Watertown leaders unhappy with conditions at Butler Pavilion

Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 5:39 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Reports of litter, crime, and now furniture have city leaders unhappy with the conditions at Watertown’s Butler Pavilion.

With its overhead roof and readily accessible bathrooms, the pavilion has recently become a place of refuge for the city’s homeless population. After a sofa, cot, and mattress appeared this week, however, Mayor Jeff Smith says something had to be done.

“I just feel that we should have a more proactive aggressive approach. People want to use this pavilion and other pavilions. They need to be nice, clean so people can feel free to use these in a safe, effective manner,” he said.

Smith tasked City Manager Ken Mix with the furniture’s removal so weekend events won’t be disrupted.

“That’s the Saturday farmers market so we have to have to have it cleaned and cleared out every Saturday morning,” said Mix.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department is responsible for keeping the pavilion clean. According to the department, there has been a lot more of a mess in the past few weeks.

“More people have been using it. First, it started with just overnight, and then it went on to the daytime and actually bringing in furniture,” said Mix.

Mix says there’s also been an uptick in reports of drug use and harassment at the pavilion. Meanwhile, he says Parks and Rec will continue to remove any furniture as it pops up.

As for a long-term solution, Mix says the only viable option is finding a place for the area’s homeless people to stay. Watertown currently has no shelter.

“If there was someplace for them to go other than the pavilion, that would take care of our issue there,” said Mix.

With the weather getting colder, organizations like the Watertown Area Rescue Mission are working to open up shelters in the coming months. It remains to be seen if that will be enough.