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Thompson Park clubhouse opens May 1

in Place 443 views

When he was about 12 years old, David J. Marconi went golfing at the former Watertown Golf Club with his grandfather and then they usually headed over to the clubhouse for a sandwich and a soda.

All these years later, he’s returning to the golf course where he fell in love with the sport. He and his wife, Nicole, are running the clubhouse at Thompson Park Golf Club.

It’s bringing back those memories of spending time with his grandfather, Nazareno, who passed away in 2014 at the age of 81.

“I grew up playing there, playing with him,” Marconi said. “It was the first year I was a member.”

At one point, he played, practiced and did something golf related every day, becoming a scratch golfer. He’s currently a two handicapper.

A longtime member of the course, Marconi joined the Thompson Park Golf Course last season — the first year the city took over the entire 18-hole course from developer Michael E. Lundy.

And now he’s embarking on a new chapter of his life at the historic golf course, opening up DJ’s at the Park this Wednesday.

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Thompson Park Golf Course opens for the season Monday

in Sports 384 views

Get the golf clubs out of the garage and get ready for the season.

The Thompson Park Golf Course opens on Monday.

With so much rain during the last two weeks, only nine holes will be ready for Monday’s opening, with the other nine by May 1, golf course Manager Jordan Northrop said.

“The rain definitely put us behind,” he said, “so this week we have to get it mowed.”

It’s the second year that the city will run the 18-hole course in Thompson Park after buying 63 acres for $3.4 million from Michael E. Lundy in 2023.

For months last year, the $3.4 million price tag divided the community, caused heated debate among City Council members and produced lots of headlines.

But that was last year.

“I think the controversy is behind us,” Northrop said, stressing he’s optimistic for the season.

The golf course has signed up 16 tournaments, up from nine. Calling it “a lofty goal,” he’s targeted 200 memberships, an increase from 171.

“I think this is going to be a cultural change year,” he said.

Initially, local golfers didn’t know what to expect last year after there was so much angst and turmoil. That might have kept some of them away, he said.

As the season went on last year, golfers heard there was a change in atmosphere at the golf course. Staff made it a focus to know members by name and to greet them, Northrop said.

“It felt more like a country club,” said Taylor LaVere, the assistant golf course manager.

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Zoo New York’s reopening turns out to be perfect timing

in Animals/Enviroment/Place 421 views

Zoo New York’s reopening this weekend turned out to be perfect timing for families looking for something to do outside on another pleasant February day.

The zoo in Thompson Park will be open every weekend from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and for the full week of the school winter break, Feb. 19 to 23, with the same hours.

After a few early showers Saturday, the clouds parted, and 68 visitors passed through the doors.

Some were regulars, glad to have another visit with their animal friends after uncertain times.

Lisa Tyo, Watertown, was upset when she heard the news that the zoo was closing back in October.

“We were very disappointed. I have three grandchildren and another one on the way. We planned to bring them here, so we were really disappointed,” she said.

She was equally as happy to find that it would be opening back up.

“We are glad it’s opening, even for shortened hours on the weekend, so we were excited to come today,” Tyo said.

She brought her grandson, Rory Howard, who was dressed in ninja turtle attire.

“We saw some awesome animals,” Howard said. “We saw fishes, two turtles, and otters.” Rory’s favorite exhibit was the wolves.

Those wolves, along with the other animals, put on a good show for Rory and his grandmother.

“We just love everything, and actually, this time of the year it was great because the animals were so much more active. Sometimes when we come in the summer, it’s so hot and they are hiding, but today we could see them up close,” Tyo said. With a similar plan for the day was Mayor Sarah V. Compo Pierce, who brought her daughter for her first-ever visit to the zoo.

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Zoo New York will open on weekends this winter

in Animals/Enviroment/Place 77 views

After some successful fundraising in recent months, Zoo New York officials have announced that the zoo will be open this winter for limited hours, starting Saturday.

The zoo will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The zoo, located in Thompson Park, also will be open during those hours for the full week of winter school break, Feb. 19 to 23.

Interim Director Mark D. Irwin said the decision was made on Monday night by the zoo’s marketing and development committee after reviewing fundraising efforts this winter.

“We’ll do what we can, even if it’s baby steps,” Irwin said Tuesday.

In October, the Thompson Park Conservancy, the organization that runs the zoo, announced it was closing the facility without a reopening date.

To open for winter hours, the community and zoo volunteers have come forward with support, Irwin said. So far, the zoo raised $30,000 during a winter fundraising appeal and brought in another $15,000 from the Winter Wonderland Lights presentation during the holidays.

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Delay in Flynn pool bid opening criticized

in Local News 177 views

Last week’s bid opening for the new Flynn pool was delayed for two weeks amid several vendors having numerous questions about the documents.

The bid opening for the William J. Flynn Municipal Swimming Pool at the North Elementary School will now be held at 2 p.m. Thursday. It had been scheduled for May 4.

In March, consultant C&S Companies, the Syracuse firm handling engineering for the new pool, projected that it will have a total cost of about $3.2 million.

In explaining the reason for holding off the bid, city purchaser Tina Bartlett-Bearup said the city decided to delay it for two weeks after vendors expressed they needed more time to “sort out” their bids.

In all, five vendors brought up a total of 22 questions about the bid documents in the days leading up to the bid opening, so the city determined it was best to give companies more time to work on it, she said.

It was better to hold off so the city didn’t end up with “wild bids” that would later lead to “major change orders,” she explained.

