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Oswego aims to improve asethetic quality along State Route 104

Payne Horning
Wayne Drugs, one of several businesses in downtown Oswego that has improved its storefront facade, is an example of what city officials hope is in store for the Port City through its Route 2014 revitalization project.

Oswego is planning a major revitalization of the area along State Route 104, which runs through the middle of its downtown and waterfront area.

Mayor Billy Barlow said it doesn't take long for visitors to pass through the city on Route 104, leaving little time for Oswego to stand out.

"It’s the face of our community," Barlow said. "It’s the street that gives you the impression, you know the first 30 seconds you have to make an impression."

So, the mayor is making it a priority for his administration to enhance the aesthetic quality of the streetscape along 3.5 miles of Route 104 that are within city limits. Oswego Planning and Zoning director Amy Birdsall said the origins of the project go back two years.

"As I was walking up and down Route 104, I recognized the drastic need for improvement and really felt that it was the first place the city needed to invest in order to revitalize this community," Birdsall said.

Birdsall helped Oswego secure a $225,000 grant from New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. The Greener Communities Initiative Grant, coupled with $60,000 from the city, will pay for consultants to develop a blueprint for the project. Barlow said the goal is to make spaces for bike lanes, trees and landscaping.

"It’s things like that that are aesthetically pleasing to folks who know nothing about city planning, who know nothing about how to make a city aesthetically pleasing, they just know that it looks nice," Barlow said. "It looks like a quaint town."

That will include improving the facade of businesses along Route 104. The city has already helped several businesses like Wayne Drugs renovate their storefront through separate grants that they say will serve as a model for others. Yet, a total cost for the plan and the source of funding for its implementation have not been identified.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.