OSWEGO - It’s just what you would expect at the re-opening of the Children’s Museum of Oswego.
A young man, about 2, must have gotten away from his adult and appeared at the door of the room where Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, Mayor William Barlow Jr. and Children’s Museum Director Jillian Shaver were ready to cut the ribbon for the newly refurbished museum the afternoon of July 30.
He took in all the attention he got immediately from the room full of dignitaries and press. Then he rolled a plastic ball to Hochul, who caught it and obligingly rolled it back to the tyke.
And then off he went, ball in hand.
The gathering was celebrating the re-opening of the popular downtown Oswego site following a $300,000 investment from Oswego’s 2016 $10 Million Downtown Revitalization Initiative. The museum used the money for new exhibits and interior improvements to the museum and another $180,000 for improvements to the exterior of the historic Buckhout-Jones building to be completed this fall. Earlier this month, the new exhibits and renovations were completed allowing the museum to re-open.
“The newly renovated Children’s Museum is at the heart of the transformation of downtown Oswego, welcoming both residents and visitors to this unique community,” Hochul said. “Thanks to support from our Downtown Revitalization Initiative, the museum features new interactive exhibits that provide a valuable educational experience and help children and families make memories that will last a lifetime.”
“The Children’s Museum of Oswego is a vital component to our comprehensive downtown revitalization plan,” Barlow said. “The museum provides Oswego families with a recreational activity that is educational and active, while also drawing visitors from our region to downtown Oswego to experience the museum. “The Children’s Museum of Oswego is a great unique asset, complimenting so many other positive developments in our downtown and with all new exhibits and improvements, can further enhance the experience and continue to be a destination for people from all over Central New York,” Barlow said.
The Children’s Museum, founded in 2013 by Jillian and Jonathan Shaver, features hands-on multi-sensory exhibits in a developmentally stimulating environment.
“We were thrilled when the lieutenant governor announced that the children’s museum would receive funds from Oswego’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative Award,” Jillian Shaver said. “It showed that our state leaders and city administration believe in investing in cultural institutions to support the economic, physical and social goals of revitalizing our urban core. It proved that the children’s museum was not going to simply serve as a sideline to economic vitality, but stand at the forefront of positive growth in our city.”
Barlow said to date, 11 of the city’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative projects “are off the ground in one shape or form.” Some of those include the demolition of the old Global Buffet building to make room for mixed-use development, completion of the Pocket Park and Complete Street project and construction at the old Flexo Wire site for a building to become retail and apartments.
But one of the main highlights downtown is the Children’s Museum of Oswego. Barlow said it is not only in a historic building, but it sits at the main intersection in the city — West Bridge and West First.
“It’s a unique asset for all of Central New York,” Barlow said. “At one time, we were not so sure that we believed in ourselves. But now we are getting enthusiastic, we are getting confident.”
Hochul congratulated Oswego for all of its work and said the city has become a model for other cities throughout the state on what can be done to make a city better and keep people from moving away.
“You don’t have to be Manhattan, Buffalo or Syracuse to have a great quality of life for your citizens,” she said. “This place has a state college, a river, a Great Lake and an enlightened citizenry. You have been held out as a model — now the talk is about what lies ahead.”
In 2016, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the creation of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, a program providing a way to improve the physical, social and economic climate of participating communities. The intention is to provide money that can help communities on the cusp of economic revitalization tip over into sustained prosperity.
Oswego was one of 10 winners of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant in 2016, the first round of the program. The state now is in the fourth year of the program.
The Downtown Revitalization Initiative is creating livable, walkable, vibrant communities where people of all ages can live, work and play, said Cuomo. Research consistently shows that these types of communities are attractive to both Millennials and Baby Boomers.