WATERTOWN — Nearly $2 million in public projects under the city’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative program are moving along despite the coronavirus that has hampered other local economic development efforts.
On Thursday morning, members of Advantage Watertown — a group of community and business leaders who brainstorm about city issues — got a progress report on the public projects.
It’s the first time that city officials talked about what was going on with the projects since the coronavirus shut down the local economy more than two months ago.
The city’s Planning Department and Engineering Office have been working on the planning aspects of the four public projects.
Asked after the meeting whether the pandemic has hindered those efforts, Michael A. Lumbis, the city planning and community development director, said: “Maybe a little bit but not much.”
With the impact of pandemic still occurring, Mr. Lumbis doesn’t know the status of the Masonic Temple, Lincoln Building and Paddock Arcade projects that private developers are undertaking with the $10 million DRI funding that the city received in 2017.
“I haven’t heard a thing from the sponsors and developers of those projects to know where they stand,” he said.
Instead, the Planning Department is putting together Requests for Proposals for a design engineer landscaping architect that would design a $1.5 million streetscape enhancement project.
Those streetscape improvements along portions of Franklin and Coffeen streets and all of Court Street is the biggest of the four projects. The project includes new sidewalks, curbing, lighting, landscaping, tree planting and smaller public art projects.
That project will make it easier for pedestrians to walk around downtown. Construction won’t start until next year.
That same architectural firm also plans to design the $100,000 project to protect the Gov. Roswell P. Flower Monument on lower Washington Street. Over the years, the monument has been damaged after getting struck by vehicles several times.
The remainder of the $1.95 million will be used for $320,000 in branding and wayward signage and $55,000 for a decorative fence around the fountain in Public Square.
An RFP for the signage project probably will go out in a month or two, Mr. Lumbis said. The fountain will most likely be repainted this construction season.
Before the pandemic began, the state Department of State signed the agreement with the city to start the projects.