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Delay in Flynn pool bid opening criticized

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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 355 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 283 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 567 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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Eight businesses opening in Salmon Run Mall

in Local Business 1,935 views

WATERTOWN — A restaurant, former downtown jeans store, bubble tea shop and a virtual reality store are new businesses that will be coming to the Salmon Run Mall in the coming weeks and months.

Karla Noftsier, the mall’s marketing director, announced the eight new businesses in an email.

“We’re excited to have some new stores in the mix as we take off in 2022,” she said.

With the eight new businesses, the mall will fill up an unspecified space occupied by former retail shops. She could not say how much unoccupied space remains.

In what’s considered an important addition, Kiss My Axe, a casual bar serving specialty pizzas, hot subs and other items, will open in the former Skewed Brewing, which closed at the beginning of the pandemic. The new restaurant is scheduled to open in June.

Owner Najib Ismail already runs Zero Latency and The Spinning Grill Mediterranean restaurant in the mall. He could not be reached for comment.

Ms. Noftsier confirmed that Loft 315, a denim jeans store that opened in downtown Watertown in 2019, will be relocating on March 1, next to the Torrid store in the mall.

The downtown Franklin Street storefront is part of Jefferson Community College’s education center project and needs to find a new location as that construction is set to begin this spring.

The store closed soon after Christmas.

Merchant Marylois Queal, who couldn’t be reached for comment, has been hinting about the change on the store’s Facebook page for weeks.

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Three new restaurants open in Watertown

in Food/Local Business 771 views

WATERTOWN — A popular juice bar has relocated, a restaurant with Filipino food has landed in the city, and a family with a rich history in the local food industry has reopened a restaurant that closed at the start of pandemic.

With the three new restaurants, the city’s food scene continues to change.

On Bradley Street, co-owners Jezza Vargas and her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Kellogg, opened Flavors of the Philippines on Dec. 1, offering a sizable menu of Filipino and Asian foods.

“There’s not another Filipino restaurant in 300 miles,” Sgt. Kellogg said.

The restaurant occupies a building at 568 Bradley St., once the home of a car detailing business and a sandwich shop years ago.

The couple completed major renovations before the opening.

Ms. Vargas went to culinary school to learn to be a chef at Lyceum of Philippines University in Manila and has eight years of experience in the food industry in Colorado Springs, where she managed two restaurants. They moved to the north country this fall when he was assigned to Fort Drum.

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Former Fort Drum officer opening second restaurant in Public Square

in Local Business 951 views

WATERTOWN — Vonnette T. Monteith just couldn’t part with the historic building at 63-65 Public Square that she bought while she was still serving in the Army at Fort Drum in 2005.

While it wasn’t her original intention, she ended up opening a Mexican Restaurant, Casa de Flor, back then.

And now, acknowledging that she’s surprised that she’s doing it again, Ms. Monteith is opening another restaurant in the building she loves.

“I’m sentimental,” she said.

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