Oswego Eyes Major Improvements At Fitzhugh Park

Repairs will soon be under way to the playground equipment at Fitzhugh Park.

Repairs will soon be under way to the playground equipment at Fitzhugh Park.

OSWEGO, NY – Fitzhugh Park’s playground may be getting a multi-million dollar facelift.

At Monday night’s meeting of the Administrative Services Committee, Amy Birdsall, planning and zoning director, said she had received correspondence from Lisa Glidden, requesting council support for a grant submission to the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

The amount being applied for is the maximum amount of $500,000 the required match is $166,666 of which all will be accounted for with in-kind services and volunteer time, she said.

There will be no cash match requested of the city of Oswego.

Glidden told the committee the grant would provide funding to “reinvigorate” the playground into a modern, accessible park that will provide additional equipment designed for all ages, a renovated sports court, an outdoor classroom, landscaping and a redesigned student drop-off zone along East Bridge Street.

The deadline for the grant application is July 31.

The SUNY Research Foundation, which administers grants for the Oswego Renaissance Association, will manage the administration of the grant and will front the initial costs, as this is a reimbursement grant, she told the councilors.

About a year ago, the playground at Fitzhugh was closed, for several weeks, due to unsafe conditions.

The teachers at the school approached Glidden with a “wish list” of what they’d like to see at the park.

“It matched a lot of what I think us in the community would like to see in that park, which is – more,” she said.

They got together and did a redesign of the park that would benefit all ages.

There are four parts to the project, Glidden explained.

One is resurfacing the basketball courts into a multi-sports court and a defining of a field for kickball and other field games.

Second is an outdoor classroom space near the big oak treet between the basketball courts and current playground and putting in a lot of interpretation of the trees so that the space can also be used for science lessons.

The third part is the playground – park expansion. Much of the equipment can be used for physical and occupational therapy as well as playtime.

The fourth part includes the parking and drop-off space expansion along East Bridge Street.

“Part of my hours and summer salary at the college will go toward the match expense. All the DPW’s time and labor for the work would also be counted,” she said. “And, finally, volunteer time, also. Basically, it’s $27 an hour is what the state puts on volunteer work. I think we can easily do 2,000 hours (probably many more) over the course of the two years we have to complete this grant.”

Councilor Shawn Walker asked if the new park would be handicap accessible.

“Yes. Right now it meets the spirit of the ADA Law. Most of the new pieces at the new park would be handicap accessible,” Glidden said.

Also, whereas the overall plan for the park would eliminate some of the grass, the DPW would have less to maintain, she added.

They also have several fundraisers planned to help offset the city’s costs. If the funds aren’t needed, they will be put into an account the city can use in the future for park maintenance, she pointed out.

“We’re trying to make this as low stress for everyone as possible,” she said.

The committee sent the request to the full council for consideration.