Residents Share Opinions On Revitalizing Watertown's Downtown

Residents Share Opinions On Revitalizing Watertown's Downtown

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For the first time, the floor opened for Watertown residents to speak up about what projects they want to transform downtown.

The committee planning how to spend $10 million from the state to revitalize downtown Watertown held an open house at the former Empsall Building Wednesday night.

Karleen Savidge has lived in Watertown most of her life. She says she wants downtown to do better.

"It was heartbreaking back in the day when everything left downtown and went to the mall," she said, "so I would like to see as much as possible come back."

At Wednesday night's open house, the planning committee set up a sticker system where residents have six stickers they could use to show what projects they like the most.

The committee says this will help them decide which projects get state funding.

One of the most popular projects Wednesday night is an aquatic, racquet and wellness center. The project would cost $14 million dollars. If chosen, it would receive an estimated $2 million of the $10 million.

"If we've got a glass-walled YMCA where people are swimming on one side, seeing the river, we're having people out on the trails running and walking right out our back door," said Denise Young, who's CEO of the Watertown Family YMCA.

The unofficial poll will be a useful tool for the consultant team narrowing down what projects get selected.

"Now, we're presenting it out to the public to say, 'This is what we heard in November,' said Elan Planning principal Lisa Nagle, "'these are the projects that were submitted, this is the evaluation process that's happened over the last couple of months,' and so now, people can put a green dot under what their priority projects are." 

The planning committee will decide by March 15 what projects the $10 million will pay for.

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