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Ogdensburg will hold public hearings on waterfront plan

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OGDENSBURG — It will soon be the public’s turn to comment on the city’s ongoing waterfront revitalization plan.

The city on May 2 will hold back-to-back public meetings at the Dobisky Visitors Center, 100 Riverside Ave., to both receive a progress report and hear suggestions and ideas on the plan. A community open house from 3 to 5 p.m. will be followed by a community workshop from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

It has been more than a month since representatives of Vita Nuova, a Connecticut consulting firm, were in the city for three days to meet with officials representing the city, businesses, Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority, Fort La Presentation Association, community groups, property owners and others to get their views on how best to develop a 330-acre downtown section of St. Lawrence River waterfront. It is all part of the city’s in-progress Brownfields Opportunity Area study.

The ideas and suggestions, according to city Planning and Development Director Andrea L. Smith, are still percolating.

“We’re continually getting updates on who’s doing what,” she said Monday.

The brownfields grant program — overseen by the state Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of State — was started to help communities expedite environmental cleanup and reuse of polluted sites. The city has applied to the program for a maximum of $1 million, funding that can be used to demolish and clean up specific sites around the city, particularly the former Augsbury Oil Co. tank farm property on Riverside Avenue.

The city’s brownfields zone is between Park Street to the east and the former Diamond International site, Mansion Avenue, to the west.

A fall 2012 market analysis of Ogdensburg by Vita Nuova concluded that multifamily housing units like apartments, townhouses and condominiums work best for housing along with commercial enterprises on remediated brownfields sites.

City Manager John M. Pinkerton said waterfront land always has a “high value” that self-financing developers find attractive. Because of that, he is confident that they will come calling once the plan is in place and momentum begins.

“I’m an optimist,” he said. “You can’t let it stop.”

Vita Nuova officials, who will be here for the May 2 public meeting, will explain the final plan to City Council members June 24.

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