Ogdensburg to seek additional proposals for 17 Main St. after developer shares plan for brewery
BY JIMMY LAWTON
North Country This Week
OGDENSBURG — A proposal to establish a brewery and pub at 17 Main Street caused city council to scrap plans to sell the property at a city auction.
Bill Hosmer, ower of Hosmer’s Marina and Smuggler’s Cafe, submitted a letter laying out a proposal for the site that promised to have the business up and running within three years or it would return the property to the city.In his letter, Hosmer said that because the land is in the city’s prime development area, the city should sell the property though a request for proposal process rather than through an auction.
"Ogdensburg has very little developable pieces of land left within the City and 17 Main Street is one of them. We believe the City should sell this property with an RFP so the City can ensure this property is developed and aligns with the LWRP. As Bill number 58 currently reads, the City would sell this property at auction to the highest bidder. While auctions may generate a little more money up front, it does not guarantee that the property will be develope," Hosmer said in his letter.
"We have proposed that if we do not develop 17 Main Street within 3 years, then we will turn it back over to the City so that someone else can develop it. City Councillors are elected to lead this City and part of that is choosing a direction for the City and ensuring that it is developed with the vision set forth. If multiple RFP's are submitted maybe we can work together to make all the projects work within the City or if the City chooses to go in another direction that is fine by us; however, we do not want the city to risk having another developable property lay vacant after it has been auctioned off, as we have seen happen time and again."
That sentiment was echoed by City Planner Andrea Smith, who said all the city owned-properties the city had an interest in seeing developed should be considered for such a process, especially those located in prime development zones.
While the majority of council was supportive of Hosmer’s proposal due to his successful track record, Deputy Mayor John Rishe was against the measure.
Rishe said the RFP process would be unfair and referenced a letter allegedly received months ago by the city manager from the Frary family expressing interest, however the letter was allegedly unseen by the majority of council and was not made available at the meeting.
Rishe pointed to the city code and said that selling the property at auction was the proper way to handle the situation.
He accused his fellow councilors and the city planner of playing favoritism toward Mr. Hosmer and said the RFP process is subjective in nature.
City Manager Stephen Jellie echoed Rishe’s concern, but to a lesser degree. He agreed that the RFP process could be viewed as unfair and said he has heard of other interested parties, all of whom were local.
However, Jellie said that he believed the RFP process would stand against any potential legal challenges.
Rishe said that getting into a situation where people are having conversations with developers before RFPs have been spent leads to persuasion and favoritism, something city officials should avoid.
Councilors Steven Fisher and Bill Dillabough favored the RFP process. As did councilors Michael Powers, Nichole Kennedy and Dan Skamperle.
Mayor Jeffrey M. Skelly acknowledged that Rishe raised solid points, but believed the RFP process would allow other interested developers to make a pitch to the city.
The city is expected to seek proposals from interested developers soon.
The resolution to sell the property at auction failed 6-1 with Rishe as the only affirmative vote.