The old village hall, located at 113 Main Street, has sat
unused since the summer of 2008 when all staff moved into the new village hall
on Parkers Mill.
It’s one of three buildings in downtown Oswego is being targeted as a site for redevelopment – the others Alexander Lumber Co. and the old firehouse.
And on Tuesday night the Village board discussed what was to be done with it.
Several suggestions were proposed in documents put together by village planner Kasey Evans, which included leaving it as is, sell it as is, demolish the site or to redevelop it.
Representative of the Oswego Historic Preservation Commission Ron Elvin spoke to the board on the historical value of the building.
“It is not our intent to keep every old building,” he prefaced his speech. However, the old village hall is considered a building contributing to the architectural makeup of downtown, from a study done in 2009.
“We feel it is important tot keep and repurpose whenever possible,” said Elvin. “Bulldozing a building may be the easiest and cheapest… but once it’s gone you can’t bring it back.”
But taking it down may be in the future plans.
As presented by village community development director Rod Zenner, the Village owns a large portion of the property in the block bound by Washington, Adams and Main Streets.
Six alternate plans were put together, depending on how much property the Village decided to redo and if local businesses in that block wished to participate, that developed a cohesive downtown building plan for the block.
Plan no. 6, pictured above, incorporates all buildings on that block except the Firehouse Pizza and Pub. The restaurant is under a lease to buy agreement with the Village, explained Village Administrator Steve Jones, and the Village did not include it in any potential plans.
The redevelopment plan calls for buildings up to four stories high.
And what would the new buildings be used for?
Village president Brian LeClercq suggested that they actually not be just about retail. “I think this might be an area where we need to look at it for a more professional office,” said LeClercq. He suggested retail or restaurants on the first floor, offices on the second and residential on the third.
But for the retail he said, “We’re not looking for an 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday – Friday and then the curtains roll down and everyone’s gone.”
Trustee Gail Johnson said she was not sure they had enough information yet, but was interested by the plans. She also added that she didn’t want any of the businesses in that block to feel forced to redevelop. “We don’t want to say you have to go along to get along. That’s a concern.”
Trustee Scott Volpe thought the Village owns enough property in that section that there was no reason why the Village couldn’t at least begin to look at redeveloping those.
And what does all this mean for old village hall?
Both Elvin and LeClercq commented on how bad it is inside the building and there is nothing significant to save.
“The exterior is what’s significant,” said LeClercq. “Is there a way we can use some of the old building’s bricks?”
Johnson asked Elvin and the HPC to find some viable options for the building other than preserving it as is. “There are big issues with it… If we take away saving the whole building, what options are there?”
You can view all of the alternate plans for the block on the Village website.