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Watertown wrapping up downtown facade program

in Local News/Place 129 views

You could say that there’s an awning of a new age happening downtown these days.

Watertown is joining a trend of communities across the country giving a little shade to downtown by installing awnings on buildings.

Fifty awnings are going up on nine buildings in and around downtown as part of the city’s $460,000 facade improvement program.

“It just makes downtown more walkable and adds some character to the buildings,” said Neighbors of Watertown Executive Director Reginald J. Schweitzer Jr.

The Watertown Local Development Corp., also known as the Watertown Trust, is overseeing the facade program, while Neighbors of Watertown Inc. is arranging the work with contractors.

The work — funded by the city’s $10 million in Downtown Revitalization Initiative funds from 2017 — is expected to be wrapped up by the end of April and in time for a state-required deadline.

The improvements were originally going to be finished in the fall of 2021, so it’s now crunch time to put the program to bed, Watertown Trust CEO Donald W. Rutherford said.

The availability of contractors and materials delayed completion of the project. The COVID-19 pandemic also slowed its progress.

Causing some of the delay, Mr. Schweitzer said, was a difficulty finding awning companies in the region to do the work.

In order not to lose the state money, the two agencies had to get an extension granted from the New York Department of State, Mr. Rutherford said.

Signs & Designs in Carthage, Awning Mart in Cicero and Brownie’s Tent & Awning in Utica manufactured the awnings over the winter.

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