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Politics and Government

Barlow's 2021 plans focused on economic recovery, waterfront redevelopment

Due to the pandemic, Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow delivered his 2021 State of the City address online.

In his annual address, Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow said the state of the city this year rests on recovering from the COVID-19 health crisis. But, that won't stop officials from moving forward on several major projects such as efforts to further transform the city's waterfront area along Lake Ontario.

“The city of Oswego for decades has failed to fully capitalize on our waterfront and natural assets,” Barlow said. “In 2021, that changes."

Barlow's administration plans to break ground soon on a $9-million project to transform Oswego's empty pier into a pedestrian-friendly boardwalk. And in June, the city will officially reopen its Wright's Landing Marina, which has undergone a $3.5-million renovation that includes a new pavilion, renovated bathhouse and restrooms, and a three-foot of elevation of the marina to avoid future flooding.

Barlow is also hoping to stimulate more growth and investment in the city. His administration is teaming with locally owned Pathfinder Bank to cover closing costs on homes that are purchased in Oswego by frontline healthcare workers, first responders, and active members of the military. This “Heroes as Neighbors” program is a win-win, Barlow says, by honoring those who have given so much to the community in the last year and by incentivizing those who work in Oswego to live there too.

“Closing costs can quickly accumulate, surprising young professionals when they go to close on a home for the first time,” He said. “It can mean the difference between buying or renting, moving or staying put. We want and need more nurses, doctors, and police in our community and encouraging them to live in Oswego adds to our fabric and character.”

Thanks to continued reductions in overtime expenses and other administrative efficiencies, Barlow has also proposed reducing residents' sewer and water bills as well as building permit fees. The Oswego Common Council last cut sewer and water rates in 2019. These continued rollbacks are an effort to undo the increase that passed in 2016 when the city was struggling with paying  for a federally mandated project to separate Oswego’s sewer and storm water system. That project came to an end last year ahead of schedule and under budget.

“For many years, residents were strapped with double-digit tax hikes and frequent fee increases. Those days are long gone,” Barlow said. “As promised, we continue to offer financial relief to our homeowners the moment we find it responsible to do so.”

As for COVID-19, with vaccinations now rolling out in central New York, Barlow said the priority over the coming months will shift to economic recovery. To that end, he plans to issue another round of his Buy One Get One program. It utilizes local development funding to match the dollars people spend on gift cards for use at locally owned businesses.