Ogdensburg plans to rework downtown revitalization grant application despite short deadline
BY JIMMY LAWTON
North Country This Week
OGDENSBURG – Ogdensburg will rework last year’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant application, despite concerns from the city manager and a short turnaround time.
The deadline to submit an application is Sept. 23. If Ogdensburg were successful, the city would receive $10 million to assist with redeveloping various downtown areas of the city.City Manager Stephen Jellie told council that in considering whether or not to apply, he and the city planner looked at last year’s plan and tried to see what looked better.
Jellie said in reality, this year’s application probably wouldn’t be as strong as last years. In the previous application the city was in negotiations for a $100 million waterfront development project and plans included the development of a brewery and a recreation center.
None of those projects have yet come to fruition, though plans for the brewery do still appear to be moving forward.
Jellie noted that Ogdensburg was unsuccessful last year when it was in an even better position than now and asked council to consider if it would be better to wait until the following year and devote staff time to other areas.
Councilor John Rishe suggested removing a few projects from the grant but garnered unanimous support from city council to resubmit the grant.
Last year’s DRI project is a continuation of efforts by city officials to highlight the potential for a revitalized waterfront.
A total budget of $50,352,711 was presented to the NCREC, with a request of $17,445,838 to be funded through the DRI.
The largest portion of the funding was to enhance the Diamond site redevelopment, with a total cost of $24,410,000 in consideration, according to the presentation.
The DRI funding would have covered $4.1 million of the total project.
At the time two developers were allegedly interested in the Diamond site, with marinas, lodging and residential homes pitched as potential options.
A secondary project at the Diamond site was also presented, with a riverwalk and pier that would be open to the public.
A total cost of the project would be $1.943 million, with a DRI request of $1.543 million.
A recreation center in the downtown area was also included in the DRI application, with a total cost of $3.968 million, with a DRI request of $3.5 million.
All of those projects will likely be scrapped over the next week or so as the city preps a new plan.
In the last submission, city officials also expanded on a number of other projects, including an investment in Fort La Presentation.
The Fort project would cost $779,010, with a DRI request of $549,010.
The Remington Art Museum had also submitted a proposal for the project, with a total cost of $1.173 million dollars and a DRI request of $1.043 million.
In the last application the city’s public projects also would see a significant investment of $11,562,159 from the city.
Non-profit partnerships would invest $1,602,010 in the previous submission.
It’s unclear at this time what aspects will remain in the coming application.
The DRI essentially channels state tax dollars into individual communities chosen annually by the state in regions across New York.
For private entities, funds from the DRI can be used to cover up to 40% of project costs, with a minimum award of $100,000 per project. Projects must be shovel ready and are approved by the state through a local planning committee.
The annual grant program which had often been referred to as the “Hunger Games” has been both praised and criticized as it has the potential to jump start local economies, but awards only one winner in the entire North Country Region.