OSWEGO – Amid an apparent flurry of recent news focused primarily on their commercial / industrial projects and the controversy surrounding them, the Oswego Port Authority recently turned its attention to reminding the public of its efforts and recreational and historical mandate.
As part of the New York State Economic Development and Resilience Initiative (REDI), the Oswego Port Authority received $ 1.8 million to create a new marina in the former Goble Graving Dock and Shipyard, West First and Lake Street, with completion scheduled for spring. 2022, according to the port’s executive director, William Scriber.
He shared his thoughts on this project, as well as a bit of history, in a recent interview.
âIt’s going well,â Scriber began. âDue to everything that has happened this year it has been delayed. So we’re not going to have it fully built until late spring 2022. It was a very unusual year for construction projects with a lack of tenders from contractors, materials, etc. We have therefore completed our dredging and bank stabilization phase. , which essentially accounted for over 65% of the project. The most important thing for us was to have the necessary water depth to move forward on a deep water marina there, which is extremely important as our clientele is mainly sailboats and commercial fishermen. We have over 30 commercial fisherman charter companies in our marinas so we like to focus on the deep water aspect of the marinas trade as we are probably close to, if not the only one, the deep water marina. , there’s only a handful on this side of the lake outside of Rochester that can claim that. We say this, not negatively, but during the low water we have had over the past few years our marina has remained open where others were hardly able to operate. They weren’t able to put boats at any depth, and we continued to operate as if nothing had happened with the depth of water we have. It is important to us. It is a goal that we had.
However, this project is not an end in itself. According to Scriber, this is a start.
âI say, the marina is phase one,â he said, âbecause our first phase is doing the 20-25 slides and more, but we have a sequel that we will look to hopefully finish. , by the end of 2022. 2023 to add more slips. What we’re looking to do, we have in our overall plan a long term plan for it. And it revolves around leisure. We own the entire west wharf. What we’re looking to do is integrate the marina into the west wharf to allow more dockage for the boats and bring in what has been missing from Oswego for a number of years, the tall ships.
âThe water and electricity on the west wharf need to be improved. It is a 2023 project of which we already have a draft. We worked with the H. Lee White Museum on this concept. We are issuing a call for tenders in about a month for the reconstruction of the north end of the west wharf. So when this is completed next year, we will consider adding docks and putting water in the facilities to bring in the tall ships. It is an ideal location for tall ships. So that would be a phase.
The west wharf, Scriber said, âstarts right where Sprague Fuel is, and it goes all the way to the lake. This is the whole port of Oswego. That, in fact, theoretically, isn’t even in Oswego, as everything was built by New York State in the 1920s, âhe noted,â the whole attic and two transit sheds. These dockages were built for steamboats to bring grain from Canada and then transport it along the barge canal to New York. Thus, this western wharf, when the Port Authority, from 1955 to 1957, became the Authority, the Canal Authority ceded its ownership of Oswego to the new Authority. So, we inherited the west wharf. The Maritime Museum is actually the former office and scale system building for the original attic. The museum is located in this building. This building was the original granary state canal building that the state canal handed over to the new port authority. So basically the state created the State Authority, the Oswego Port Authority, and transferred its assets to the State Authority, which is us. So, from one Authority to another. This is how they did it.
âSo the Goble Graving Dock,â Scriber continued, âall that stuff out there is owned by the Port Authority. And that’s where we were talking, as we said in our overall plan, we are not trying to industrialize the area but to make it a recreation area. When you look at our law, that’s what we’re supposed to do. It’s not just industrial. It’s recreational and historic. So we’re trying to film that there because obviously the wharf is, with the encroachment of everything around us, the encroachment of the city, we have very little to turn into commercial / industrial here. But there the council sees a very good opportunity for recreational items. And that’s where we look at the tall ships. The marina is the first piece of the puzzle to start moving in that direction. We don’t think of it as just a marina. We see this as the start of a whole development, a recreational tourism development there that will take several years to complete. But we are starting now, because we also intend to move the museum and create a new building there. All of these projects are ongoing. The council thought it was appropriate now to educate people. We had a lot of questions. There’s a sign there that says what we do, but people want to know what we’re doing, and we try to be open and honest in saying that we don’t build advertising there. We are building recreational and historical activities by expanding that. We work regularly with the H. Lee White Museum to turn it all into a recreational / historic area.
âAnd it’s fun,â he said. âWe are doing it for the good of the city and with our own money. The irony here is that the port is not ruled by a fanciful administration. We have a mandate under the act that says we’re supposed to do certain things, and we try to do those things in accordance with our mandate. I mean, it’s the law. So, we’re out there doing these things that we’re trying to get the public to know so that they understand that we’re not this monolithic harbor sitting at the end of Stret Lake. But we’re actually trying to help and do things that are good for the community and the city. Our marina will be right on the driveway leading to downtown. People will be able to dock there and will not need to have a car to get to downtown. It will create direct access to the city’s businesses through the maritime community. Tall ship events bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars to the community. The Port, we don’t make money with that. They cost the port money. But they’re good for the community, and that’s consistent with our mission to do these things. “
Scriber said the port would likely gain “little” from the new marina. There will be a fee for boat slips, but, he said, âthis marina will not be a source of income. We always price our items competitively, and it costs money to keep a marina open and operational for people. Thus, it will employ people and bring more money to the community. A wind turbine project is like 10 years of operating a marina. It’s not what I would consider a huge money maker. My hope is that we break even and pay our expenses and maybe, as I usually do, cash in some money for upgrades and repairs. This is how we operate marinas. We don’t run a marina like private businesses to fund a lot of money. It’s not necessary. As with the Oswego Marina, in the last few years since I’ve been a manager we have spent almost everything in the marina to improve it. And we still have plans there to expand buildings and additional showers and bathrooms. They are expensive and easy to maintain, but they are good for the community. We are increasing the amenities there as well, but not the docks. you just don’t build docks. You build a whole system there, including an office, even a pavilion. We’re building an open-air pavilion there. It won’t be year round, but a lodge where boaters can barbecue and sit there and watch the lake and so on.
The new marina, which is expected to cost $ 1.8 million, according to Scriber, is on schedule. âWe will soon start the construction of the wharf here internally,â he said. âAnd then in the spring, we will stabilize the banks, the concrete footbridges. We will probably start renovating the bathroom during the winter, and hopefully it will be open in late spring.