Prescott mayor visits Ogdensburg to discuss ferry, seeks commitment from new council
Saturday, February 15, 2020 - 5:37 pm

BY JIMMY LAWTON

North Country This Week

OGDENSBURG – Prescott Mayor Brett Todd and several other representatives visited Ogdensburg City Council to seek reassurance that the new administration is still on board with the ferry project and to share information regarding the project.

Todd told council that the current plan would be to charter a vessel in the range of $2,000 to $4,000 per day capable of transporting 20 to 30 pedestrians or cyclists at a time.

A break-even cost for the operation would require a charge of $4 to $8 each way.

Todd told council that the most difficult aspect of the ferry operation would be the border requirements. However, both U.S. and Canada border agencies have agreed to work with Ogdensburg and Prescott to run a pilot project, which would help determine what infrastructure requirements they would need to allow for a permanent operation.

Todd said in order to put less of a burden on the border agencies the pilot run should not be on heavy bridge traffic days such as holidays.

The pilot operation would be held on three weekends, two days each, in the summer of 2020.

To gauge interest, the report suggested that each weekend could target a different type of audience.

“One weekend could align with a bicycling group crossing but would not be limited to just cyclists. Another weekend could align with events in both Prescott and Ogdensburg to attract passenger traffic. Finally, a third weekend could be targeted to a time when no special events are scheduled in order to gauge the regular interest in crossing the border on a ferry,” the report said.

Todd told council that in order to move forward he would like a commitment from the new administration to support the project. He also said the two governments would need to agree on the pilot weekends and secure formal agreements from the border agencies for those weekends. They would also need to secure a charter.

Council did not take any action, but Mayor Skelly said they would likely have a resolution of support to provide at the next council meeting.

Although no commitment was given at the meeting, the new administration did not express concerns.

The idea for the ferry spun out of joint meetings between the senators from the U.S. and Canada. Originally the ferry had been envisioned to run between Brockville and Morristown. A feasibility study for that project was done and said it showed promise. However, heavy economic development undertakings in Brockville and a lack of interest in Morristown kept the project from moving forward.

That prompted discussion of operating the ferry between Ogdensburg and Prescott.

The plans were nearly sunk after the US Customs and Border Protection, and Homeland Security, informed the city it would need to spend about $10 million to establish the required facilities and equipment.

However, the agency later stated it could provide security for a test run after the city received support from state and federal representatives including Sen. Patty Ritchie and U.S. Congresswoman Elise Stefanik.