Interns aiding in first steps of Ogdensburg redevelopment

July 3, 2009

For the next five weeks, two interns will help the city to kick-start its downtown redevelopment program and update its waterfront management plans.

Grant S. Johnson and John C. Buckholz have been working with Director of Planning and Development J. Justin Woods for the past week, laying the groundwork for the two projects.

"We're using them for a lot of the baseline data collection that can save the city money, rather than hiring consultants," Mr. Woods said.

Mr. Johnson, a Cornell University graduate student studying historic preservation and planning, has been evaluating the age, condition and styles of buildings downtown. 

"He is doing field survey work to assist in getting the Main Street planning process off the ground," Mr. Woods said.

The New York Main Street program helps cities develop economic and marketing strategies to boost troubled downtowns and identifies aging buildings that are eligible for state funds for renovations. The city was awarded a $35,000 grant from the program in March and will soon hire a consultant to develop a revitalization strategy, according to Mr. Woods.

"They've given me more than enough to do," Mr. Johnson said. "At this point, I'm developing how the data is going to be managed, because I want it to be usable after I leave."

Mr. Buckholz is reviewing city maps and policies for managing publicly owned riverfront property. The work begins with updating the city's Local Waterfront Redevelopment Plan, which outlines how the city will manage its marina and develop its shorelines.

"We'll begin advertising for consultants to help us with that, but in the meantime John is beginning work on updating some of that," Mr. Woods said.

The document was last updated in 1999.

"Even in a place like this, lots of things are changing," said Mr. Buckholz, who is a graduate student at the University of Delaware studying public administration and urban planning.

He will also gather city maps from St. Lawrence County Planning Office to create a geographic database and help plan for the "Retooling Ogdensburg for Growth," summit scheduled for August.

Mr. Grant will be paid $3,600 by the city and Cornell University, Ithaca, and Mr. Buckholz will receive $3,000 for his work. The city's portions will be covered by the planning grants, Mr. Woods said.

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