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Ogdensburg to help Fort la Presentation with visitor center grant

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By LARRY ROBINSON

City of Ogdensburg officials will help the Fort la Presentation Association apply for funding to pay for a feasibility study to build a visitor interpretive center at the organization’s Lighthouse Point property.

Fort Association officials say the proposed visitor’s center will dovetail with ongoing efforts to build a one-mile walking trail connecting to Ogdensburg’s Maple City Trail that hugs the shore of the Oswegatchie River.

City council members voted 6-0 with one abstention Monday night to submit a $25,000 Consolidated Funding Grant application to the North Country Regional Economic Development Council. City Councilman William D. Hosmer abstained from voting because he is a member of the Fort la Presentation Association.

Fort Association President Barbara J. O’Keefe said there will be no cost to city taxpayers if the application is successful because her organization will provide all matching funds related to the grant. The association would be expected to provide whatever matching funds and in-kind services might be required to get the grant.

If constructed, the so-called Historic and Interpretive Center at Lighthouse Point would host educational and interpretive facilities, a small theater for lectures and video presentations, curation space for artifacts, office space and rest rooms, according to Mrs. O’Keefe. She said a preliminary feasibility study is needed to detail the site and the recreational potential for the project. The study would also include a market study and other user analysis.

The visitor center project is a key component of another Fort Association initiative underway. In 2013 the association was awarded a $352,650 grant from the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation to build a one-mile walking trail. When completed next year, the walking trail project is expected to cost about $470,000, with the remainder of the money coming from grants and other funding. Msr. O’Keefe told the City Council Monday that work on the walking trail has yet to begin, pending final contract considerations with developers.

“We haven’t got a copy of the contract yet,” she said.

City Manager John M. Pinkerton said prior to Monday’s council meeting that the proposed Fort la Presentation visitor center, and the connected walking trail, are both important additions to the city’s riverfront development plans and will serve as another magnet to draw tourists.

“It is in the city’s best interest to have another attraction, because what we are trying to do is attract tourists,” Mr. Pinkerton said. “Technically we have one major attraction, and it is the Remington. “The fort did receive a consolidated funding grant last year for a trail, and obviously an interpretive center or something on the grounds would be advantageous.”

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