Think bigger

The Fort de la Présentation site can be seen to the left of this historic map showing where the Battle of Ogdensburg took place. Graphic submitted

OGDENSBURG — City Council declined to endorse a Fort La Presentation Association Consolidated Funding application to acquire property that was once the site of the original fort.

Barbara O’Keefe spoke to the council about the grant.

“We were pleased in 2016 when city council passed an identical resolution,” Ms. O’Keefe said.

That year, however, no acquisition grants were awarded.

Ms. O’Keefe spoke about how much of historic Ogdensburg has been lost to time and the wrecking ball.

“Urban renewal took away our downtown,” she said. “It’s too late to preserve the beautiful architecture at the Ogdensburg Psychiatric Center.”

The site is adjacent to the property on which a reproduction of the fort is planned to be built. Acquisition of the property would secure an important artifact field that has only been lightly touched.

“The Fort La Presentation Association Board understands this effort will be taking 1.6 acres off the tax roll at a cost of $740 a year.”

The acquisition of the property, she said, will offset the tax loss with multiplier dollars brought in through tourism.

“The deep water dockage on the property will allow us to welcome tall ships, tour boats and domestic cruise ships to enhance our tourism efforts,” she said.

Mayor Wayne L. Ashley spoke out against the effort.

“I can’t support taking this property off the tax rolls,” Mr. Ashley said. “That’s why we are in the situation we are in now.”

Councilor Jennifer Stevenson disagreed.

“The fort seems to be gaining momentum with what they have been doing in that area of the city,” Ms. Stevenson said. “They’ve got a beautiful park that our citizen have use of and this is the site of the original fort. It’s not just acquiring a piece of land. It is a piece of land with our history embedded in it.”

“It’s not the $700 this year,” Councilor David Price G. Price said. “It’s the forever not gaining any tax dollars off it.”

The fiscal condition of the city was too dire, Mr. Price said, to continue to give away taxpayer money.

Councilor Mike Powers said the city was nearly falling into the river.

“It’s financially falling apart,” Mr. Powers said. “We have people who are doing good things. We have projects that are hanging on with a half a can full of hope. I applaud the fort. I applaud them in all the work that they do. All I hear from people in this city is ‘tax exempt properties and properties that we are not getting on our tax roll.’”

The resolution failed in a 4-2 vote. Ms. Stevenson and Nicole L. Kennedy voted in favor. Mr. Ashley, Mr. Price, Mr. Powers and Timothy P. Davis voted no. Deputy Mayor Daniel E. Skamperle was absent.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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