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September 25, 2018

Oswego Residents Weigh In On How To Use DRI Funds


OSWEGO, NY – The Port City is looking for the best possible ways to spend $10 million in Downtown Revitalization Initiative money.

Participants at Thursday's meeting were given maps of downtown to mark off some of their favorites places as well as locations that could be helped by DRI funding.

Participants at Thursday’s meeting were given maps of downtown to mark off some of their favorites places as well as locations that could be helped by DRI funding.

Increased safety, better access to the waterfront, sidewalk improvements, better promotion of the historic districts, preserve and increase downtown parking, stimulate residential development and many other ideas were proposed Thursday night.

In early July, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that Oswego was selected as the winner of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative in Central New York.

The DRI marks a comprehensive plan to transform local neighborhoods into vibrant communities where the next generation of New Yorkers will want to live and work, the Governor said.

Councilor John Gosek, right, prepares to mark an area of concern on his downtown map. Looking on is council vice president Robert Corradino.

Councilor John Gosek, right, prepares to mark an area of concern on his downtown map. Looking on is council vice president Robert Corradino.

To that end, nearly 100 Port City residents gathered at the McCrobie Building Thursday night to lay the foundation for how that money might be put to use as well as it leveraging other funding and services.

Mayor Billy Barlow welcomed the crowd and thanked them for helping plan the city’s future.

“It’s an extraordinary for the city of Oswego. We owe a sincere thank you to Gov. Cuomo, our state representatives and the team at City Hall,” he said.

“We’re here tonight because we need to hear from you. Your feedback tonight will have significant influence over the proposal that will ultimately go to our local planning team,” he continued.

Hopefully, the city can move forward with the plan early next year, he added.

That $10 million will leverage other state and federal funds, according to Steve Kearney, associate/senior planner for Stantec Urban Places Group, who will assist Oswego officials to design the plan.

They will follow up on this meeting in January, identifying the projects and funding opportunities, he explained. Then they’ll develop the implementation strategy.

The next public meeting will be on Jan. 3, 2017.

Chena Tucker points out an area she believes would make a good family health park.

Chena Tucker points out an area she believes would make a good family health park.

“Then, in February, you’ll have a revitalization plan,” he said. “We’re going to be busy.”

The goal is to make Oswego “an exciting four season destination to shop, live, work and play.”

The city has a lot going for it; but there are some areas that should be addressed, Kearney pointed out.

Its relationship with the college is a growth opportunity, he said. But, downtown’s disconnect from the waterfront is an issue, he added.

Between 2010 and 2030 they will be more Millennials than Baby Boomers; the middle and upper class are choosing to live in downtown areas, he pointed out. Oswego has already moved in that direction but will need to do more in the years to come, he said.

“There are a lot of things Oswego could do to get a lot of bang for its buck; things that could be down relatively inexpensively,” said Doren Norfleet, a former city attorney. “That way, they could save money for the bigger projects.

Chena Tucker, associate director of SUNY Oswego’s Office of Business and Community Relations, envisions a small family park near Fort Ontario, near the Little League fields.

“It would be a place where you combine fitness and family activities,” she said.

There would be a walking trail around it and you could put a playground in the center, she said.

Ellen B. Clark, chairperson of the City of Oswego Promotion & Tourism Advisory Board, describes what areas her group earmarked to potentially receive improvement through the DRI funds.

Ellen B. Clark, chairperson of the City of Oswego Promotion & Tourism Advisory Board, describes what areas her group earmarked to potentially receive improvement through the DRI funds.

“It could also be an inter-generational thing,” Norfleet added. “I’m a grandparent. I could take my grandkids there and I could get my exercise, too. In the winter, if you prepped it the right way, you could snowshoe around it.”

It might even be possible to create an area to ice skate, Tucker said.

“We value the public’s input and feedback,” Mayor Barlow said. “It will be significant as we move forward to develop plans for use of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative funding.”

