Dunkin’ Donuts proposal tabled by Oswego Planning Board

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A full house turned out Feb. 6 to see what the Oswego Planning Board was going to do with the proposal to put a new Dunkin’ Donuts next to the YMCA in Oswego.

The planning board, after discussing the issue and hearing residents’ comment for nearly two hours, tabled the measure until its March 6 meeting.

Many of the people who spoke were not enamored of the idea for a variety of reasons.

Some don’t like a fast-food shop going up in a historic neighborhood; some are concerned about the busy intersection where the shop would be at West First and Utica streets and other say a Dunkin’ Donuts will ruin the quaintness of Oswego’s downtown and may take business away from other local coffee shops and bakeries.

Robert Abbott, an architect with ESW Realty, which works with Dunkin’ Donuts franchisees, said the proposed store would be 2,300 square feet on a lot that measures a little more than a half acre. It would have a drive-through that would exit onto West First Street and there would be one entrance to the site and two exits.

There will be 23 parking spaces on site. The dumpster will be in back and Dunkin’ Donuts hopes to put in a patio in the back area where people can sit in the summer to enjoy their beverages.

Some at the meeting were not thrilled with the idea of a drive-through for the site, noting it would cause too much traffic congestion. But Abbott told the board that the site has to have a drive-through and without it, there is no project.

“The shop will get 50 percent of its business from the drive-through,” he said.

Abbott said the exterior will be a cement clapboard with the Dunkin’ Donuts colors of beige, orange and brown. “It’s pretty standard Dunkin’ Donuts,” he said.

Board member James Scanlon asked whether a traffic study is going to be done since that is such a busy intersection and in a high-traffic area with the Y next door and Paul’s Big M across the street.

“We don’t generate new traffic,” Abbott said in stating a traffic study is not planned. “Usually 6 to 10 a.m. are our busiest hours.”

Justin Rudgick, board member and the city’s director of community and economic development, had two requests for the project. He wants the facade to be brick instead of clapboard to fit in better with the historic buildings in the area. He used the example of the Dunkin’ Donuts Abbott worked on that now is open on North Salina Street in Syracuse.

“We’re trying to change that whole corridor,” Rudgick said. “We want it to blend in with the downtown historical character.”

City officials have said they consider West First Street and especially that intersection as the gateway to Oswego’s downtown.

Rudgick also wants Dunkin’ Donuts to invest in marked crosswalks at the intersection of West First and Utica streets. “We want to ensure the safety of pedestrians,” he said.

Y President Ed Mervine said the Y is not happy with the project because of the historical area and the off-street parking in the area. Anne Backer, who owns Taste the World, a local coffee shop, said the Dunkin’ Donuts is not needed.

“There are seven other places that provide bagels, doughnuts and coffee in that area,” she said. She said people coming to Dunkin’ Donuts also will be getting their coffee and leaving, not staying downtown.

“We want people to come downtown to experience our downtown,” she said. “We want people to stay downtown. We don’t want them to just grab and go.”

Mercedes Niess, a Heritage Foundation member and director of the H. Lee White Maritime Museum, talked about the history in the area and how Dunkin’ Donuts doesn’t really fit. She also mentioned the $10 million award Oswego received from the state to revitalize its downtown and wonders if a Dunkin’ Donuts fits into the city’s downtown plan.

“We have to be cautious and thoughtful. What is the message we want to send?” she said.

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