Letter details Ogdensburg's stance on building demos at St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center

Aug. 29—OGDENSBURG — The city has sent a letter to the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York making its stance known regarding the proposed demolition of 10 dilapidated buildings at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center.

The letter, approved by City Council Monday night, states that the city had no objection to DASNY acting as the lead agency for the project as part of the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR).

Signed by interim City Manager Andrea L. Smith, the letter makes five comments on the demolition project that is centered around 10 buildings in the historic Letchworth Complex. The letter was written with involvement from city councilors.

"Thank you council and Andrea (Smith) for the letter that's going to accompany this (resolution). It makes a lot of good points," said Councilor John A. Rishe. "I applaud the council."

The first comment requests that if DASNY considers additional building demolition, as it had previously stated, that "high priority be given to building numbers 86, 58, and 38 all located along State Route 37, a designated scenic byway."

"Building number 58 has collapsed, but the debris has never been removed contributing to visible blight at the entrance to the campus," the letter states.

The city also continues to be interested in acquiring the surplus lands referred to as "Parcel A" and compels "DASNY to prioritize demolition of the blighted structures and complete the transfer of this surplus property to the City of Ogdensburg."

The city commented that DASNY should also collaborate with the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to complete an inventory and analysis and building conditions report of the remaining buildings across the psychiatric center campus to "identify which buildings are eligible for listing on the State and National Register for Historic Places, and which are beyond reasonable repair and suitable for future demolition."

Efforts are also needed to preserve buildings on the campus to prevent further deterioration so "that the architectural, historical and cultural accomplishments of the campus can be shared with future generations," the letter states.

Those buildings are listed as the former administrative building (building 7), the director's residence (building 1), the morgue (building 25), and chapel (building 26).

The last comment provided by the city was a request to salvage materials, both the exterior stone and any interior finishes "that can be safely isolated from potential asbestos contamination."

"Salvage of material will reduce waste transported to landfills that can be reused in the local economy and or preserved for historical interpretation," the letter concluded.