$16 million waterfront renovation begins

Wright’s Landing Marina and the International Pier, pictured above, sit empty as Mayor Billy Barlow declared Thursday the city’s west side public boating access to Lake Ontario would remain closed for the balance of 2020 as Oswego embarks on a massive waterfront renovation project.

Wright’s Landing, International Pier closed for remainder of 2020

OSWEGO — Mayor Billy Barlow is shutting down the city’s public marinas, part of a strategy of “short term pain for long term gain” spurred by $16 million in waterfront investments projects.

The city on Tuesday announced  the beginning of construction at Breitbeck Park, Wright’s Landing and the International Pier. According to Barlow,  the $16 million investment is comprised of three total projects supported by $12.6 million in awarded funding from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative. An additional $1.1 million in other state funding and a $1.5 million grant from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will help pay for the project.

The FEMA grant was pursued to repair damaged caused by high water levels and flooding from Lake Ontario, officials said. Since 2017, the city of Oswego sustained over $5.5 million of property damage due to high waters and flooding along the lakeshore.

 “If we totally close both marinas at once, we can complete the construction quickly, rather than working around regular operations,” Barlow said.  “During construction, conditions would not be even close to desire-able anyway, so it makes much more sense to totally close the marina this year, get the project done, and work to re-open in summer 2021.”

Oswego’s Breitbeck Park project will call for large rip-rap stones and additional landscaping along the bottom of Brietbeck Park and the Harbor Trail, funded by FEMA, to prevent future land erosion from high water.  Oswego’s REDI projects cover significant improvements to Wright’s Landing Marina by elevating the ground surface by two feet to prevent future flooding, a new pavilion, a new welcome center, full renovations of restroom facilities, implements ADA accessible access throughout the marina, a new pavilion and more firepit and seating areas.  Lastly, a significant investment will be made to the International Pier, currently an underutilized gravel pier.  Barlow’s plan calls for a $6.5 million transformation of the pier into a pedestrian oriented boardwalk pier.  The projects are scheduled to begin immediately, will happen simultaneously and construction is expected to last through July 2021, using a combination of Oswego Department of Public Work crews and private contractors.  

Oswego has been working with Vernon-based Delta Engineers to design the projects since early 2019, prior to securing FEMA emergency declaration funding and Cuomo’s REDI funding in fall 2019.  In 2016, upon taking office, Barlow’s administration conducted a waterfront feasibility study, outlining more than two dozen projects to help capitalize on the Lake Ontario waterfront.

City officials on waterfront renovation

“Our Breitbeck Park, Wright’s Landing Marina, and International Pier projects will surely transform Oswego’s waterfront and position our community to finally take full advantage of being a waterfront community.”

— Mayor Billy Barlow

“Our projects will both protect our waterfront property and assets, while allowing us to build and improve our waterfront to serve as an attractive economic development tool, adding to Oswego’s forward progress. We continue to focus on enhancing and transforming our waterfront into a beautiful destination within our city.  Mayor Barlow’s vision for the International Pier and the Wright’s Landing Marina will protect our shoreline from future damage and transform our local assets into an attraction, directly producing economic benefits for the city of Oswego and central New York.”  

— Director of Economic Development Nathan Emmons

"The waterfront is what built the city of Oswego. The shoreline was devastated by considerable flooding that began in May 2017 and then reoccurred in 2019. Since that time, officials across city departments, under the leadership of Mayor Barlow, have worked tirelessly with our State and Federal partners to make our projects come to fruition. Today we start toward making our new, improved, and more resilient waterfront a reality."

— Fire Chief and  Emergency Management Director Randy Griffin

“We’re thrilled to be able to do a bulk of the construction work in-house with the Oswego DPW personnel and equipment.  Being able to do this project in-house will save on project costs, expedites the construction schedule and gives our DPW employees an opportunity to participate in a project that will transform this community.  We’re excited to help execute Mayor Barlow’s vision for Oswego’s waterfront and look forward to enjoying the final product.”  

— DPW Commissioner Thomas Kells

Boaters who previously rents dock slips in either marina can call the Oswego Department of Public Works at 315-343-5055 to receive an immediate full refund. 

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