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Ogdensburg mayor has high hopes for waterfront, airport in 2014

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The year 2013 ended on an upbeat note for the city of Ogdensburg, and Mayor William D. Nelson hopes 2014 sees more of the same. The mayor is planning a year of action for the waterfront redevelopment plan.

“Redevelopment of the waterfront, particularly the sites we identified as priorities, Diamond International, Standard Shade Roller and the former Alliance Marina property, will be a priority in 2014,” he said. “We will be seeking funding sources for items such as infrastructure to facilitate the development of these properties.”

Requests for redevelopment proposals will go out later this year.

The mayor said the city is ready to help the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority’s planned $10 million expansion at Ogdensburg International Airport to potentially bring in 40,000 additional air passengers a year.

“We had future growth in mind when we replaced the Lake Street pedestrian bridge in the marina district and installed a larger water main to accommodate growth on the east side of the city and to points beyond,” Mr. Nelson said.

The $10 million expansion at the airport is no different.

“The airport is an important tool for economic development,” the mayor said. “When businesses look to expand, having access to reliable air service is important.”

Mr. Nelson said he hopes good news received at the tail end of 2013 bodes well for the coming year.

Last month, the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center appeared headed for a crippling downsizing, its key inpatient services slated to be sent to downstate hospitals later this year.

But an 11th-hour meeting in Albany last month between state officials and members of a local psychiatric center task force offered a glimmer of hope.

The mayor was a member of the task force.

“I was cautiously optimistic,” he recalled. “The task force had done an outstanding job researching and demonstrating the strengths of the psychiatric center. We expressed the reality of why these services needed to be kept in the north country. Our task force was well prepared from every aspect of need, from the professionals, the community, the universities, the organizations, and most importantly, the consumers of the services and their families.”

When Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo appeared unexpectedly at the meeting, the glimmer got bigger and brighter.

“When Governor Cuomo appeared in person, my first instinct was, great we can make our presentation first hand to the governor,” Mr. Nelson said. “I felt this would have a greater impact, him hearing our presentation directly from the task force members.”

It did. Mr. Cuomo spared the psychiatric center.

“The program outlined by the governor strengthens the psychiatric center and provides for much-needed community-based services,” Mr. Nelson said.

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