OSWEGO, NEW YORK, US — The City of Oswego has filed a lawsuit against the Oswego Port Authority regarding the sudden construction of a large grain storage facility. City officials claim the Oswego Port Authority did not go through the proper approval process to construct a facility, which, if built, would block the view of the lighthouse from multiple popular vantage points and destroy the viewshed from the east side of the city.
“As a result of the Port Authority’s continued arrogance and incompetence, the City of Oswego has no choice but to proceed with our lawsuit,” said Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow. “The people of Oswego are extremely disappointed, and I intend to work on their behalf to do all I can to stop this absurd project.
“The Port Authority Board, executive director and hired design consultants did not go through proper protocols to build this structure and we fully intend to highlight the flaws in their plan, the misinformation they’ve disseminated and the deception they’ve orchestrated on their own community.”
Construction of the storage facility was supposed to be halted earlier this month while the Oswego Port Authority reviewed other design alternatives to avoid the destruction of the viewshed. At that time, Barlow said he would wait to make a decision on proceeding with a lawsuit until the Port provided its potential design alternatives. But according to the City of Oswego, the Oswego Port Authority didn’t provide any design alternatives and never really stopped construction on the site.
“I am hardly surprised that after a very brief pause, if any, the Oswego Port Authority has managed to develop no new ideas, no solutions and has determined there is no alternative to the massive structure currently under construction,” Barlow said. “The Port Authority’s lack of creativity and transparency, coupled with an inability to adapt to the concerns raised by their neighbors is disappointing. I question the Port’s sincerity in taking an honest look at alternative designs and options.”
The Port of Oswego is the first U.S. port of call and deepwater port on the Great Lakes from the St. Lawrence Seaway. Located on Lake Ontario on route to the interior of North America, the port is accessible from any international port in the world.
William Scriber, executive director of the Port of Oswego, has not responded to the city’s lawsuit, but said in late June that construction and plans for the new grain storage building have been public for more than a year and the Port of Oswego Authority has been entirely transparent in sharing its plans.
“The state DOT announced this project more than a year ago, and the Mayor of Oswego was briefed on the project in February 2019,” Scriber said. “In a November 2019 press release from the state on the port’s expansion project, the mayor was quoted: ‘I’m thrilled to see Governor Cuomo and the State of New York place such a focus and make a sizeable investment in the Port of Oswego. The Port of Oswego is a major economic driver to the Oswego community and this investment will ensure continued growth and expansion in the future.’
“As a state authority we went through all legal channels and posted information on this and other projects on our website and our social media in advance. This storage unit has to hold 14,000 metric tons of product and be accessible to be loaded from a ship. The Port of Oswego Authority is committed to the economic betterment of Oswego, Oswego County and the region. We recently announced studies and plans that are proceeding on a performing arts center, and we’re working cooperatively with the H. Lee White Museum to build a beautiful, new museum.
“Oswego is the Port City. The city is here because the Port was here. Our success is the city’s success and the region’s success.”