OSWEGO, NY – It had all the elements of a perfect birthday party. There was a large crowd of friends, a rousing rendition of the Birthday Song, cake and other refreshments.
However, Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow hit the pause button on his birthday celebration on Tuesday to fete the Oswego West Pierhead Lighthouse instead.
The Oswego Yacht Club building was jam-packed by city, county and state officials, historians, lighthouse committee volunteers and dozens more who just wanted to celebrate the on-going preservations efforts at the Oswego landmark.
“We are honored and privileged to work on this lighthouse on behalf of our community and our region,” said H. Lee White Maritime Director Mercedes Niess.
The lighthouse is iconic and a very special piece of the Port City’s history, the mayor agreed.
“The lighthouse is the gateway to our community from Lake Ontario and is very symbolic,” the mayor said. “I’m proud to work with our Assemblyman and the lighthouse volunteers to restore it to good condition and showcase it properly.”
He thanked Niess for taking a leadership role in the restoration project. He also recognized the Lighthouse Committee and all the volunteers who have donated their time and effort over the past few years.
The city began working on the lighthouse in 2013; in 2014, the city officially leased the lighthouse to the Maritime Museum.
“In those two years they’d done enough work to begin in 2016 to begin offering boat rides and public tours of the lighthouse,” Barlow said. “If you saw the lighthouse in 2014, you would know that that really is an incredible amount of work and quire an achievement that the volunteers on their own time and with funds they raised on their own – it’s quite an accomplishment.”
The momentum picked up when Assemblyman Barclay stepped in, the mayor pointed out. He witnessed first-hand the work that was being dome “and was inspired,” Barlow added. Eventually, the Assemblyman secured $100,000 for the project.
“That just goes to show how in tune and sensitive he is to local issues,” the mayor said. “It is so valuable and important to have a state representative who is listening to our volunteers, listening to our community and dong what he can to help us out on projects like this.”
In 2016, the city stepped up and won $1.1 million in grant funding. Of that, $75,000 was earmarked for the lighthouse project.
A couple months ago, the city allocated an additional $50,000 Barlow continued.
Funds were used for structural improvements, an exterior paint job, seal and paint the roof as well as other work, he said.
“It’s great to be here and see such a great turnout,” Barclay told the large crowd.
When he looks at projects, he always looks to see what type of leadership there is and what type of volunteers there are, Barclay said.
“There’s a lot of energy here in Oswego, no doubt. Things are changing and people’s attitudes are upbeat. I’ve seen it time and time again with different projects,” Barclay said. “I think there’s a reason for all this success. All this takes leadership; it won’t happen unless you have leadership. You guys are blessed to have a great mayor, Mayor Billy Barlow, to provide that leadership. And it’s his team, also. All of you are doing a great job.”
“I really hope we can preserve the lighthouse, keep up the good work,” Barlow said.
On a lighter note, the Assemblyman reminded everyone that Barlow was the youngest mayor in the state.
“But he’s moved up a little bit – today is his birthday! Happy 18th, Billy,” he quipped.