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Watertown council candidates weigh in on zoo and hydro power

Updated: Oct. 23, 2019 at 4:52 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - There are pressing issues in the city of Watertown and we wanted answers from the people looking to sit in the Watertown City Council chambers next year.

In 2030, the city of Watertown will be short $4 to $6 million per year in revenue. That’s because its contract to sell hydroelectric power to National Grid will expire. What should the city do? Watertown City Council candidate Jesse Roshia says it’s time to save.

"I think we need to be proactive and start setting some money aside to be able to make it so that when those costs hit us they are not as severe as they should right now," he said.

One of Roshia's opponents, Patrick Hickey, says allocate the money elsewhere while we have it and invest on the future.

"Split up, let's do $2 million back in the general fund, a million into our reserve fund to take care of the expenses of the park pool, and the balance, a million plus, would go into a fund to reduce our carbon footprint, improve the power consumption that we have in all of our city buildings," said Hickey.

Similarly, current Council Member Sarah Compo says, "Now is the time to start putting money away so when that contract does expire, we don't feel the impact so significantly."

And candidate Robert Schorr say, "It's a very hard question to answer and I do not believe anybody has the golden answer to that."

In terms of the Thompson Park Zoo and spending money to keep it running, they all agree on one thing.

"I would never go on record and say I would prepare to let the zoo close. I think the zoo is a treasure," said Roshia.

“I am definitely not in favor of the zoo closing,” said Hickey.

"I would not like to see the zoo close," said Schorr.

"I definitely do not think that we can let the Thompson Park Zoo close," said Compo.

The four council candidates each say the city should step up and support the zoo and come up with a plan to help the zoo become sustainable on its own.

On Thursday, we’ll ask each of the candidates two more questions.

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