Grant Helping Watertown Connect Downtown And Black River

2019-03-14 | Watertown Daily Times

March 14-- Mar. 14--WATERTOWN -- Making it easier to cross the Black River Parkway, creating a turnaround circle at Arch Street, installing new sidewalks, brick pavers and lights are some of the ways to better connect downtown with the Black River.

About 15 people met on Wednesday night to find out about what kinds of things can be done to connect downtown with the city's river parks.

A state grant is paying for the study that Saratoga Associates and Behan Planning and Design, both from Saratoga Springs, are completing.

Jennifer Voss, the city's senior planner, said it's the first time that the city is taking a comprehensive look at the river district.

"This is a framework of what this can be," said John J. Behan, principal of Behan Design.

The district starts at Public Square, down to the Veteran's Memorial Riverwalk, then over to Newell Street and goes on to Engine Street.

It's the second time that folks got together to talk about the feasibility study. A committee of business leaders and community members was formed months ago to work on the project.

Mr. Behan said that the hope is to create excitement along the river.

"Take me to the River" -- sort of an ode to the Talking Heads song -- is the group's mantra, he said.

Local artist Kathleen Mereand told the consultants that it's important to do something about helping pedestrians cross Black River Parkway, citing the speed of the traffic.

But a series of brick pavers along that section, near the JB Wise Parking lot, could solve the problem, consultant Emily L. Gardner said. Motorists would be more aware of pedestrians trying to get to the river, she said.

To give the feeling it's one big area, the same style of lighting, brick pavers, sidewalks and other amenities would be used throughout the river district, she said.

The group will put together a final report and design, and identify potential projects.

The feasibility study is funded by a Strategic Planning and Feasibility Studies grant from the state Department of State.

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