Watertown’s Sewall’s Island ready for redevelopment

wwny Watertown’s Sewall’s Island ready for redevelopment

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Watertown owns about 20 acres of land on Sewall's Island, 10 of which can be re-developed. City officials are envisioning what could become of what they call a prime piece of riverfront property.

They want to redevelop the land into both recreation and commercial spaces.

"It's taken a long time, but we're excited that it's taking us to the next chapter," said Mike Lumbis, Watertown city planner.

After 10 years, Sewall's Island is ready for development.

The $1.5 million cleanup of industrial waste and brush spanning 20 acres is complete and Lumbis sees room for potential on half of that land.

"Those railroad bridges would be converted to pedestrian use. There'd be a trail system that would tie into the larger regional trail system, part of the Black River Trail," he said.

Lumbis says maximizing use of the Black River is high on the list and he hopes for commercial businesses to move in, although it's too soon to tell what those might be.

Back in the 1940s, Sewall’s Island was an industrial hot spot, filled with traffic and business.

But, the Black Clawson plant burned down in March, 1999, (there was a second major fire at the site in 2005), which left a gaping hole on the site.

"We're looking to finally getting where we're seeing some shovels on the ground and back into productive use for the citizens of the city," said Lumbis.

Although the cleanup is over, Lumbis expects it could be a year or two before the site starts to look different.

"It takes some time. Good projects do take time; we think this is a good project. Eventually, it's going to provide a lot of benefits to the city," he said.

Lumbis says the city will soon hire a consultant to come up with ideas on how the land can be developed and ways to secure the funding.

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