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Oswego downtown renovations start this summer

During Oswego's Memorial Day parade, Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow marched through a downtown that is about to undergo a major transformation. This summer will mark the beginning of construction on Oswego's downtown revitalization plan, part of a$10 million award the city won from the state to fund 12 projects.

The grant to kickstart work was originally awarded in 2016, but it took a year for the city to identify and have the state approve what could be funded. But Barlow says the wheels are finally in motion now that several projects have cleared the zoning process.

"We see now these projects finally gearing up to start construction - that’s encouraging," Barlow said. "It tells the city that the property owners are actually on board and fulfilling the commitment and the obligation that they have in my mind after we secured this DRI money for them to do the projects they said they could do."

Credit Payne Horning / WRVO News
A pocket park will be built in this alley, connecting two streets in downtown Oswego that are popular pedestrian walkways.

Barlow expects work will begin this summer on a mini pocket park that can be used for public gatherings in downtown, an indoor waterpark linked to one of the city's hotels, new exhibits at the Oswego children's museum and street remodeling to provide a safer experience for pedestrians in downtown.

There are many more projects that won't even get started for awhile. But Barlow says the work this summer should satisfy residents' desire to see the change they were promised two years ago.

"This city has become a little weary of grants and studies and seeing things actually change," Barlow said. "We have heard a lot of plans through the last three decades, but the city still looks the same way it did three decades ago. I really want these first few projects to get in the ground so people see progress, they see the money is real, they see we won and they see that these property owners are committed and it’s the real deal."

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.