Watertown looks to improve its riverfront

Watertown riverfront

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - It’s the first look as Watertown rethinks it’s riverfront. Changes could be coming along the property that follows along the Black River through the heart of downtown.

The city just got back a feasibility study; $5 million of ideas concentrating on Watertown’s waterfront and how to attract more people downtown and to the Black River.

One of the biggest and coolest changes would be covering a concrete retaining wall with murals from local artists.

Watertown spent 60 thousand dollars of state and city money to determine ways to make the Black River waterfront better.

“The idea is to draw people from Public Square down to the river walk,” said Jennifer Voss, senior city planner.

“And in order to do that, we also want the pedestrians to feel safe and we want it to look beautiful,” said Voss.

Some of the ideas include; trimming vegetation that blocks the view of the river, adding another picnic area in this space under the court street bridge, burying Newell Street utility lines underground, along with fixing up the sidewalks and the retaining wall that spans the walk.

“We thought about, what if we enhance this wall by getting an artist of some kind or a community group to do some paintings,” said Voss.

Safety improvements include turning Arch Street into a pedestrian-only walkway, connecting the J.B. Wise Parking Lot to the riverwalk and transitioning Howk Street into a one-way road.

Howk Street is home to Garland City Beerworks and Maggie’s on the River.

Jason Price, the general manager of Maggie’s, says that won’t be a problem.

“It’s considered a one way right now the way it is, so making it a one-way would be an improvement for here,” said Price.

The proposed upgrades stretch from Maggie’s down to Adirondack River Outfitters. Workers there say it’ll bring in more foot traffic and get more people interested in their rafting services.

“If more people from Watertown are coming by and see big groups of people rafting and having a good time, the chances of local people going rafting is much higher,” said Kelsey Kiefer, an Adirondack River Outfitters employee.

As for when you’ll start seeing these changes, Voss, says the city couldn’t afford to do everything at once.

“So were phasing it so this first round of implementation we applied for $400,000 worth of grant funds to pay for it,” said Voss.

She says they’ll know if the city secured that grant at the end of this year.

If it does, construction can start next summer.

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