With assets that include a scenic waterfront location, compact and walkable downtown, rich cultural history and anchor institutions such as SUNY Oswego, Oswego Health and the Port of Oswego Authority, Oswego is well-positioned for a transformation into a regionally competitive area while maintaining its small town charm.

Under the DRI, Oswego will focus on catalytic projects in the downtown that will leverage significant private investment and provide new housing opportunities, mixed-use development, a business incubator, commercial/retail development and community services.

8 Responses “Oswego Residents Weigh In On How To Use DRI Funds”

  1. Robert
    December 2, 2016 at 7:06 am

    How about this??…since it’s being blatantly ignored as of late let’s use some of that money to get the water/sewer rates back down to a more humane level! The recent payment on it destroyed my ability to cover everyone’s gifts this Christmas so how about it?….looks like everyone’s just going to continue to lie-down & take this…not me much longer! I’m speaking with my feet & getting out of here ASAP!

  2. Joe
    December 2, 2016 at 8:07 am

    How about getting the street light turned back on???

  3. Mike
    December 2, 2016 at 8:27 am

    How about getting the traffic lights ‘in sync’ on Bridge Street so it doesn’t take 15 minutes to go two miles from the Forks to the Plaza at 3:30 in the afternoon. A downtown parking garage would be nice, with more people living downtown there is less parking for paying customers.

  4. John
    December 2, 2016 at 10:55 am

    How about you show up for the meetings and put give your input!!

  5. JMZ
    December 2, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    Spend the money on something that will bring in long term repeat business/ revenue to offset some of the burdens for residents i.e. taxes and water rates. Beautification projects bring no return on investment. Although it enhances an image…it’s not taking care of the real problems. 10 million is not a lot in today’s municipal terms. Don’t squander it by trying to appease a bunch of different needs and wants in the city. In fact if need be take as much time as possible to make sure the right decision or decisions are made. I’ve always been a fan of an amphitheater out door venue for seasonal concerts and acts. It can be leased to promoters and other business entities that want to utilize for various things. It can include a family area for barbecuing and picnics with mini water slabs for kids. Batting cages, go cart track ect. The hardest part will be finding the spot for it…and that should be somewhere along the Lake.

  6. Tax payer
    December 2, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    JMZ has a good idea. You should go to the next meeting and present your idea. One thing i have heard from several vendors from Harbor fest and various city craft shows ect… is that the city charges to much money for them to rent space. Every vendor said they would not be able to come back or very likely would not come back the next year. Maybe if the vendors are charged less to rent a space, they would not have to charge customers so much.Also, Oswego is a big place, why does it seem all the money is always directed to Down Town. Keep the residents happy so we don’t feel like we want flee.If this money is not spent correctly, the College will become self sufficient ,very easily, and there will be nothing but bars, pizza shops, pawn shops and head shops. Think before you spend, please.

  7. not enoughparking
    December 3, 2016 at 6:48 pm

    how about using the free money to buy up and rip down some of the junk properties in the neighborhoods. then take those vacant lots and pave them and use them for municipal parking lots..that way residents have a place to park vehicles 4 months of the year while the parkingban is in effect..

  8. xyz
    December 4, 2016 at 8:47 am

    Not enoughparking, that’s a great idea! I’m a retired firefighter that suggested that very idea to the City Codes department. Every house that is declared unsafe and is then razed, provides an opportunity for safe off street parking in congested neighborhoods. While some would say that by constructing parking lots you are removing valuable property tax from the city coffers. I suggest that you would increase the surrounding property values by providing much needed parking to residential neighborhoods with minimal parking opportunities for second vehicles. I also believe that the parking opportunities should only be available for owned occupied dwellings. Not rental properties! A permit system would generate income for the city through fees paid to park in the provided lots. On a final note, housing safety would be improved by removing a dangerous fuel load(old housing)and increasing space between dwellings.

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