Canal Theatrical Proposal Flows Through Committee

OSWEGO, NY – A large part of Oswego’s history will flow this summer.

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Steven York, the event’s producer, answers questions Monday from the councilors.

Fifth Ward Councilor John Gosek is seeking consideration from the Common Council to authorize the use of funds and public space of the city to support and sponsor the theatrical production of the recounting of the building of the Oswego Canal, an historic accounting of one of the earliest public works projects in the United States.

At its meeting Monday night, the Administrative Services Committee gave a favorable recommendation to a retooled version of the request the council vice president made a few months ago.

That request didn’t make it out of committee. It was proposed to be held at the West Linear Park Veterans’ Stage over the course of two consecutive weekends beginning August 4-6 and August 11-13.

“This is a completely retooled, revamped presentation. This is a much better production, a tighter budget, the committee reached out and actually raised funds,” Kevin Caraccioli, city attorney, told the councilors. “We have partnerships now. We have the H. Lee White Marine Museum is going to be a fiduciary agent for any monies that are received (from donations).”

The project has received some funding, but the attorney declined to go into specific details currently.

However, the financial burden on the city is “substantially reduced,” he added.

Rick Sivers is the author of the production.

“It actually focuses more on the Oswego Canal. The stage, so to speak, is being prepared on the derrick boat that’s docked at the museum,” Caraccioli said.

The city’s portion of the project is not to exceed $4,000, he said. The cost for the defunct proposal was about $8,000.

Pathfinder Bank and the Lake City Masonic Lodge have contributed to the new project.

“The budget continually changes. But, in a positive way,” Caraccioli explained. “The more private and public monies that come in for this project – that amount the city has to contribute is reduced. Right now, it’s just shy of $4,000. We don’t anticipate any increase to that amount.”

Councilor Gosek thanked Oswego native Sivers, of the Oswego Players, for taking charge of the production. He also recognized Mercedes Niess of the H. Lee White Maritime Museum and all the supporters to date.

In order to receive funding from state and private sources, they needed to have non-profit status, he said explaining the museum’s role in that regard.

The play will be about 45 minutes long, he noted.

Steven York, the event’s producer, has worked on several other area events.

He said they will focus on the historical aspect of the canal.

“We want the production to be both educational and historical,” he told the committee.

Councilor Robert Corradino asked whether they would continue fundraising efforts to help defray more of the city’s costs.

They are making “considerable strides,” York assured him.

The current proposal is “much more professional and detailed than the previous,” Corradino said.

The original play about the Erie and Oswego canals is tentatively scheduled for mid-August.

Gosek said he’d like to see this event serve as “a pilot program” leading to more funding for future projects highlighting the city’s historical connection to the water.

With the NYS Canal System recently being designated as a National Historic Landmark and the Oswego Canal being counted as part of this historic transportation system, the city of Oswego is a natural setting for a production of this play, he added.

The proposal was unanimously forwarded to the full council for consideration.