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Watertown’s $3.9 million streetscape projects ‘substantially done’

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Sep. 25—WATERTOWN — Despite a concrete shortage and a controversy over concrete planters, work on the city’s $3.9 million downtown streetscape is finally nearing completion.

After starting late last week, crews continued paving along Court Street on Monday, the last major item that needed to get finished.

“It’s been a challenge, but the project is substantially done,” said Michael A. Lumbis, the city’s planning and community development director.

He thanked downtown business owners for being “extremely patient” during the construction that has lasted more than a year.

The city had hoped for the major improvements downtown to be finished this summer, in time for a ribbon-cutting at one of the three downtown block parties.

But getting concrete for the project turned out to be an obstacle. Fort Drum also needed a vast amount of concrete for a major project on post.

There also was a debate to decide whether to keep two large concrete planters in front of the downtown KeyBank or opt to remove them for more parking.

By a 3-2 vote earlier this month, council members decided to remove the planters. The Watertown engineering firm of Barton & Loguidice has started designing what that will look like. The planters will eventually be removed.

That leaves a series of smaller items that must still be done, Lumbis said. The new street light poles are in place, but National Grid must still install the decorative elements at the top of them.

Reddish brick pavers, like the ones in Public Square, must be put down in crosswalks throughout the project.

Some trees must still be planted next spring and other associated landscaping still must be completed.

And then there’s the new way of parking that will happen on Court Street.

Motorists will have to use rear angle parking in which they’ll have to back up into parking spaces on that busy city street.

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