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Oswego downtown revitalization plan near completion

Payne Horning
Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow reveals the latest about the state's plans to transform the city's downtown.

Oswego officials are putting the final touches on their plan to transform the city's downtown with a $10 million state grant. It includes a mix of commercial, residential and aesthetic additions that city officials think will make downtown Oswego a destination place for residents and tourists.

Feedback gathered at three public meetings helped balloon the city's proposed projects from six residential, commercial and historic renovations identified in the original application to more than 30 today. Some of those newer proposals include a water park, public art and a fund to help area businesses improve their storefront facades. The New York Department of State will ultimately decide which projects to fund. Mercedes Niess, director of Oswego's H. Lee White Maritime Museum, says she hopes the state is strategic with its investments.

"You have to pick the fruit that is going to produce something and I think they've tried to do that and hopefully the other projects will not fall by the wayside and still be in the mix if they don't make it in this round," Niess said. 

Those like Niess who showed up for the last public meeting were enthusiastic about what the funding will do for the port city. Others expressed concern about the plan's call for hundreds of new up-scale housing units in downtown. But Mayor Billy Barlow believes the demand is there since many of Oswego's rental properties now are dedicated to SUNY Oswego students.

"There actually is a void in the market for market-rate housing in downtown or near downtown," Barlow said. "Stantech actually did a study that showed the city of Oswego can support 900 market-rate units over the next 10 years."

New York state plans to begin doling out the funding as soon as this summer. 

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.