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Ogdensburg officials to dedicate scenic park to Robert Bjork

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OGDENSBURG — Officials will dedicate a small picturesque plot of land Saturday as the Robert R. Bjork Park during a ceremony that will cap the completion of a years-long, $2.5 million project that involved the demolition of the former Lake Street Bridge over the Oswegatchie River and the construction of a new pedestrian walkway linking to the city’s Maple City Trail.

Andrea L. Smith, city director of planning and development, said the dedication marks the final chapter in a long-running city initiative that began when the former 117-year-old Lake Street bridge over the Oswegatchie River that was closed to traffic in 1979 because of safety concerns. For years afterward the bridge carried only pedestrians across the Oswegatchie, until in 2005 an underwater inspection of the piers holding the span proved even that use to be unsafe.

In 2010, Ogdensburg received a $2.5 million state grant that paved the way for the demolition of the bridge, and the construction 50 feet away of a new pedestrian walkway traversing the Oswegatchie, and linking to the city’s Maple City Trail, according to Ms. Smith.

The park to be dedicated to Mr. Bjork on Saturday is only a quarter acre in size, but from the eastern side of the Oswegatchie River it offers a picture-postcard view of the river, the Maple City Trail winding along its shore and the boat-filled Hosmer’s Marina on the opposite bank. Two benches at the green space provide a perfect respite for hikers of the 4-mile-long trail to stop, relax and take in the scenery.

Ms. Smith said the park is being named after Mr. Bjork, a now-deceased city resident who was instrumental in organizing volunteers to help beautify and landscape property along the Oswegatchie River.

“He helped beautify that area,” Ms. Smith said. “And to help carry on his mission the City Council has decided that that portion of land near the bridge should be named after him.”

Saturday’s dedication of the Bjork Park will take place at 9 a.m., according to Ms. Smith. She said the event is expected to be attended by members of the Bjork family as well as city and state officials.

Saturday’s Bjork Park dedication will mark the final stage of a city and state project that has taken years to complete. In 2012, a pair of 400-ton cranes lifted a section of the Lake Street Bridge and moved it over about 50 feet. That old iron portion of the bridge would be reused by engineers and become what is today’s Maple City Trail footbridge over the Oswegatchie.

The remaining span, used by motorists until the end of the 1970s, was demolished.

The new Bjork Park sits on the east side of the Oswegatchie River, in a location where the old Lake Street Bridge used to join with part of downtown.

In addition to a sign naming the green space, there is a large ship’s anchor at the site, donated by the Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad. Ms. Smith said the anchor is part of a nautical theme settled on by state and city officials involved with the project that ties in with Ogdensburg’s maritime history as a shipping port along the St. Lawrence River.

“The rescue squad donated the anchor and the posts were donated by the power company. This has been a real community effort,” Ms. Smith said.

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