Legislators vote down funding for Watertown YMCA project

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WATERTOWN — The Jefferson County Board of Legislators on Tuesday voted down funding to renovate the former call center building on Arsenal Street, calling the entire future of the Watertown Family YMCA’s planned aquatic center project into question.

The plan was that the county would provide $880,000 in funding from its $22 million American Rescue Plan Act allocation to the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency, which owns the building.

The $880,000 would be used to rebuild the walls, bathrooms and floors of the building, which was gutted last year to remove dangerous PCB chemicals found underneath the flooring. The IDA would sell the building to the Watertown Family YMCA after the renovations. The YMCA would then begin work on its estimated $27.5 million aquatic center, which would install two large pools inside the building, as well as support, programming and event spaces.

Jefferson County Economic Development CEO David J. Zembiec, who oversees the IDA, said the future of the project now depends on the Watertown Family YMCA’s board of directors.

“They have to vote if they want to move forward with this project or not,” Mr. Zembiec said after Tuesday’s vote.

If the YMCA board decides to move forward, it will have to find another way to finance the repair work. Board representatives could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

If the YMCA board votes to drop the project, then the IDA has several options. It can sell the building as is, with the flooring and lower 4 feet of drywall removed. The building is also without an electric service room, and will require wiring and equipment to be installed to power it. The IDA could also strip even more of the interior structure out of the building to make it more marketable.

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