project, officials said.
“We’re basically going to make them like new housing — as new as new can be when working with an existing footprint,” said Bruce Levine of 3d Development Group, a Buffalo-based development firm that is coordinating the endeavor.
When adding in the cost of relocating residents for the construction period, asbestos removal, legal and bank fees, and other miscellaneous costs, officials estimated about $24 million would be spent on the endeavor. However, officials said Pathfinder Courts will probably only end up borrowing about $1.5 million of that. The rest of the funds will be pooled together from several state and federal resources, Levine said.
Officials say they are hoping to have the finances worked out by the beginning of May. Residents in buildings that are to be worked on would then be relocated to other apartments on the campus during construction. In all, Levine estimated a construction period of 24-28 months.

Building at East Broadway and First torn down

Pictured is here is the building when it housed the Little & Baker Groceries store, as viewed from Broadway. Photo courtesy of Marion Stanton
Pictured is here is the building when it housed the Little & Baker Groceries store, as viewed from Broadway.
Photo courtesy of Marion Stanton
The building on the corner of East Broadway and First Street was torn down by the city Tuesday. Colin Hogan photo
The building on the corner of East Broadway and First Street was torn down by the city Tuesday.
Colin Hogan photo

By Colin Hogan

A building on the corner of East Broadway and First Street was torn down by the city this week — a move officials say will make the foreclosed site more marketable to sell.
Remembered as a former grocery store, restaurant and the original home of Fulton’s Jreck Subs, the one-story building at 215 First St. South, across from the Fulton Post Office, came down Tuesday. The parcel also includes an adjacent two-story building along Broadway that Fulton officials said would be coming down shortly after the first.
The parcel was one of many foreclosed on by the city in January 2014. Mayor Ron Woodward Sr. said the city was unable to salvage the site’s buildings due to neglect in recent years.
Among the many problems city officials found after acquiring the parcel were roof leaks, broken rafters, unsound support beams, a cellar full of water and black mold throughout the building.
“To rehabilitate it would have cost more than to tear it down, and then we’d still be left with a really old building there. The cheapest and smartest thing to do was to eliminate the hazard,” Woodward said.
With its highly visible location, Woodward feels that parcel will be appealing to a prospective buyer with a fresh start.
“There’s no value left in the building, itself. As it is, it’s nothing but a liability,” Woodward said. “But it’s a very high-traffic spot with parking options. I think it will be very marketable when we’re done.”
Marion Stanton, whose family owned the property for decades prior to its most recent owner, agrees.
“It’s a wonderful corner,” Stanton said. “Somebody at some point will put something there that will do really well. We always did very well in that area.”
Members of the Stanton family owned the property from 1918 until it was sold to its most recent owner, Syracuse-based Lobut Development LLC, in August 2005.
Stanton said the site once housed an A&P grocery store, as well as Little & Baker Groceries. In the 1930s, her father had the corner building’s second story removed. Over the years, the plot would end up housing several other notable Fulton businesses, including the Victory Grill, Murphy’s Store and Jreck Subs.


Driver causes brief power outage

By Matthew Reitz
A minor parking lot mishap caused Fulton traffic lights, businesses and homes to go dark around lunchtime on Tuesday.
Around 11:45 a.m. a customer at Jreck Subs on South 2nd Street made contact with a utility pole guy-wire when pulling out of the parking lot in a Chevrolet Equinox.
The mishap caused a power outage in the surrounding area that left about 200 customers without power for about an hour, according to National Grid.
Traffic lights on East Broadway at the corners of South First and South Second streets were not operating, forcing police to direct traffic at some of the city’s busiest intersections during the lunchtime traffic rush.
The wire “got stuck up in the driver-side wheel well,” according to the Fulton Police Department.
A National Grid spokesperson said the accident caused some of the fuses on the pole to trip. The fuses were replaced, and power was restored by 12:40 p.m.
According to police, the customer didn’t realize he had done any damage and was unaware of the power outage at the time of the incident. After freeing his vehicle from the wire himself, the man left the scene unaware of the problem.
Dempsey said the incident was the second time the wire was hit recently, and noted that the guy-wire has since been removed.

City officials looking to boost neighborhood watch participation

By Matthew Reitz
Fulton Common Council President Larry Macner is hoping to boost participation in the city’s neighborhood watch groups.
Macner says the city’s neighborhood watch programs have proven to be useful over the years, but could serve the community better if more residents got more involved.
“It would be a better program if more people showed up (for the meetings),” Macner said.
The main function of neighborhood watch programs is to reduce crime by using basic prevention techniques and reporting suspicious activity to the police. Tips from residents often help police respond to crimes, and statistics show  increased attention from residents can help prevent crimes from happening in the first place.
“I’d just like to see more awareness so that people know what is going on in the neighborhood,” Macner said.
A 2008 study by the U.S. Department of Justice found that in the majority of cases, neighborhood watch programs were “associated with a reduction in crime” and “appeared to be effective.”
The concept of a neighborhood watch is nothing new. Their roots can be traced back to the colonial era, when local militias and night watchmen kept watch over their communities in the absence of municipal police forces. Neighborhood watches as we know them today were established in the 1970s in response to law enforcement efforts to involve citizens and address rising crime rates.
The Fulton Police Department encourages local participation in the programs, too. Deputy Chief Thomas Abelgore said neighborhood watch programs give police “an extra set of eyes and ears,” and added that a dedicated group of people in a neighborhood allows police “to have a presence without actually being there.”
“We can’t be everywhere,” Abelgore stated.
The department welcomes the opportunity to talk with residents and share useful information. Abelgore said the department would like to see residents take ownership of their communities, and noted that the city has a tip line, 593-TIPS, that residents can call 24 hours a day to leave anonymous tips.
Macner believes the economy has played a role in driving up the crime rate, but noted Fulton residents can still do their part by participating in neighborhood watch programs to keep their streets safe. Areas with higher crime rates need increased attention, and Macner suggested residents could request increased patrols in certain areas.
Meetings for the Sixth Ward Neighborhood Watch take place on Monday nights at 7 p.m. and typically last for about an hour according to Macner. The meetings are held in the auditorium at the Fulton Education Center on South Fourth Street. The schedule for the Sixth Ward meetings is listed through June 2015 on the city’s website.
Daniel Knopp, Councilor for the Second Ward, also encourages all interested residents to attend meetings for the neighborhood watch. Second Ward Neighborhood Watch meetings take place on the second Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m. in the Fulton War Memorial Cafeteria.