To clarify the bid documents, the city attached four addendums to the original documents that answered the vendors’ questions.

By delaying it, the city could get end up getting some good bids for the project that Ms. Bartlett-Bearup described as “very technical and complicated.” In a Facebook posting three days ago, however, Councilman Cliff G. Olney accused City Manager Kenneth A. Mix of “sandbagging” the project by delaying the bid opening, so that it would be more difficult to find a contractor.

Councilman Olney said Thursday he’s worried that the delay will also hold up getting a contractor on board and then cause construction to be put off until next construction season.

“It’s a pool. It’s just a pool. C&S is the same company that did the Thompson Park pool,” he said referring to designing the $3.2 million pool park three years ago at the city-owned park.

City Councilman Patrick J. Hickey also questioned why the bid process wasn’t handled more smoothly, criticizing city staff for the amount of time that it has taken to get the bid process to this point.

“Delay, delay, delay,” Councilman Hickey said.

In response, Mr. Mix said the city would not have gotten any companies to bid on the project if the bid opening was held on May 4. None of them would have been ready to submit one, he said.

And if that happened, he and his staff would have been blamed for causing it, Mr. Mix said, stressing council members have been kept up to date about the project’s progress throughout its planning stages.

Councilman Olney also was upset that city staff didn’t take his recommendation to provide bid information to Aquatic Development Group, an Albany engineering firm that’s been involved in pool projects for Six Flags amusement parks.

He’s talked to the firm in the past about the project. The councilman has been criticized in the past for lobbying potential contractors.

As city manager, Mr. Mix said he doesn’t get involved in the bidding process, so he didn’t know anything about the Albany firm, he said.

To drum up interest, the city contacted 46 vendors about the pool project, Ms. Bartlett-Bearup said.

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Billy Beez opens in Salmon Run Mall

in Local Business 445 views

Billy Beez, with its maze of twisting slides, trampolines and climbing tubes, has opened at the Salmon Run Mall.

The children’s indoor park — which offers 18,000 square feet of space of foam ball blasters in a ballistics arena, sports courts, an arcade and more — is located across from Escape the Mystery Room in the center court of the mall.

In 2020, the mall announced the indoor play park was coming to Watertown but then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The nation’s supply chain issues also caused a delayed opening.

Construction finally began last summer on the children’s indoor play area.

The Salmon Run Mall park is the 14th of the Syracuse chain. The Billy Beez at Destiny USA in Syracuse is the closest location to Watertown.

“We’re definitely excited they chose Watertown and we’re definitely excited they chose the Salmon Run Mall,” the mall’s marketing director Karla Noftsier said Wednesday.

Billy Beez is available for birthday parties, group events, community fundraisers and other events.

The Salmon Run Mall Billy Beez features two signature Rainbow Wave slides, a gaming arcade, bumper cars, a section for toddlers, private party rooms and a cafe.

The park is designed so adults can play alongside the little ones, while supervised by the professionally trained staff.

The manager of the children’s indoor park would not say how many employees work there or answer any other questions.

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Bar and tanning salon opening on Arsenal Street

in Local Business 319 views

WATERTOWN — If you ever wanted to have a beer when you went tanning, there’ll soon be a place for you.

Shannon M. Exford, owner of The Bad Apple Garage and the Bad Apple Saloon, is opening a tanning salon that will serve beer, hard cider and wine.

The venture will be located at 300 Arsenal St. in a building at Arsenal and Massey streets that also houses a Chinese takeout and a sushi place.

The tanning salon will feature a variety of tanning equipment, including six tanning beds, a stand-up tanning bed and an automated tanning spray machine. Massage Therapy and other related services also will be offered.

Ms. Exford, who also owns One Solution CPA., has operated a tanning salon before.

Although he doesn’t know much about tanning businesses, Donald W. Rutherford, CEO of the Watertown Local Development Corp., also known as the Watertown Trust, described Ms. Exford as an experienced businesswoman and restaurateur.

“She’s done well with restaurants so I think she will be successful,” he said.

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The Eatery opens on Court Street

in Food/Local Business 620 views

WATERTOWN — Christin D. Filippelli has some big ideas for The Eatery, the restaurant she opened almost two weeks ago on Court Street.

The Eatery is starting in a 1,200-square-foot storefront at 168 Court St. that once housed a used book store. Seating 20 people, it’s open from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a lunch menu of sandwiches and salads and some breakfast items. She employs three full-time workers and six part-timers.

But by late summer, The Eatery will triple its size in an adjacent storefront and employ 15 full-time workers.

That’s when Ms. Filippelli says she’ll offer a complete dinner menu and banquet facilities for wedding receptions, business meetings and special events.

“That side is huge,” she said.

For now, however, The Eatery offers menu items named after staff members and friends. The handmade wooden tables were built by a friend’s father.

She says it’s that family atmosphere that will bring her customers back to The Eatery.

They can join a coffee club for $125 a year and get as many cups of Joe they’d like. The Eatery serves “Whipped Desserts” by Mary Campbell and Stew Baytos.

Nonprofit organizations and local small businesses can use the storefront window to advertise.

A group of her teenage son’s friends work part time at the restaurant, which features some of her favorite quotes on the wall.

Soon, Ms. Filippelli will expand her hours to 7:30 p.m. and add a few comfort foods to a dinner menu before she opens the other side.

Opening a restaurant has been a longtime goal.

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