But during my return, I've watched a disconnect. People aren't as vested in the town as they once were. It is easy to just blame the economy, but events of the past few weeks point directly to a much deeper problem. It appears that if people volunteer to help the city, they are rewarded by being ignored or kicked in the teeth.
Take those involved in the Farmer's Market. Janelle Goins did what I thought was impossible and raised the funds for the new shelter at Schmoker Park in a month. Many donated but it is because of her amazing work that the shelter was funded. Then, Delmar Born Tregar and his crew came in and volunteered to build the facility. They VOLUNTEERED! They didn't get paid. How much do you suspect those services would have cost?
Their thank you for all their work? The police were sent out to stop all of them as they arrived to set up for the Farmer's Market to insure that, now that their work was completed, they not drive their vehicles on the park property. Something they have been doing since the beginning of the Market. Rather than feeling appreciated for their substantial donation to the community, they were left feeling bullied.
And, then there is the case of Bill Cunningham. After all his hours of work at the park and on the park board - when the park was dedicated, state leaders were invited. Those who's families helped start the park were invited, but to my knowledge, no one who has put sweat equity into making the park the showplace it is today was invited. Not Bill, not the park foundation. I personally donated hour after hour researching the park's history, writing the long long application and working with State representatives to see that the park received a place on the National Historic Registry. I wasn't invited to attend the dedication.
I understand why it is nearly impossible to get good volunteers in Oswego. Most people don't volunteer for some kind of glory, but a thank you would be appreciated. Though, somehow this group has managed to find ways of not only ignoring their valuable volunteer base but to demean them through their bullying or by taking them for granted.
As they say, the slop starts at the top. The city of Oswego has lost touch with its job, it has lost touch with its citizens. Oswego citizens need to watch carefully. Pay attention to what the mayor and city council are doing and make your voices heard. Hopefully, there is still time to turn this town around for the good.