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Ogdensburg receives street improvement grant

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OGDENSBURG — The city’s mean streets will become a little more pedestrian friendly thanks to a grant from the St. Lawrence County Health Initiative.

The city received $7,500 for a “complete streets” initiative. The grant requires a match from the city, which will be paid through in-kind work, said Andrea L. Smith, director of planning and development.

“We are going to develop one of the deliverables, a complete streets policy,” she said. “The other portion will be through the actual implementation work utilizing our Department of Public Works.”

Complete streets are designed for access by all potential users, not just automobiles. Street design keeps pedestrians, cyclists and public transportation options in mind. Future construction and development in the city will have to incorporate the new policy.

“One of the focuses of the grant is to look at complete streets through a specific lens of traffic calming and how traffic calming combined with complete streets can lead to increased physical activity,” Ms. Smith said.

The city will improve intersections and sidewalks in the Marina District on the west bank of the Oswegatchie River. Many streets in that area now lack sidewalks, crosswalks, lane markings and signs.

“We are focusing on two main intersections — New York Avenue and West River Street, and West River Street at Lake Street and East River Street,” Ms. Smith said.

She said she hoped that focusing on the Marina District would continue momentum toward economic development. In recent months, Ogdensburg has completed a Main Street grant program that paid for upgrades to building facades in the district. The city also celebrated the completion and opening of the Lake Street pedestrian bridge last fall.

Part of the grant will fund the completion of 300 feet of sidewalk near the Richard G. Lockwood Civic Center, completing sidewalks from the pedestrian bridge to the arena and New York Avenue.

Pedestrian-friendly streets strongly correlate to a better business climate, Ms. Smith said.

“Complete streets, or streets as places, have been tied directly with increased economic development and economic diversity, really creating and enhancing the aesthetics of streets as places within themselves,” she said.

Though the city has a limited tool kit to lure private developers to the area, it can do a lot working with public property, Ms. Smith said.

“One of the things the city can move on is the improvement of the public area,” she said. “Improving the streets and the sidewalks is something we can do now to improve the aesthetics and character of the area and to encourage additional reinvestment in that area.”

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