OSWEGO, NY Ã¢â‚¬â€œ In about 12 minutes Monday night Oswego Mayor Randy Bateman highlighted the accomplishments of the last 12 months Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and looked forward to the challenges of the next 12.
Oswego faced a challenging year in 2009, the mayor said in his State of the City Address.
“Even though the economy did improve somewhat last year, it has not yet fully recovered. Despite these economic conditions, many accomplishments were achieved and more will follow this year in 2010,” he said. “Make no mistake though, the coming year will present many unique challenges to our city.”
A major challenge facing the Port City this year and future years will be the Consent Decree and the generation of a Long Term Control Plan, Bateman said.
This plan will outline the necessary repairs that need to be made to the Westside Sewer System.
“This has been a long process of negotiations with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation to determine what the Consent Decree will involve,” the mayor explained.
When the city was notified of the inquiry into its discharges to the Oswego River, city officials basically had two options concerning the Consent Decree, according to the mayor.
“We could deny the allegations and be sued in Federal Court or we could negotiate a settlement with U.S. and NYS agencies. We chose to negotiate in order to achieve the most favorable arrangement for the city,” he said. “If we chose to go to court, we would have lost, incurred large legal bills and fines, then still be made to complete the needed work to remedy the problems. While nobody likes being forced to spend large amounts of money, I believe that we made the correct decision in negotiating the best deal for our taxpayers.”
The details of the Consent Decree will be made public as soon as the state and federal agencies sign the document.
Among the highlights of the past year was the city taking ownership of the West Pierhead Lighthouse, the Recreation Committee and a revitalized Campus-City Relations Committee, Bateman pointed out.
The city has received a grant and will seek further grant funding to renovate the historic lighthouse, Bateman added.
Another bright spot is the Utica Street Bridge Project.
Pre-construction work is already under way.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The ugly, rusty steel sidewalls will be replaced by a see-through system using four horizontal rails with one-inch vertical spindles,Ã¢â‚¬Â the mayor said.
The project is expected to be finished in August 2011.
The major portion of Oswego’s revenue is derived from its sales and use tax, even surpassing property tax revenues.
Those figures have been lower lately, prompting the mayor to urge everyone to shop local.
“The city collects 4 cents on every dollar spent on taxable items within the city limits and people are spending less. We encourage everyone to ‘Shop Oswego First’ to try and find your item from a local merchant,” Bateman said. “Even purchasing your gasoline from a gas station within the city can make a difference.”
The city is reaping the benefits of going green, the mayor noted. Part of the savings is due to the Small Business Services Program sponsored by National Grid.
“We are ready to face the challenging year ahead. Just as our community has united to rally against the closure of Fort Ontario, we will unite once again to face the challenges of 2010 together,” the mayor concluded.