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Oswego imagines waterfront makeover options

Payne Horning
Oswego residents take in the proposals in the city's waterfront makeover project.

Oswego is narrowing in on a plan to completely overhaul its waterfront area. Some of the proposals include radical changes to the current landscape, like a beach, whitewater rafting course and new maritime museum. 

The city received a state-funded grant to study ways it can best utilize its lakeside location so Oswego can become more of a destination. The consultant on the project Greg Weykamp says after a year of meeting with city leaders and residents, there's one overarching desire.  

"It’s a real focus on access to the water," Weykamp said. "There’s no question that people feel a real need to get on the water and there’s just not as much access as you would think for a waterfront community."

The area under consideration is the stretch of land along Lake Ontario between Breitbeck Park and the Port of Oswego. Weykamp presented two plans at a recent public meeting, both of which are designed to get more people down to the water. Some ideas call for moving the boat launch to the west side of Breitback, which the consultant says would free more area around the pier for the public and increase capacity for boaters by 50 percent. But most of the reforms concern the Oswego pier - adding green space, spots for restaurants and an adjacent flat-rock or elevated sand beach. The head of the Oswego Tourism and Promotion Advisory Board Ellen Clark says that could make the pier a magnet.

"A lot of these ideas they’re talking about with food trucks or crafters or a beach, that just opens it up to everyone," Clark said. "Most of the people who come here are very interested in the water and would love to do more on the water and it’s not very available to anyone else."

Oswego officials say the city has already received some state grants to pay for the ultimate makeover and they plan to apply for more funding this year. In the meantime, the consultants are implementing the public's feedback on the proposals and plan to unveil their next iteration in February.

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.