Watertown downtown facade program facing delays

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WATERTOWN — The plan was to add 50 awnings on 10 downtown buildings by now, but the availability of contractors and materials have delayed completion of downtown’s $460,000 facade improvement project.

The work, funded by the city’s $10 million in Downtown Revitalization Initiative funds awarded in 2017, was originally going to be finished a year ago. The COVID-19 pandemic has also slowed the progress of the facade work.

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

Watertown Trust CEO Donald W. Rutherford and his Watertown Trust board members are worried that the city will lose the DRI funding if the facade improvements don’t get done by a state-required deadline.

It’s now crunch time to put the facade program to bed, they said.

Recently, the New York Department of State granted an extension to get the work started by Oct. 1 and completed by April 30, 2023.

“That’s 90 days,” Mr. Rutherford said. “I just don’t see it.”

But Neighbors of Watertown Executive Director Reginald J. Schweitzer Jr. said not to worry. He expects that most of the work will be done this construction season.

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