OSWEGO, NY – At its meeting Monday night, the Common Council authorized the Planning and Zoning Director to submit a grant application to develop a master plan of the Fort Ontario Complex.
The Fort Ontario Park complex is a large recreational area in the city of Oswego, according to Paul Lear, historic site manager of Fort Ontario.
“It hasn’t seen any significant improvements since the 1960s,” he told the council.
He cited problems with the roadways, public restrooms and other infrastructure.
“We have an opportunity to take advantage of grants and programs to address infrastructure needs – current needs and future needs in terms of developing this district in ways to improve the quality of life of city residents and at the same time attract non-residents to the district,” he said.
The efforts to raise Fort Ontario and Safe Haven to national park status may take years to accomplish, he noted.
Meanwhile, he said the city should take the initiative to hire a consultant get the ball rolling on a master plan for the fort. It would show the National Park Service and the world that Oswego is committed to “the jewel of our city,” he added.
The complex currently is home to historical, sports and other recreational activities.
He’d like to see the area made more accessible to people coming from the linear park and marina areas.
The roads need to be redone and made safer, he said. Parking issues also need to be addressed.
There should be walking and bicycle paths around the park and they should be connected to the linear park, he said.
“And, because of the great history to the city, there should be interpretive signage,” he said.
Mary Kay Stone echoed Lear’s sentiments.
She is a volunteer at the fort and is also on the board.
“I kind of took Fort Ontario for granted. It’s always been there. We grew up with it,” she said.
However, it was eye-opening to volunteer there.
People from all over the United States come there, she said, adding that they find it “amazing and unique.”
“I just want to make sure we’re putting our best foot forward,” she told the council.
Jeff Grimshaw, chair of the Fort Ontario National Landmark Committee, also urged the council to support creating a master plan.
He said he wants to show the nation when they arrive here, “because I’m very confident that they will in fact arrive here,” that Oswego really cares about Fort Ontario and Safe Haven.
The city will hire Fisher Associates to prepare an application through the Consolidated Funding Application process for $100,000.
The funds, if secured, will be used for the development of a master plan of the Fort Ontario Complex in support of Congressman John Katko’s effort to elevate Fort Ontario and the Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Shelter Museum into the National Park System.
As a national park, supporters say the complex would generate greater tourism and increased economic vitality for the Port City as well as the entire region.
The fee to prepare and submit the CFA will be $6,100 and will come out of the 2016 Planning Budget.
Development Plan OK’d
Councilors also unanimously approved the proposal submitted by Housing Visions Consultants for the development of the Flexo Wire site.
Housing Visions proposes to demolish the existing site and construct a five-story nixed use building containing about 40 one-bedroom quality rental units, 11 two-bedroom quality rental units and about 10,000 square feet of retail – commercial space on the north end of the site facing Lake Street.
Along the south and west side of the property, they propose to construct about 18 three-bedroom townhouses facing West Second Street and West Schuyler Street.
The rental unit will target a variety of income ranging from workforce to market rate.
The multi-million dollar project will put the site back on the city’s tax roll. The retail section will help bolster sales tax revenue and the tenants will give a boost to the local businesses.