watertown

Watertown Common Council members voted unanimously Tuesday night allowing the Watertown Redevelopment Authority to purchase the Watertown Daily Times properties.

Although two aldermen -- Rick Tortomasi and Steve Zgonc -- were absent from the meeting the remaining council members voted 7-0 unanimously approving the purchase without any discussion.

Under terms of the agreement, the Daily Times will be paid $400,000 for the properties and also $265,000 in relocation costs for a total of $665,000.

Funding for the purchase will come from the tax incremental financing district (a TIF is a public financing method that is used as a subsidy for redevelopment, infrastructure and other community-improvement projects) money which has been set aside for this purpose.

The Daily Times property is the third on the south side of the 100 block of West Main Street to be acquired by the RDA. Three other properties remain to be purchased and negotiations with each of those property owners are currently underway.

The RDA's long-term plan is to acquire all properties in that block and have them razed and redeveloped into a large commons area along the river and also a boutique kind of hotel. Both projects are part of an overall redevelopment plan pursued by the RDA.

The Times has not committed to a new location but is in discussions on various options. Any move by the Times to a new location would likely not come until next year. The move will be dependent on finding a new location and also the redevelopment time line to be established by the RDA.

The lone ordinance on the council's agenda passed. That ordinance allows continued operation of existing boarding houses in the downtown area, although new ones would be prohibited under a new ordinance that was recently approved by the council.

Council members agreed to purchase a small parcel of land along Carriage Hill Drive from the estate of Emory Baumann for the extension of a bicycle/walking path along that street. The purchase price is $500 plus any taxes owed.

In other business, the council authorized the construction of a fueling island canopy at the street department property at a contract price of $26,547, approved the spending of $2,300 for advertising in the city resources guide, agreed to contracts for the police liaison officer for Watertown High School and Watertown's Riverside Middle School for the next school year and also a truancy abatement officer contract for the school district; and approved the re-appointment of Jonathan Lampe to the Watertown Library Board.

Also, acting on advice from legal counsel, Watertown Common Council members rejected two claims against the city. One is a fall a person took on a city sidewalk and the other is damages to Watertown Square development at Church and Bernard streets, which the owners claim had occurred during hydrant flushing in the area. The city claimed no responsibility in either case.

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