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Watertown still cannot issue sewer permits for new development

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City officials met last week with the Department of Environmental Conservation about its moratorium on issuing sewer permits.

A moratorium remains in effect on sewer permits while the city works through issues with the Western Outfall Trunk Sewer basin.

In February, the city was cited by the DEC for purposely discharging untreated wastewater into Beaver Meadows, a large wetlands west of the city limits.

The city received the notice of violation after the DEC became aware that the city was purposely allowing the discharging of untreated water — mostly rainwater — through a manhole cover on Butterfield Drive.

The city continues to work with the DEC on its plan to resolve the issue, Water Superintendent Vicky L. Murphy said Monday.

The city had already submitted the “Offset Plan” but must resubmit it after receiving some “general comments” about it last week, she said.

Once the DEC approves the offset plan, the city can resume approving sewer permits for new development.

The city is getting advice from its consultant, GHD, Engineering, Syracuse, and has brought in another consultant, Flow Management Workgroup, to help with the Offset Plan.

The city can use what is called “sewer banks,” in which the city can get one-third credit for inflow and infiltration remediation projects that can later be used for sewer connections for new development.

For instance, the city replaced 63 manhole covers and received credit for 12,500 gallons per day that can be used for about 4,000 gallons per day for a sewer connection for new development.

GHD and Flow Management Workgroup plan to provide guidance “on what they have seen regarding sewer banks so we can mimic what other cities have done which should be acceptable to the DEC,” Murphy said.

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Barton & Loguidice project for Watertown clinic wins gold award from engineering industry

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A behavioral health campus in Watertown, NY, owned and operated by Citizen Advocates and designed by Barton & Loguidice (B&L) into a safe haven for the delivery of lifesaving mental health and addiction treatment, has been selected as a Gold Award winning project by the American Council of Engineering Companies of New York (ACEC NY) in the 2024 Engineering Excellence Awards Competition.

The 11,000 square-foot clinic, which officially opened on May 1, 2023, filled a critical need for immediate access to 24/7 mental health and addiction support in an underserved area of northern New York. The revitalization of the formerly vacant, blighted property not only connected with the public but also stands as an investment in the community’s well-being.

“This project serves as a testament to the power of transformation and community support, and we are grateful to have been a part of it,” said Barton & Loguidice’s Project Manager, Dean Mason, P.E.

“Citizen Advocates believes in breaking the mold when it comes to what a behavioral health clinic is expected to look like,” said James Button, President & CEO of Citizen Advocates. “We not only want our facilities to be warm, expansive, and state-of-the-art treatment centers, they must also include smart, forward-looking design features that prioritize environmentally sound and energy efficient practices. Our partnership with Barton & Loguidice has been key to making our vision a reality, and it’s no surprise they are being celebrated by their peers for the exceptional work that produced our Watertown clinic.”

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State awards tens of millions in funding for water infrastructure work in north country

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Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul announced Tuesday tens of millions of dollars in state grant funding for water infrastructure projects across the north country, including more than $30 million in funding within Jefferson County alone.

The largest funding amounts — $5 million each — will be going to the towns of Cape Vincent, Hounsfield and Pamelia, as well the Development Authority of the North Country, with the town of Clayton receiving the nearly similar amount of $4.94 million and the village of Alexandria Bay getting $4.8 million.

The money is included in $479 million in grants statewide announced by the governor from the Environmental Bond Act and the latest round of the Water Infrastructure Improvement and Intermunicipal Grant Programs. Part of that money comes from the $4.2 billion Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022, which was passed by voters in a referendum.

The grants are awarded by the state’s Environmental Facilities Corp., in coordination with the state health and environmental conservation departments, and are part of the state’s commitment to modernize aging water and sewer systems, according to a statement from Hochul’s office.

In all, 156 water projects will receive funding in what the governor described as a “transformative” investment necessary to undertake water quality projects crucial to safeguarding public health, protecting the environment, bolstering communities’ climate readiness and promoting economic development.

“No one in New York should ever fear that they don’t have access to clean water,” Hochul said in a statement. “We are reassuring communities across New York that your kids, grandkids, and great grandkids will always have access to clean and safe water. This investment will make lifesaving improvements to our water infrastructure and safeguard drinking water for millions of people, in addition to saving New Yorkers money and creating tens of thousands of jobs.”

In Jefferson County, Alexandria Bay will use its funding for improvements to its wastewater treatment facilities. Cape Vincent will use the funding toward its Water District Number 7, while Clayton will use its award for a water main and intake replacement and Pamelia is also replacing a water main. DANC will use its $5 million for its first phase in replacing a water line that services Fort Drum. Hounsfield will use its funding in its Water Service Area Number 8.

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City finishes up Flower monument project

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In many ways, the Gov. Roswell P. Flower Monument on Washington Street has become the centerpiece of the city’s downtown $3.9 million streetscape project.

With major improvements just about finished, the median where the iconic landmark sits has been vastly expanded, allowing pedestrians to cross from one side of Washington Street, stop to get a closer, safer view of the monument and then continue to the other side of the busy city street.

A 3-foot-tall interpretive sign has been added on the sidewalk in front of the Barton & Loguidice building on the west side of Washington Street.

The sign tells the story about the monument, Gov. Flower, the well-known artist who created the monument, its historic significance and the community’s involvement in preserving it.

“It celebrates Roswell P. Flower and why it’s important to have it here in Watertown,” said city planner Geoffrey T. Urda, who oversaw the streetscape project for the city.

The improvements include installing 13 crash-rated bollards around the monument near Public Square to prevent vehicles slamming into the monument, For years, every so often a vehicle crashed into the smaller bollards.

The oval-shaped island — more than double the size of the original median — features a bed full of colorful flowers at the other end of the median.

Rande S. Richardson, who was chairman of a group involved with restoring the monument 20 years ago, is impressed with how the monument project turned out.

“Overall, it’s in line with what we’ve envisioned,” he said.

But most importantly, the improvements protect the monument from further damage, he stressed.

He, too, thinks that the project preserves the monument for its historic significance for the individual but also for the artist who created the statue.

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Road construction hits high gear in Watertown

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City Manager Kenneth A. Mix says there hasn’t been this much road construction going on in the city in decades.

The $3.9 million streetscape project, $8.3 million in construction of the Court Street Bridge, and milling and paving on Academy, High and Mill streets are just some of the major projects underway.

And then there’s a half dozen or so water main projects and the run of the mill annual paving getting done.

“This is the most that I can ever remember,” Mr. Mix said.

Earlier this week, drivers were disrupted by the closing of the Court Street bridge on Tuesday and rerouted to Vanduzee Street.

One lane had been closed since the work began this spring. Vehicles were able to get back through the next day.

The project will continue on replacing the deck. The bridge’s other lane must still be done, said Thomas M. Maurer, an engineer in the city engineering office.

Luck Brothers, Plattsburgh, the general contractor on the project, is expected to finish the bridge work by the end of the year.

Sure, all the construction around the city might be a headache for motorists, but some of the projects have been planned for years, Mr. Mix said.

For several weeks, Pratt Street was ripped up a bit for a water main project, Mr. Mix drove on the street a few days ago and noticed the road has been repaved.

“It got done,” he said.

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