Mayor takes aim at pay disparity for city workers

Ogdensburg Mayor Jeffrey Skelly at a special City Council meeting. Tom Graser/Watertown Daily Times

OGDENSBURG — The city of Ogdensburg will continue to accept comments and suggestions for possible projects to be included in its Downtown Revitalization Initiative application until Friday.

Andrea Smith, director of Planning & Development, presented a virtual public meeting on Sept. 1, a requirement by the state for any DRI application. Ogdensburg Mayor Jeffrey M. Skelly was in attendance with Smith.

While there were only a few suggestions submitted at the meeting, Ms. Smith stated that the public can still email comments at asmith@ogdensburg.org or written suggestions can be placed in the drop box at City Hall, 330 Ford St., until the end of business on Friday.

Suggestions and comments would be included in a summary presented to city council on Sept. 13 when it would vote on a resolution approving the DRI application which needs to be submitted to the state by Sept. 15.

Ms. Smith did provide additional information on the state’s DRI process, a grant program that encourages economic development in downtown areas.

“Projects submitted should have a synergy in them, again all in an effort to promote economic development in the downtown area,” she said.

The north country region will see either one community receive $20 million or two communities receive $10 million each. Recipients will be named in mid-to-late fall. Ms. Smith said the communities that are awarded funding would have a six- to seven-month planning process to help the communities develop a Strategic Development Plan that would assist them moving forward with project implementation in the summer of 2022.

Any projects that are thought of after the application has been submitted or worked on during the Strategic Development Plan would still be able to receive funding, according to Ms. Smith.

“Just because a project is not submitted in our application does not mean it would be not eligible for funding following an award,” Ms. Smith said.

For the city’s application, the boundary being considered encompasses Ogdensburg’s historic downtown on Ford Street between Franklin Street and the downtown mall, the Marina District, and expands out as west as the Diamond National site and as east as the former Augsbury tank farm site and the former Newell’s manufacturing facility on Paterson Street.

“Development of both of those bookends will ultimately really feed and support development within what we call the core downtown area,” Ms. Smith said.

The state is looking for “transformative” projects when they review the DRI applications, according to Ms. Smith. One of these type of projects has a minimum award of $100,000.

“So when we talk about transformative opportunities and projects we are talking about projects that are significant enough to catalyze development of other properties in close proximity. The state asks for these projects to be shovel ready, but shovel ready means construction or implementation ready of one to years of award,” Ms. Smith said.

There was little in the way of comments, mainly because those attending the virtual meeting were having trouble speaking due to the mode of which they were attending. However, they were still able to send messages to Ms. Smith.

One suggestion was for a boardwalk from Fort La Presentation to the Paterson Street boat launch. City councilor John Rishe thought a downtown transportation study would assist the city.

At a previous council meeting, Ms. Smith said that she would be recommending a structural analysis and feasibility study of the Diamond pier, wastewater improvements including but not limited to a potential lift station, wayfinding and streetscape improvements of the Ford Street corridor, development of the downtown skate park and recreation center and downtown mall parking improvements.

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(1) comment

Rook03

Whats the over/under on how long this meeting lasts… i give it 15 minutes before the mayor shuts it down bc someone is making faces at him.

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