City beach may not open until August

Large pieces of wood and debris are piled next to a loader as clean-up of the Ogdensburg beach site behind the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority administrative building is underway. Christopher Lenney/The Journal

OGDENSBURG — City residents are going to have to wait a bit long for the city beach to officially open.

During the July City Council meeting Monday night, City Manager Stephen P. Jellie gave council members an update on the city beach reopening progress, saying that the city has “a little bit more work to do” in order to open the beach this summer. He projected the beach will not open until the beginning of August and that about $21,000 has been spent on the project to date.

According to an email Mr. Jellie received last week from Ronald E. Sheppard, district director for the state Department of Health Canton District Office, further water samples need to be tested. Mr. Jellie told council the city is working with an engineer and DOH personnel on another round of samples. He did not say when those water samples would be completed.

“At this time,” according to Mr. Sheppard’s email, “a permit to operate the proposed bathing beach cannot be granted, as the information submitted shows that further assessment is needed regarding water quality and clarity at the beach.”

The email also stated that some sanitary survey and design requirements set forth in the state sanitary code have not yet been met. One such example Mr. Sheppard pointed out is that the sanitary survey report does not address the two pipes adjacent to the beach — one on each side.

“These pipes are a potential pollution source influencing bathing beach water quality,” Mr. Sheppard wrote. “It is not known what the pipes transmit or how far they extend into the water.”

“Normally for something like this,” Mr. Jellie said of opening the beach, there is a long sample period, but “ours has been short.”

Further, Mr. Sheppard said, water clarity tests should be done at a 4-foot depth in the bathing area at a minimum of three different locations.

Regardless of the setbacks, Mr. Jellie said it is important to note that the city has been on a short timeline in opening the beach.

“I think the (state) Health Department has treated us, up to this point, fairly,” he added. “They have moved it along; this is not typical for them to move an action of this sort so quickly, but they have worked with us.”

The department has also fielded a variety of concerns made by community members, Mr. Jellie said, which has added to the delay as the department is following through on all concerns raised.

“I wish we were a little bit father along,” Mr. Jellie said, “but we have come a long way.”

City Council, during its March 24 meeting, passed a resolution setting a goal to open a city beach by July 1. The resolution, which was passed unanimously, stated that the least expensive and quickest way to achieve the July 1 goal is to reopen the former city beach on Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority land.

During a special meeting May 13, City Council passed a resolution to lease the land from OBPA.

The city’s lease agreement with OBPA is at a cost of $3,000. The $3,000 figure is made up of $1,000 for the security deposit, $1,000 for utilities and $1,000 to rent the land for four months at $250 a month. The beach would be open through September.

The beach was closed in 1994 when the city opened its pool. The beach was considered too small, the surrounding grounds were routinely littered with garbage and the water itself was “dismissed as stagnant and rife with oil from the big cargo ships which navigate the river,” according to a 1993 Times article on the beach closure.

The pool would remain open this summer in addition to the beach.

“If we can convince the state to stay within this timeframe,” Mr. Jellie said Monday, “I think we can get it to (open) soon; we can get the entire month of August.”

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(1) comment

Rook03

The beach isnt ready? Shocker! More water samples needed? Shocker!! Potential sources of contamination? Shocker!!! I believe the public brought this to the Counsel’s attn when the beach was first proposed. If the counsel (Rishe, Skelly, Jellie) would have done some research, and looked up minutes from the meetings in 1994 (or consulted someone on the counsel in 1994) they would have found the beach was contaminated at that time, thus why the city funded the public pool. 🤦🏻‍♂️

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