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Ogdensburg approves grants, housing questions remain

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OGDENSBURG — The city will submit applications for state and federal grants, but it is still unclear who will administer the city’s housing rehabilitation program.

At its Monday meeting, the City Council approved an application for a state of New York Consolidated Funding grant application to work on updates to the zoning code and to develop signage along designated streets and waterways.

If the city receives funding, interim City Planner Andrea Smith will seek a consultant to help develop design standards for new construction on Ogdensburg’s waterfront.

“We are looking at ways of creating a certain aesthetic along our waterfront,” she said. “Right now the city is required to review portions of the zoning code for the Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan.”

Ms. Smith said the zoning changes would not apply to existing permitted uses of property. The grant would also help design signs to guide the public to city amenities.

“Right now the planning department is working with Parks and Recreation for signage for the visitor center and the marina,” she said. “Improving signage ranked the highest in public input on things we could do immediately.”

The city may ask for up to $35,000 and is required to give a 50 percent match to the grant, either with money or in-kind services.

The council also set two public hearings for the city’s Community Development Block Grants, money that would go to the housing rehabilitation program.

Ms. Smith said the applications were due in August, not July as the council had previously been told.

“I told the council it was due by July,” said Ms. Smith. “I have to take responsibility for this.”

In May, council members gave the housing rehabilitation a vote of confidence after being told by its housing administrator, C. W. Augustine of DeKalb Junction, that it was necessary before a July deadline for the applications, leaving them no time to reconsider the direction of the housing program.

“Our housing administrator told us it was due July 16,” said Councilman William D. Hosmer. “So we were deceived — not by you — again.”

Mr. Hosmer is among a majority of council members who wish to end Ogdensburg’s relationship with C. W. Augustine.

In the meantime, interim City Manager Philip A. Cosmo is working on a request for proposals for a new housing administrator.

“We’re talking with the county to see what they’re using,” he said.

Mayor William D. Nelson is already considering alternatives should C.W. Augustine prove unable to write and administer Ogdensburg’s grants.

“I called the Development Authority of the North Country and they offered their assistance with our CDBG applications,” he said. “If things don’t work out, we’re going to use that option.”

The council scheduled the public hearings for 10 a.m. July 20 and 7 p.m. July 30 in its chambers.

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