Ogdensburg on the hook for $4M instead of $400K for waterfront work

Published: Feb. 21, 2023 at 4:52 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - What was initially planned to cost Ogdensburg close to $400,000 has now jumped ten times to $4.1 million.

It all has to do with the state’s Resiliency & Economic Development Initiative program to help rebuild waterfront communities.

Ogdensburg’s waterfront got hit hard by record-high water in 2017 and 2019. Soon after, the state awarded the city $8 million in REDI money.

It sounded good at the time.

“They initiated the project on the promise that they were going to give us 95 percent and they’re not doing it. They’re not covering 95 percent. I’d like to see more from New York state,” said Ogdensburg City Councillor Dan Skamperle.

With the $8 million price tag, Ogdensburg was expected to kick in $400,000.

Now, that number has jumped to $4.1 million and both local and state officials are not happy.

The higher local amount is because the overall project has jumped to $12.5 million.

State Assemblyman Scott Gray says the REDI Commission can’t pitch in more because the program is no longer funded by New York state and the extra money needed to finish the project has to come from somewhere, so it’ll fall on the local government.

“In terms of the state, the program’s been paid for. So there’s no additional money going into that program,” said Gray (R. - 116th District).

Councillors decided last week to bond for the $4 million, meaning the city will pay the bill over several years. While Skamperle doesn’t like it, he says lawmakers had little choice.

“What, are you going to leave the waterfront torn up? It’s either you finish it and that’s the only way we can possibly think about affording it right now and obviously we are going to look for grant money and things like that, but you can’t just sit there with a waterfront that’s been torn up,” he said.

A big reason for the higher price tag is the cost of labor and supplies has increased.