OBPA seeks funding to open child care facility

The Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority Commerce Park on Route 37. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

OGDENSBURG — The Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority is working with the Arc Jefferson-St. Lawrence to open a child care facility in the OBPA’s Commerce Park.

During a Thursday night meeting of the OBPA’s child care committee, officials said they anticipate opening the 15,000-square-foot, $4.7 million facility by September 2024, when the school year will start. The completed facility will be open to the public to meet a need for local child care that was identified in a community survey.

During the meeting, OBPA Executive Director Steven J. Lawrence said they’re in the process of seeking funding.

“We may … not have a building built, but we know what we want to do and how we’re going to do it,” said OBPA Chair Vernon D. “Sam” Burns. The committee also includes OBPA board members Nicole A. Terminelli and Toni A. Kennedy.

Mr. Lawrence said the OBPA was turned down for the 2021 round of state Consolidated Funding Application awards, which includes annual Regional Economic Development Award funding.

Mr. Lawrence said a meeting is scheduled in July with the OBPA, Arc and Empire State Development, which administers CFA grants, to discuss the Arc possibly being the grant applicant.

“We did sign a memorandum of understanding with Arc of Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties. They have signed a letter of intent to partner with the OBPA as an operator of the child care facility,” he said. “We wanted to talk with Empire State Development and kind of pitch that. That’s how we’d be approaching this round of CFA grant awards and funding.”

He added that they haven’t filled out the 2022 application yet, but they have all the information they need to apply. They will seek $950,000 as the CFA grants award partial funding.

Mr. Lawrence said they’re also hoping to secure federal funding. He said Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D-N.Y., requested $2.1 million in May 2021, but they didn’t get the money.

“She has gone and put in a request for that $2.1 million in May of this year. I’m informed Rep. (Elise M.) Stefanik has submitted a request also,” he told the committee.

Ms. Kennedy noted that had the project gone according to the timetable they were hoping for, the facility was “supposed to be in construction by this point.”

“It’s been more difficult to obtain funding. We thought it was more ready and available out there. We’re finding out it’s not. We’ll modify some of what we’re doing with our apps, hope for the best and hear back soon,” Mr. Burns said.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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