Facilities manager may operate rec venues

A city of Ogdensburg truck parked in the Lockwood Civic Center on Wednesday. Ogdensburg City Council is considering hiring a facilities manager to run the Civic Center and other city properties. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

OGDENSBURG — City Council heard a proposal from City Manager Stephen P. Jellie to hire a facilities manager to operate recreational facilities that currently fall under the supervision of the Department of Public Works.

DPW was handed over the reins of city recreation when City Council eliminated the Recreation Department earlier this year in anticipation of an economic hit caused by a drop in sales tax revenue in the wake of the coronavirus shutdowns.

“As we revive our recreation program into what the next generation of Ogdensburg recreation and activities will look like, the first step to that is to define the things that we absolutely can and must do,” Mr. Jellie said.

A facilities manager would be responsible for operating four city-owned venues, he said.

The facilities include the Lockwood Arena, the Dobisky Center, the City Marina and the Elsa M. Luksich Municipal Pool.

In addition to those four sites, a facilities manager, in Mr. Jellie’s vision, will be responsible for keeping up the various ball fields the city owns.

The position would be part of the city manager’s office, he said Monday night.

“We need to be prepared to run the Lockwood Arena so kids can skate, play hockey and do figure skating,” Mr. Jellie said. “The restrictions on that are not so onerous that people will not be able to do them. We certainly want to get the Dobisky Center back open and running. It’s a little more challenging there because it is not that large of a facility but there are small group requests for that facility so I want to get that back up and running and generating revenue.”

Mr. Jellie said looking into next summer, there are improvements and efficiencies to be found at the marina, and it’s important to keep the pool open.

In the future, Mr. Jellie said, the city would most likely step back from running recreational programs.

“The reason I’m not advocating for the return of the Recreation Department is I just don’t think the city will continue to be leading in providing the actual activities. I think the city will continue to be the leader in maintaining the facilities, scheduling programs and facilitating those groups that want to run the activities,” he said.

At Monday night’s meeting, City Councilor Nichole Kennedy L. Kennedy had questions about the plan.

“I just don’t understand why we are reinventing the wheel,” she said. “We had a recreation director. He ran the pool. He ran the ice rink. I understand that there is always room for improvement in a job description, but it just seems like we are creating more work.”

Deputy Mayor John A. Rishe suggested a facilities manager be active in promoting and creating events and to work closely with the Chamber of Commerce and others to keep the facilities active.

Mayor Jeffrey M. Skelly suggested the city look for someone to run summer activities and another person run the winter activities.

Mr. Jellie said they might have better luck finding a full-time person who could run both.

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