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Oswego wins $10 million to revitalize its downtown

The city of Oswego has won the state's Downtown Revitalization Initiative award for the central New York region. The competition gives $10 million to 10 communities throughout New York.

In Oswego Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo congratulated Oswego's leaders for developing what he called a smart plan that can help a city and region scarred by the loss of manufacturing.

"You deserve it," Cuomo said. "You need it and you deserve it. I know it has been a very hard road in Oswego. It's been a hard road all across upstate New York, but this really is a different day and the arrows really are turned in a different direction."

Credit governorandrewcuomo / Flickr
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (right) congratulates Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow (left) after the city won $10 million in the Downtown Revitalization Initiative competition.

Oswego's aptly named application, "Building on Momentum," centered around six anchor projects that are already in motion. Mayor Billy Barlow said the funding will be used to expedite those projects, ultimately leading to new residential and commercial spaces, a new business incubator and restoration to the historic Cahill Building and Buckhout-Jones Building.

"These are things that are just almost a hair away from happening and that's what this shot in the arm -this gigantic amount of funding- will hopefully help," Barlow said. "We'll see these projects, which have taken so long, come to fruition."

But Barlow said the money will also be used to add more green space and improved walking space.

"The second part is to make downtown more pedestrian friendly, more aesthetically pleasing, do some beautification projects, work on storefront facades and just make sure that when you pull into Oswego, you're left with a good impression," Barlow said.

Barlow attributes the city's success to investments they've already made in downtown, such as the streetscape renovation project along state route 104. And last month, the Oswego Common Council approved a plan to install free WiFi downtown.

Oswego beat out Auburn, Cortland and Fulton for the first-place award in central New York. Barlow called it a banner week for the area. On Wednesday, news arrived that the economically embattled FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant may be sold rather than closed. The owner of FitzPatrick, Entergy, is currently in negotiations with the owner of the Nine Mile Point and Ginna facilities, Exelon.

Super Dirt Week comes to Oswego

Credit Oswego Speedway
Oswego Speedway will host Super DIRT Week this year. It's the first time the asphalt track has hosted dirt racing since 1952.

And the city is now set to host Super Dirt Week, a major racing event, at its Oswego Speedway. It was supposed to take place at the new Central New York Raceway Park in Hastings, but construction is delayed and payments from the state to help finish the project, a total investment of $5 million, have stopped. Cuomo expressed concern about the park.

"I don't know the technical reasons why it didn't work, but we don't just give away state money," Cuomo said. "There have to be reserves, there has to be security for the money and all I know is that it didn't work out with that operator, but we want to keep super dirt week here and they've talked to Oswego Speedway, who says they can host it."

Cuomo said the state is planning to invest some money to improve the Oswego Speedway ahead of the October race. Formerly, Super Dirt Week was hosted at the New York State Fairgrounds.

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.