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Final Oswego waterfront makeover plan raises hopes, concerns

After a year of gathering input, Edgewater Resources has unveiled its final plan for how to transform Oswego's waterfront area along Lake Ontario. The consultant's latest draft calls for two flat rock beaches, an expansion of the marina and overhauling the pier with an elevated sand beach, restaurants and a recreational green space for community events.

Edgewater President Greg Weykamp says it delivers on the community's desire for more access to Lake Ontario.

"Every inch of the waterfront is public and basically making it much easier to be down by the water and we want to get from the land and link you down into it get you on boats, get you on tours to the lighthouse and create flat-rock beach opportunities where you can get down into the water if you choose to," Weykamp said. 

The latest plan also calls for more residential space near the lake and a bike trail linking SUNY Oswego to the marina.

Several people at the meeting like Duane Morton said it will help Oswego capitalize on its waterfront location.

"They've got a lot of good ideas from it and I'm just hoping that everything will come together," Morton said. "It's going to take a long time to do it, but it's a big project and I'm sure Oswego will really profit from the whole thing."

Others like Gail Goebricher were worried about the price tag, like the proposal to build a new H. Lee White Maritime Museum and marine sanctuary building.

"One of the biggest things is the cost and where it's coming from," Goebricher said. "I think some of the ideas are a little outlandish."

The maritime museum board has approved of the plan to move its building off of the pier to improve public access.

Oswego has a $590,000 grant from the state that the city plans to match, which community development director Justin Rudgick says will kick-start more investment.

At the end of the meeting another objection was raised, not with the plan but with Edgewater. Suzanne Phillips is a resident of Rochester where the consultant recently worked on a project that ended with the city seeking another developer.

"Edgewater does not have a good name in the city of Rochester at this point," Phillips said. "We found them to be untrustworthy."

Several residents at the meeting seemed unphased by Phillips' warning, saying they are pleased with Edgewater's work thus far.

Weykamp said the Rochester project fell through because it took them longer to get funding than what they had anticipated, so the city moved on. Rudgick says the city already has some funding for the project and they are confident in the company's ability to fulfill their obligations. 

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.