Oswego lawmakers vote unanimously to ban Bridge Street Run

May 13, 2014

The city of Oswego Common Council voted unanimously Monday night to ban the Bridge Street Run, a decades-old pub crawl that draws hundreds of SUNY Oswego students to downtown Oswego each spring on the last day of classes. 

This year's Bridge Street Run resulted in nearly 30 arrests, with offenses ranging from open container violations and public urination, to fighting and disorderly conduct. Two students were also injured after being hit by a trolley near one bar at the intersection of Route 104 and Washington Boulevard. Three students also overdosed on heroin, one of whom died, although the overdoses are not being directly linked to the Bridge Street Run. 

Councilor Michael Todd says he's seen enough. At last night's Common Council meeting, Todd introduced two resolutions. The first bans the Bridge Street Run. Todd says in the last few years, the event has become a bigger problem for the city, mainly because of the number of students who attend and the safety issues it creates.

"This is a public safety thing," Todd said. "It's just a matter of time before one of our officers or one of our fire department people is hurt. For two years, since I've been on the council, I've tried to engage the mayor and tried to engage the council and to come up with a solution before we got to this point. And nobody's wanted to make that action. So now, we're going to do it."

Students visits bars and taverns along Oswego's Bridge St. during the annual Bridge Street Run. The event is unsanctioned by SUNY Oswego and is now banned by the city's Common Council.
Students visits bars and taverns along Oswego's Bridge St. during the annual Bridge Street Run. The event is unsanctioned by SUNY Oswego and is now banned by the city's Common Council.
Credit Jason Smith / WRVO

The second resolution allows city lawmakers to create an itemized bill of overtime expenses incurred for police, fire and Department of Public Works services related to Bridge Street Run, and to send that bill to SUNY Oswego, SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher and to the state legislature. Both resolutions passed unanimously.

Todd says he looks forward to meeting with SUNY Oswego officials to find common ground and create some guidelines for future events.

"The college is now willing to sit down and  be engaged with us," Todd said. "I'm looking forward to that, sitting down with them and trying to come up with some rules... We need to reclaim this city, we need to save this city or there won't be anything left. And the real fear is that if we allow it to continue to deteriorate, what will be left is a real safety problem for the students, if there is no one else here and it becomes a run down area."

Oswego Mayor Tom Gillen is also in support of the resolutions, saying the city needs to send a strong message that the Bridge Street Run needs to be controlled better, though he admits that it will be incredibly difficult to fully ban the Bridge Street Run.

"That's going to be the challenge going forward with the police department and all of the police officers that will assist us going forward, because really it's not illegal to go, if you're over the age of 21, it's not illegal to go to a tavern and celebrate your graduation with a drink," Gillen said. "But when we get that many people, dangerous situations arise."