OSWEGO, NY Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Closing state parks, such as Fort Ontario, to help reduce the state’s budget deficit is a short-term fix for the state and a long-term headache for communities, some Oswego residents say.
Ironically, the fort is now under attack by the very state that it has defended for more than two centuries.
It was announced Friday afternoon that the historic fort was among several sites around the state that were targeted to be closed or see reduced operation under a proposal by the governor to help close a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall.
Fort Ontario has protected the mouth of the Oswego River since 1755 and now it needs our help, according to Rev. George A. Reed.
Lake City 127 F&AM Reed’s lodge, is a member of the “Friends of Fort Ontario.” He said he’d talk with the membership and muster support for the fort.
“It has played an important role in the history of our country during the French and Indian War, American Revolution, statement of Canada, American Revolution, Civil War, Spanish American War, World War I and II,” said Reed, author of ‘Fort Ontario: Guardian of the North.’ “It has been a major military hospital. It has trained and educated soldiers. Fort Ontario provided a refuge for victims of the Holocaust by providing a Safe Haven for 982 refugees.”
After the Second World War, it provided homes for returning GIs as they rebuilt this country, he said, adding, “It has continued to serve to educate generations of children and adults about our rich history.”
Oswego County, with its nearly 10 percent unemployment, cannot afford to loose the jobs and money generated by Fort Ontario, Reed said.
“I feel that the city and county of Oswego would suffer economic loss that it cannot afford if the fort is closed,” Reed said.
“I am outraged that they would even consider something like this,” said Betty Gray, coordinator of Oswego’s Neighborhood Watch Program. “The fort isn’t ‘just a park.’ It is an historic site and should be preserved, not closed down.”
“Why don’t the lawmakers and unions give back? All they do is take. Closing things like the fort is not the answer to New York’s budget trouble. It is just a short-term fix for them, and a long-time burden on communities,” she continued.
Gray said she couldn’t believe the news when she heard it.
“I have gotten several different emails about this. This is terrible. What is our world coming to?” she said. “People need to be heard. People want to know what is going on; they need to let their elected official know how they feel about this.”
Oswego Mayor Randy Bateman told Oswego County Today on Friday that he will bring the issue up for consideration at Monday’s Common Council meeting.
“It would be a shame if the fort were closed,” he said. “Fort Ontario is an integral part of Oswego and its history.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The county will join the city in approving resolutions in support of the fort and forwarding them to Sen. Darrell Aubertine, Assemblyman Will Barclay and the governor’s office, the mayor noted.