Ogdensburg takes major step forward in brownfield development plans
By JIMMY LAWTON
OGDENSBURG – After years of work, community meetings, and studies, Ogdensburg has finished Phase 2 of its Brownfield Opportunity Area Program.
City planner Andrea Smith said the completion of nomination study is major step for the city, which applied for BOA funding in 2009. She said the brownfield projects that it encompasses date back into the 1990s.Smith said the city received a $355,000 grant in 2010 with a 10 percent local match to create a plan that could be used to develop the city’s brown properties.
Smith says this step allows the city to apply for the official designation, which opens the door to a wider range of incentives and funding opportunities for the properties located within the BOA.
The study area for the waterfront BOA is approximately 330 acres located entirely within the municipal boundary of the City of Ogdensburg at the confluence of the St. Lawrence and Oswegatchie Rivers in the downtown core.
She said the plan will be used as a tool to find and attract developers that can breathe new life into the city’s former manufacturing district. It lays down guidelines for the ideal types of development that would best meet the city’s needs and spur development.
Completing Phase 2 sends a message to the state that Ogdensburg follows through on its commitments, according to Smith.
“It shows our ability to follow through. It shows our community is interested and committed to cleaning and developing these properties,” she said. “It puts us in a great position to applying for future funds.”
Smith said the nomination plan is a true community effort that involved volunteers, officials, staff members, politicians, organizations and local businesses to complete.
“This has been a very lengthy plan. We don’t take the community feedback lightly. We are very grateful for all the input we have received,” she said.
The designation must be approved by the Secretary of State, once that’s complete it can move on to the third phase, which is known as the implementation phase. Smith said that despite being called the implementation phase, it doesn’t mean implementing the development, it actually more focused on clearing hurtles to allow the property to be developed.
Smith said the BOA program has not received additional funding for the past few years, but the Governor included new funding for the BOA in his budget proposal. Smith is hopeful the city’s designation will be granted in a timely fashion, which would allow Ogdensburg to seek funding for phase 3.
Brownfield is a term used to describe formerly industrial sites that may have been contaminated with hazardous waste. The BOA program provides financial and technical assistance for the purpose of revitalizing brownfield properties and areas around them that have been affected by the presence of the sites
BOA designated properties afford developers, whose projects fit within the plan, tax breaks and other incentives. Every time the city completes a cleanup, zoning change or plan for the properties, it’s one less step a developer will need to take. Smith said clearing those sort of hurtles makes the properties more attractive.
The project area stretches from the westernmost edge of the City, east to Paterson Street and from the St. Lawrence River shoreline south to Lafayette Street, creating a concentrated area of strategic opportunity within the larger context of the City.
The proposed BOA includes four strategic districts of brownfields, vacant and/or underutilized properties all located along the City’s waterfront, spanning the St. Lawrence and Oswegatchie.
Ogdensburg’s BOA is broken into four districts, the Diamond District, Fort District, Marina District and Augsbury District.