OSWEGO, NY – The north end of East Fourth Street is steeped in history. The area is home to Fort Ontario and the Safe Haven Museum.
On Tuesday afternoon, some new history was added to the mix.
In a brief ceremony, witnessed by nearly two dozen people, Oswego Mayor Tom Gillen officially dedicated the stretch of roadway as Barbara Donahue Drive.
“Today, the city of Oswego would like to recognize Barbara Donahue for her more than 25 years of dedicated service to the city and to officially name this street Barbara Donahue Drive in her honor,” he said. “And, I proclaim today, June the 10th, 2014, as Barbara Donahue Day in the city of Oswego.”
The existing street in Fort Ontario, at the north end of East Fourth Street, near the Art Association parking lot, is important, according to Tony Leotta, “because it connects the two main entrances to the fort – East Fourth and East Seventh streets.”
The dedication is in recognition of Donahue’s decades of service to the Port City.
“Barb has done a great deal of good work for the city Oswego, especially here in the Second Ward,” Leotta said. “This is a well-deserved recognition. She’s a great lady.”
Donahue began working for the city on July 8, 1983, as a laborer in the Department of Public Works; she also served the city as a sign maintenance worker and traffic violations clerk until her retirement on Oct. 6, 1998, the mayor said.
She was elected to the Common Council and served as a representative of the Second Ward for four terms (Jan. 1, 2000, until Dec. 31, 2007).
While waiting for the ceremony to begin, Donahue shared some memories of the area with friends and family members.
The officers’ quarters were here and the enlisted men’s barracks were over there, she pointed out.
“And, down below there is where the refugees were housed,” she said referring to the near 1,000 people who escaped World War II and invited to come to Oswego.
On Aug. 5, 1944, 982 refugees who survived Nazi reign during World War II arrived at Fort Ontario in Oswego. They were allowed into the country as “guests” of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Donahue said she also remembers her father running on the track nearby the barracks.
Current Second Ward Councilor, Mike Myers, had high praise for his predecessor.
“She really did a lot to help out the people of this ward, and all the residents of the city. Barb got the bad curve taken out of Fourth Street right here and straightened it out making it much safer for motorists and pedestrians going to the fort, Art Association are to see a show at the Players’ theater,” he said pointing to the yellow double line street markings (remnants of the large curve) in what is now a parking area.
“I want to thank you for all you’ve done,” the mayor told Donahue. “We appreciate your long-standing dedication and community service.”
Donahue’s service to the city has run the full gamut, Leotta noted. She has gone from laborer to legislator and done a lot in between, he said.
“I want to thank the mayor. And, I want to thank the council,” Donahue said following the ceremony. “This truly is a great honor. There’s a lot of history here. I’m proud, and humbled, to be a part of it.”
“This is an honor. I’ve done a lot for this ward and the area,” she continued. “I really appreciate all the time and effort everyone put in to remember me.”
The honor was well-deserved, the mayor said.
“It’s people like Barb that make our city great,” he said. “Hopefully, more people will get involved in the community and help improve things for everyone.”