OSWEGO – As a young boy, Billy Barlow would view the vista from Breitbeck Park overlooking Lake Ontario and say, “What if …?”
Tuesday evening, Mayor Billy Barlow gazed out over the same panorama and said, “That’s more like it!”
The mayor hosted a ribbon cutting event officially opening the newly renovated Oswego Harbor Trail along the shoreline of Lake Ontario. He was joined by members of the Common Council, various other city officials and more than five dozen Oswegonians.
The Oswego Harbor Trail is a $225,000 project, transforming the over-grown, underutilized area of public space of Barlow’s youth into a desirable walking and recreational trail on the shoreline of Lake Ontario.
Additionally, a dock was added allowing pedestrians to walk onto Lake Ontario. Two other seating areas along the lakeshore were created to view the Oswego sunsets and sit, relax or fish on the waterfront.
“This is a project that I am extremely proud of,” the mayor told the large crowd.
He thanked everyone who helped make it a reality.
The mayor displayed posters showing what the trail looked like just six months ago and how it currently looks.
In 2016, the city conducted a comprehensive waterfront study.
“We’ve always struggled, I think, as a community to take advantage of our position on the waterfront,” Barlow said. “That was one of my priorities when I took office. One of my campaign promises was to better help Oswego capitalize on its location and its natural assets.”
In July 2016, the city submitted grant applications seeking to fund some waterfront projects. The trail was probably the project at the top of the priority list, the mayor noted.
The project wasn’t born out of the study, he pointed out. The impetus can be traced back to his youth.
His family would take him walking and biking on the trail. And, even then, he couldn’t figure out why the city would let it be so over-grown.
“It just wasn’t an enjoyable walk,” he said. “It didn’t have any waterfront access.”
In December 2016, the city won the grant.
It was a $225,000 total project. Of that, $175,000 was from the state grant. The city committed $51,000 to the project.
“It’s easy as a councilor to count pennies and count nickels; try to find ways to save the city money in order to reduce taxes,” the mayor said. “We’re reducing taxes but we’re also putting money where there is a return on the investment.”
The mayor also cited the DPW and Commissioner Tom Kells for the work they did on the project, adding that it was done “almost 100 percent in-house.”
The mayor quipped that he was “jealous” of Kells who got a nice tan working on the project while the mayor was stuck inside City Hall where the air conditioning wasn’t that great.
“Many communities don’t have a lake or a river. We have both. We’re so lucky,” Council President Robert Corradino said. “The mayor set the tone early on in his administration when he said we need to do better for our parks and our waterfront. We really have stepped up the last couple of years.”
The mayor thanked a lot of people, but there’s one person he forgot, Corradino said.
He cited Mayor Barlow for his leadership.
Corradino recognized the current council as well as the previous council for the part they played making the project a reality.
“This current council is continuing the work of the previous council in supporting the initiatives that the mayor has set out and I’m very proud to be a part of that,” he said.
“This project is a part of a larger vision that I think we all have for the Oswego community,” Mayor Barlow said, adding that for decades, projects like this were only talked about. “Finally, now, we are not just talking about doing nice projects – we’re actually doing these projects. I think this project is something the community should be extremely proud of. And, I thank everyone who had a hand in it.”
Following the ribbon cutting, Michael Place played live music from 6-8 p.m. as people strolled around the newly enhanced trail.