Sewall’s Island plans include hotel, houses, hiking trails, park

This Google Earth satellite image shows Sewall’s Island.

WATERTOWN — A consultant envisions a boutique hotel, homes along the Black River and hiking trails and green space on Sewall’s Island.

City Council members on Monday night heard from a couple of urban designers who came up with some ideas how the mostly vacant Sewall’s Island and nearby Factory Square neighborhood could be redeveloped.

To get to this point, a long-awaited $1.5 million environmental cleanup of Sewall’s Island was finally completed last year before any kind of development could proceed.

Darren J. Meyer and Sean Hare, both with MKSK Studios, Ohio, unveiled their ideas during a presentation Monday night. A final report will be completed in the coming months.

For months, city officials waited for the team of landscape engineers to put together their ideas. They liked what they saw Monday night.

But Mayor Jeffrey M. Smith said he had hoped that the plans would incorporate two dams off the island that could be converted into hydroelectric plants.

He also wondered about funding for the proposals and how private land owners could be convinced to get involved.

The consultants told the mayor it would take private investment for much of the redevelopment.

The city owns 18.6 acres of the 28.7-acre island property on the Black River, about 10 acres of which can be developed. About 5.6 acres of the island can be designated only for park development.

The city obtained the site through back taxes from Black Clawson, which closed its foundry in 1991. The massive complex was destroyed in a fire in 1999.

The Factory Square area of downtown contains a series of industrial buildings along the river, some commercial businesses and a small park, where the city had once planned to create a dog park. For years, it’s been a goal of city officials to spruce up the neighborhood.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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