Decisions impacting driving on Dietz discussed

Apr. 23—When the Oneonta Common Council discussed closing Dietz Street between Wall and Main streets most days during the summer months, it did not go unnoticed that vehicles traveling south on Dietz Street that did not turn off at Walnut Street or before would be redirected onto Wall Street and forced to turn right onto Chestnut Street.

On Monday, April 22, the council's Quality of Life and Infrastructure Committee reviewed an intersection sight distance analysis for Chestnut and Wall streets, including left-hand turns, conducted by the city.

Harrington said he remembered before the right-only turn was implemented, there were many collisions at that intersection due to vehicles making left-hand turns.

"It's still rough to make a right-hand turn coming out of there," he said. "I would be against a change in there."

Mattice said that since January 2020, there have been four collisions at the intersection, and all have been since 2022, according to police department data.

Two were rear-end collisions involving vehicles turning left from Chestnut Street onto Wall Street and two involving vehicles turning right from Wall Street onto Chestnut Street.

Mathisen said that it's difficult to make the right-hand turn onto Chestnut Street due to the cars parked along the street that obstruct the driver's line of sight.

"I think making a left-hand turn would be dangerous, especially if the parking is still there," he said. "I would recommend no changes at all — no left-hand turn and leave the parking there."

Walsh Russo echoed Mathisen's comments.

"It does seem like a risk," she said. "I would be apprehensive myself turning left."

The committee also decided to recommend to the full council that the two parking spots on Dietz Street located southbound just before intersection with Main Street be turned into 15-minute spots.

The committee opened discussion on whether the city should install security cameras in the Dietz Street Lofts parking lot.

The 65-apartments of affordable housing have gained a reputation for drug use and crime, which is not entirely back up by police data or by Kearney Realty Group site management.

Mathisen said that he has seen that sort of activity in the past, but not recently. He suggested that the city should contact the landlord to inquire about plans to put up cameras, or pursue another low-cost deterrent like parking a police car in the area.

"I don't think it's a good idea to spend a whole lot of money putting up a camera system at this point," he said. "It might be in the future, but right now I think it would be an unnecessary expense."

He added that he believes the problems that existed before have "largely disappeared."

"I go through there every day to check at different times of the day, I live right down the street ... i don't think it's a serious a problem," he said. The Lofts are located in his ward.

Harrington asked about the cost, and Mattice said that when the city looked into putting cameras in Neahwa Park, the cost estimate for placing five cameras in three locations was about $40,000.

"I know the police department has had more of a presence there," Mattice said. "They've walked through the building periodically over the last month or so or longer. I don't believe they've been stationing a police car in the parking lot ... but they have had an increased presence there since there have been concerns expressed about the building."

Harrington said he would like to hear from the police department before making any decisions on cameras, and Walsh Russo said she wants more information on the need for surveillance at Lofts.

"I was under the impression that there was" a need for surveillance, she said, "but if Don's informal information is correct, maybe there is less of a need for surveillance there."

The discussion was tabled to the next meeting.