Reopening Ogdensburg beach makes waves at city hall

Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 3:00 PM EDT
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OGDENSBURG, N.Y. (WWNY) - They say it’s like having sand thrown in their face. Their opponents say it’s just “them” trying to hinder things. The effort to re-open the Ogdensburg beach is making waves at city council.

Everyone wants the Ogdensburg city beach to re-open. It closed two decades ago. But, how it’s getting done is a point of contention. That includes a resolution to spend up to $50,000 on it. It was approved on a contentious 4-to-3 vote last week.

“I’m all in favor of supporting a beach, but I’m not going to allow this guy to have a blanket lease to operate without a net,” said Michael Powers, Ogdensburg city councilor.

Powers said Mayor Mike Skelly and his allies violated parliamentary procedure. But when he and his side asked for a ruling, there was none. They say there would have been if Skelly would have the city attorney attend council meetings.

“I would like to have an attorney’s opinion and according to the charter, the attorney should be present,” said Dan Skamperle, Ogdensburg city councilor.

Both sides agree the charter calls for the attorney to be at meetings. But Mayor Skelly says he’s not needed.

“If you like paying lawyer fees for two or three hours or more to have him sit there. … I’m not for it,” he said.

Powers says it wouldn’t cost anything because the lawyer is paid a retainer.

City Manager Stephen Jellie says that’s not true; a per-hour fee has to be paid. He also says the practice of not having the city attorney at all meetings actually started under the previous administration.

There’s a big ‘if’ in the reopening of the city beach. It can only reopen if the New York State Health Department gives it a clean bill of health.

Meanwhile, the city’s Department of Public Works is moving ahead with preparations. City council is to vote on a final budget for the beach later this month.

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