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Ogdensburg council kills plan for fuel at marina

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OGDENSBURG — Plans to install a marine fuel station at the municipal marina ran out of gas Monday at a City Council committee meeting of the whole.

The plan would have used $1 million, half from a $500,000 Boating Infrastructure Grant the city received from the U.S. Department of the Interior, which stipulated the funds be used to provide a fuel station and transient boat slips at the marina.

The council met to review conceptual plans for the marina expansion, but it was evident that it lacked a consensus to move forward.

“This is not going to be a 2012 project,” said interim City Manager Philip A. Cosmo.

The City Council has stalled on the marina plan for almost a year, sending back designs because of aesthetic and safety concerns. In December, the council tabled plans to add a fueling station and transient boat slips to the marina, dividing sharply along ideological lines.

Deputy Mayor Michael D. Morley argued the fuel station would compete against private business.

“I don’t see the need,” he said. “We have a new gas station down the river, Hosmer is going to open up one and we don’t know what the hotel is going to do.”

Councilman William D. Hosmer, who is planning to offer marine fuel at his marina on the Oswegatchie River, recused himself from the discussion due to conflict of interest.

Councilman Wayne L. Ashley agreed with Mr. Morley.

“These people are paying taxes; we shouldn’t go into business against them,” Mr. Ashley said.

Mr. Ashley also balked at the cost. The city would be required to match federal funding with its own money.

“Our share is $425,000,” he said. “I don’t think this is the time to borrow that and put it on the taxpayers.”

Councilman Daniel E. Skamperle said the city wasn’t prepared to deal with the regulations that come with selling fuel.

“I talk to people who run gas stations and there’s a lot to it,” Mr. Skamperle said. “I agree 100 percent that this is going to be an economic driver for the city, but I don’t want the fuel pumps.”

Ogdensburg will pursue a more modest marina expansion to include transient boat slips for visitors to its waterfront.

“The gas is out; there are three votes against it here,” said Mayor William D. Nelson. “Let’s see what we can do for transient docking and if we can come up with the money for the maintenance we need.”

The council tentatively approved a plan that would add an unspecified number of transient slips on a floating dock extending from the boat launch west of the Dobisky Visitors Center, giving boaters a place to secure their crafts after putting them in the water.

“I think everyone agrees that boat launch out there needs some additional length,” Mr. Cosmo said.

Andrea L. Smith, interim city planner, said she will resubmit the city’s application for the Boating Infrastructure Grant for marina upgrades without the marine fuel station.

“We’re not going to see anything for this season,” she said. “We will resubmit that for ranking. They do want to see more boat slips. The more you have will get it ranked higher.”

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