Historical Society stuck; elevator project short of goal

Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 5:13 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - A project meant to elevate the Jefferson County Historical Society is at a standstill because of financial issues - they’re six figures short of their goal., and working to get the project off the ground.

Inside the Historical Society’s museum on lower Washington Street in Watertown, only a window and wall mark the spot where they hope to soon have an elevator. The elevator would serve the basement and the upper three floors of the building.

“We had budgeted around $340,000 dollars for the elevator,” said Toni Engleman, Executive Director.

It’s supposed to be paid for with a part of the $10 million the city won in Governor Cuomo’s “Hunger Games” competition to fix up downtown. But the society’s executive director says the lowest bid came in at $514,000 dollars, leaving it more than $170,000 short.

“Right now we’re pursuing different avenues to try and make up that gap. We’ve been asking about maybe getting more DRI money, but right now that’s an unknown,” Engleman said. (DRI refers to the $10 million the city got.)

One possible source of a little money: right now, it looks like the new roof going on the building will cost less than expected.

“We had projected it was going to cost around $500,000 dollars and the low bid for that was actually $482,000 dollars,” Engleman said.

She’s looking into whether the left over $18,000 can be used towards the elevator. That might be tricky because the roof project is being funded by other grants. Regardless, the roof project should be completed around the end of July and the museum will be open to the public again - though for the time being, you’ll have to take the stairs.

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