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Watertown’s Public Square fountain will undergo repairs

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A constant in the center of downtown since 1870, the Public Square fountain will be gone for some time this summer.

The fountain, located on the west side of Public Square’s grassy median, will be dismantled this summer for a complete restoration project, the first in many years.

The project is part of the city’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative funding awarded seven years ago.

The city set aside $55,000 in DRI funds to complete repairs to the fountain, surrounded by a wrought-iron fence. But that was before Crawford & Stearns Architect and Preservation Planners completed an inspection of the fountain last summer that found much more work needs to be done.

The fountain’s iron works will be dismantled, sent off for complete restoration and brought back once the redo is completed, senior planner Jennifer Voss said.

The iron work will be sandblasted and repaired off site, she said.

“It’ll be gone for a period of time this summer,” she said.

Bids will be going out within a month to find a company to complete the restoration.

Michael A. Lumbis, the city’s planning and community renewal director, said the gravity-fed fountain has a long history beginning with an earlier fountain design that caused a flap.

The fountain in the middle of the Square was the brainchild of a local councilman.

Local newspaper editor Benjamin Cory paid for its installation.

But some people complained it was a waste of money, Lumbis said. They dubbed it “Cory’s punch bowl, a reference to its masonry basin.

In 1870, a more elaborate fountain was erected on the site that still stands today. The fountain was manufactured by the Wood & Perot Foundry in Philadelphia, Pa.

It might be the only cast iron fountain like it that’s still in existence in the state.

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Flower Memorial Library’s fountains, facade will undergo repairs

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Flower Memorial Library is about to embark on a series of projects that includes making sure small pieces of marble don’t fall from the top of the historic building and getting its two iconic fountains fixed.

In the spring, maintenance workers discovered that 3- or 4-inch pieces of marble were falling to the ground.

A chain was subsequently put up in front of the building to prevent the public from entering the area.

“You don’t want pieces of marble falling on people’s heads,” library director Suzie Renzi-Falge said.

All summer the two fountains in front of the building have been covered because they need to be repaired.

Earlier this month, the City Council appropriated $72,428 to hire Heritage Masonry, Syracuse, to repoint and repair the building’s cornice to prevent more pieces from falling.

The city also is waiting for a quote from a company to see how much it will cost to fix an electrical problem on the two fountains.

Somehow water had seeped into the fountain’s electrical conduit, City Manager Kenneth A. Mix said. The city hopes to find out whether the electrical equipment can be moved from underneath the fountains and into the building.

Almost 20 years ago, fundraising efforts saved the two fountains from being removed.

In the past several years, repairs have been done to the building’s facade at least two other times, Mix remembered.

The engraved lettering at the top of the library and its soffit had to undergo repairs. Heritage Masonry — which also has done work on a wall at Thompson Park — was involved in that work, Mix said.

Inside, about eight windows on the second floor of the 1975 addition will be replaced and there will be upgrades to the lighting in the 1812 and Old Watertown Rooms, Renzi-Falge said.

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North country to see millions for bridge, culvert repairs

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Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties are set to receive more than $20 million in bridge repair and replacement funding, Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul said Wednesday.

It’s part of a $516 million bridge repair package funded in this year’s budget that the governor is now able to distribute to more than 141 local governments and 216 bridge repair projects statewide. The north country is set to receive $36.5 million, with slightly more than half of that coming to the western three counties.

Part of the BRIDGE NY initiative, the money is billed as a boost for local resiliency to impacts of climate change, which include more severe weather and more strain on water-based infrastructure like culverts and bridges.

“New York state is making historic investments to modernize our infrastructure and we are committed to working with our partners in local government to help ensure their bridges and culverts and ready to meet the challenges of global climate change,” Hochul said in a statement.

That’s got the support of Sen. Mark C. Walczyk, R-Watertown, who lauded the investments.

“Assisting local government in strengthening and protecting critical infrastructure such as bridges and culverts is vital for the state of New York,” he said. “I’m glad to see the continued investment in our communities.”

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