OGDENSBURG To a casual observer, the Port of Ogdensburg might look empty now that the once-prominent field of wind turbine parts has been trucked to its destination in Churubusco, but appearances certainly can be deceiving.
According to Wade A. Davis, executive director of the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority, the port remains a hotbed of activity.
There have been so many ships, weve had a hard time keeping track, he said. Weve had tour boats checking in, Navy boats, all of the projects associated with the wind project. We have had one or two unexpected outbound vessels. It has been a very busy year.
So busy, in fact, that space is at a premium.
For the third time this year, we are having space constraints at the dock due to multiple ships wanting to come in at the same time, Mr. Davis said. We have two loading positions at the dock, one of which needs to be deepened. It is a sign were getting busier.
Steven J. Lawrence, the OBPAs director of facilities, said storage space, too, is filling up.
The bulk buildings are going to be very active, he said earlier this month. Well be using all the storage space at the port.
Currently, all but one building at the port are occupied some 71 percent of the available space.
The port is continuing its business as a hub for salt shipments, which arrive by ship and are taken out by truck to municipalities around the area. The authority recently completed a deal with Cargill Inc. to store up to 6,000 tons of salt for the season.
At the beginning of the month, 2,100 tons of salt had been shipped out of the port for delivery to towns, Mr. Lawrence said.
In addition, agricultural activity at the port continues to increase. The authority secured a three-year deal with Canadian grain giant Richardson International to ship and store a minimum of 6,000 tons of grain annually. The port is a hub for animal urea, a fertilizer component, and citrus pulp, a filler for animal feed.
This year, the port became a stopover for inland cruise ships from the Great Lakes Cruise Co. Though passengers do not disembark in Ogdensburg, they clear customs for entry into Canada at the port as ships continue up the St. Lawrence Seaway to Montreal.
This port is alive. There are things happening down there, said Samuel J. LaMacchia, authority chairman.
The last part of the Marble River Wind Farm project, returning unused parts to Montreal by ship, will be completed next week, Mr. Davis said.
Though the OBPA is continuing to crunch the numbers for the five-month-long wind turbine project, the port already has reaped the benefits. Through Sept. 30, the port generated almost $1.55 million in operating income, three times the budgeted amount of $500,000. Though the windfall will be offset somewhat by additional payroll costs, the authority is celebrating a remarkably successful shipping season.
Mr. Davis said the increased business will aid the authoritys case for dredging the St. Lawrence River facility. The Army Corps of Engineers is conducting a study to determine whether dredging the approaches to the port is warranted and feasible.
It has definitely been a busy year, he said. It helps make a case to the Army Corps of Engineers that were relevant and we need additional funding.
In the meantime, the OBPA is continuing to court other large port projects for coming seasons while hoping federal and state policies remain conducive to business.