OSWEGO — City officials in 2021 are looking forward to the completion of construction and waterfront development projects, and are hoping for a return of cherished events and fully opened restaurants.

The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 brought sadness with the loss of lives and illnesses and quarantines. It also brought shuttered businesses, layoffs, and the cancellation or many school and community events.

The start of the new year has city officials optimistic for a much better 2021.

“After a very difficult and challenging 2020, there is much in our community to look forward to and be excited about in 2021,” said Oswego Common Council President Rob Corradino, R-7th Ward.

Throughout 2020, Oswego started or finished more than a dozen construction projects and restoration projects around the city. These improvements were funded in part by the $10 million 2016 Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) awarded to the city.

Projects funded in part by the DRI include, but are not limited to, the Litatro building, Riverwalk Apartments, Harborview Square, Water Street Square, East Lake Commons, Lake Ontario Water Park, Cahill Building restoration and improvements to the Children’s Museum of Oswego.

“We’ve made enormous progress with our downtown revitalization efforts,” Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow said.

The Lake Ontario Water Park, located directly south of the Quality Inn and Suites Riverfront at 70 E. First St., is one of the DRI projects slated to finish sometime in 2021.

Earlier this week, Corradino provided The Palladium-Times with a list of things he is excited about for the coming year. The water park’s hopeful completion and opening is one of his highly anticipated points of 2021.

Corradino said, “Seeing all the new downtown apartments fill up with new residents,” and getting restaurants and businesses open at full capacity are among the high points on his list as well.

Barlow hinted that while new people move to Oswego, the pandemic is still affecting the community, and focusing on the residents’ and the economy’s health is essential.

“As we move into 2021, our primary focus will be continuing to nurse our small business community and the general public through the global pandemic,” Barlow said.

Managing the pandemic response and keeping local businesses operating is something Barlow said is essential. He plans to help them secure Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, the PPP is a loan designed to provide direct incentives for small businesses to keep workers on their payrolls.

Barlow said that when the federal government rolled out the PPP earlier this year, the city assisted local businesses with applications and generated awareness about them.

“We’ll keep working with our businesses to get them PPP funding and try more small business initiatives to keep them afloat while we get through the vaccination process,” Barlow said.

Joining Barlow and Corradino in their excitement for a return to a healthy community life, Oswego Common Council member Susan McBrearty, R-1st Ward, said the vaccine is something she is happy to see in 2021.

“My hope for 2021 is that the COVID-19 vaccine has the efficacy we are hoping for and that our community embraces it and gets vaccinated. Then we can start the process of returning to ‘normal,’” McBrearty said.

One part of returning to the pre-COVID “normal” life would be the return of public events and the full opening of restaurants, which are also things Corradino want to see. 

One normal thing Corradino hopes will return in 2021 is “being able to take a walk in one of our beautiful parks without the fear of getting sick,” he said.

City officials are hoping for the return of events like Harborfest, music on Thursday evenings at Veterans’ Stage, Super DIRT Week, races at Oswego Speedway, and entertainment at the Water Street pocket park.

They also anticipate the coming additions to the waterfront and completion of the current projects such as the marina upgrade and breaking ground on the International Pier Project.

“We’ll need to work hard and fast to finish Wright’s Landing Marina and re-open the area for June 1,” Barlow said.

Once completed, the marina will have new restrooms, a new pavilion, a small welcome center, and a walking path connected to the Harbor Trail. These new additions will provide easier access for all.

Corradino said he is excited to see the completion of the projects so fishing and boating can return.

The $9 million International Pier Project will transform the pier into a powerful tool focused on powering the local economy.

“I think the pier will make a significant difference, and at that point, we’ll have a viable waterfront area that we can use as an economic tool,” Barlow said

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