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Ogdensburg sets public hearing on school zone speed

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The public will have a chance to weigh in on a proposal to raise the speed limits in some sections of the city where two former schools are located.

City officials have set a public hearing at 7 p.m. on Aug. 11 at City Hall, 330 Ford St., to discuss eliminating the existing 20 miles per hour speed limit along several streets bordering the former Lincoln Elementary School and St. Marguerite D’Youville Academy. Both schools were closed earlier this year.

St. Marguerite D’Youville Academy announced in March that it would be not be reopening in the fall because of declining enrollment.

Likewise, the Ogdensburg City School District closed Lincoln School at the end of June because students who had attended that school will now be accommodated at the recently expanded Kennedy Elementary School.

City Councilwoman Jennifer Stevenson said she will wait to hear from the public Aug. 11 before officially making a decision on whether to raise the speed limits in the former school zones, although she said at this point she is an advocate of having “consistent speeds throughout the city.”

Councilmen Michael D. Morley and Wayne L. Ashley said they see no reason to keep the neighborhood speed limits posted at 20 mph, because there are no longer children being picked up and dropped off at the former schools.

“I have the opinion that they aren’t necessary anymore because they aren’t school districts anymore,” Mr. Ashley said. “I see absolutely no reason to have them at 20 miles per hour.”

Following the Aug. 11 public hearing the City Council is slated to vote on the proposed change. If the change is approved, city officials say they new ordinance will take effect 10 days later.

In addition to potentially adjusting the speed limits near the former schools, city officials are also looking at the possibility of rezoning some sections of the city where now abandoned school buildings are located to make the properties easier to develop. Ogdensburg Planning and Development Director Andrea L. Smith received approval from City Council earlier this month to explore the creation of a so-called “institutional zone” that could be applied in neighborhoods with former schools, churches and to other facilities considered “non-conforming uses” in mixed-use and residential neighborhoods.

The Ogdensburg City School District is currently in the process of selling its Lincoln school building and 2.2 acre campus. Thursday is the final day for submitting bids on the property and applications are available at the district’s main office, according to officials.

The district has already sold its former Sherman Elementary School to a private developer who is turning the facility into a bed and breakfast, coffee shop and community center.

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