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Ogdensburg and OBPA seek common ground on psych center redevelopment

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The city of Ogdensburg and the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority are working on an agreement to split surplus land currently owned by the state on the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center campus that is proposed to be turned over to the city.

OBPA is looking for 10 acres to expand its Commerce Park light industrial park while the city is seeking 160 acres to use for both commercial and residential development.

State Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, has introduced legislation in the Senate that would turn over land to the city. Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, is in the process of introducing the same bill in the lower house.

“All the agencies here have the same goal of developing this land: job generation,” OBPA Executive Director Wade A. Davis said.

Mr. Davis said the authority would be open to putting on the city’s tax roll the 10 acres the Authority hopes to develop, depending on the specific needs of businesses that set up shop there.

“We want to head in the same direction,” Mr. Davis said of the Authority’s work with the city.

Ogdensburg City Manager John M. Pinkerton said the city and the Authority plan on meeting on March 12 to hash out exactly how they are going to work together on developing the property.

“We will come to a meeting of the minds,” he said.

Mr. Pinkerton said he doesn’t expect any significant disagreements.

Both the city and the Authority are hoping to develop a parcel of land that stretches between Entrance Avenue and the industrial park.

The city is also hoping to develop land on the other side of Entrance Avenue, as well as along the St. Lawrence River at Point Airy.

All of the land that is being considered has been labeled surplus by the state Office of Mental Health.

Mrs. Ritchie said she expects her legislative colleagues, north country or otherwise, to come out in support of the effort.

“I would suspect that a number of my colleagues will be supportive of putting that property back on the tax roll,” she said. “I don’t see that as really a big issue.”

Mrs. Ritchie said she plans on speaking with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s staff about the effort in the coming weeks.

Mrs. Russell said she also plans on talking to the governor’s office.

“I think we all know that we want to expand the tax base,” she said. “Everybody seems to want to push in the same direction.”

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