City officials vote to support Watertown warming shelter

City officials vote to support Watertown warming shelter
Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 5:58 AM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - The Watertown City Council is earmarking $25,000 to help homeless people in the city.

Council members voted 4 to 1 to set that money aside. Mayor Jeff Smith was the lone “no” vote.

It comes as the city attempts to address the growing number of people living on city streets and under the Butler Pavilion at J.B. Wise.

The $25,000 is intended to help staff and maintain the temporary warming center that was set up on Main Avenue during the past weekend’s snowstorm.

The money will not be appropriated from the budget until a decision is made on specifically where it will go.

“So, I think the fact that they are all moved to this shelter then they have no reason to go back to the pavilion because, you know, that is the whole point.” council member Lisa Ruggiero said.

“I know everybody likes to twist things and say ‘well, the mayor doesn’t care.’ That’s not true,” Smith said. “It’s about not duplicating or wasting dollars when we already pay for that service in our county taxes and in our state taxes.

Jefferson County Legislator and Assemblyman-elect Scott Gray, who’s been helping coordinate the new, temporary warming center, said that as of Monday night all the homeless people who had been living under the pavilion have moved to the shelter.

Golf course appraisal

The council also voted 3 to 2 against a resolution calling for a third-party appraisal of the value of Watertown Golf Club’s real estate and equipment.

The resolution would have also had the city manager get the course’s tax returns from the last 3 years.

A majority of the city council is interested in buying the course for $3.4 million.

Only Smith and council member Sarah Compo Pierce voted for the resolution.