Lawmakers Weigh In On Masonic Building Future

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"It's a sad situation because it is a historic building. It's a beautiful building.  It's a signature building," said Watertown City Councilwoman Roxanne Burns.

Burns is talking about the former Masonic Temple in downtown Watertown.

Despite owner Garrett McCarthy's best laid plans, it looks like the city may be about to take control of the building.

That's if McCarthy can't come up with roughly $23,000 in back taxes by June 24.

If he can't, the aging building becomes the city's problem.

"We can't afford to renovate that building, or we would have done it before now," said Councilwoman Teresa Macaluso. "Even if the funds were there for the rehab of the building, the maintenance and the utility costs with that would be astronomical."

If the city does take possesion of the building, is tearing it down an option?

"That certainly will become an option as time goes on and the building continues to deteriorate and becomes a hazard," said Burns.

But, there may still be hope in the form of other deteriorating but historic downtown buildings: Woolworth and Lincoln.

"Who would have thought the Woolworth building would have been something that somebody would look at - two different developers would look at - and decide they can develop it," said Macaluso.

For his part, McCarthy still thinks the Masonic Temple will be saved, too.

He's trying to find investors to make sure demolition never becomes an option.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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