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A look inside the Watertown project described as “transformative for the city”

Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 4:17 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - The last time a tour was given through this building, it looked a lot different.

“Seeing what it was before the demolition, it was all those walls and cubicles, and carpeting in place,” said Dave Zembiec, CEO of the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency.

The former call center building on Arsenal Street has been stripped of its past to get ready for its future.

“Now we’re pretty much down to bare floor, bare walls, and basically starting back from scratch to rebuild this the way The Y wants it,” said Zembiec.

JCIDA board members and other county officials got a tour of what will become the YMCA’s new community and aquatic center. The plan was to start construction at the end of 2021, but then came a hurdle no one was expecting.

“It’s not every day that you get into a PCB slab,” said Mike Ramos, the Project Manager with Purcell Construction.

PCB’s are hazardous material that were found underneath thousands of square feet of floor tiles.

It took nearly five months and more than $2.6 million to get rid of.

“As of today, this building is PCB free.”

With this phase of the project officially completed, the JCIDA can now sell the building to the YMCA, which is working through costs before it breaks ground in April.

“We’ve worked on a lot of value engineering to make sure we can get the cost to something that is absolutely feasible to get something like this done,” said Denise Young, CEO of the North Country Family YMCA.

The project includes a seven-lane lap pool, two tennis courts, and an indoor track.

It was originally slated to cost around $18 million, but the pandemic caused costs to jump by another $5 million.

The latest community donation came from Watertown’s New York Airbrake. The company committed $250 thousand toward the project spread out over five years.

“I’ve had this picture in my head for a long time. When I walk through that building, I see the pools, I see the wellness center. I see what it will be versus what it is right now,” said Young.

They’re just one step closer to what many are calling a transformative project for downtown Watertown.

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