City OKs updating riverfront program

The abandoned hydropower plant on Sewall's Island in Watertown, seen from across the Black River near Factory Square on Feb. 4. The City Council on Monday night agreed to retain a Saratoga Springs firm, Behan Planning and Design, to develop a draft plan for Watertown's Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. Kara Dry/Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — The city will finally have a plan in place to connect downtown with the riverfront.

On Monday night, the City Council agreed to retain a Saratoga Springs firm, Behan Planning and Design, to develop a draft plan for Watertown’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, or LWRP.

The city first put together the LWRP plan in 2010, but it was never officially adopted.

Behan Planning and Design will update that plan, and then the City Council will adopt it, senior city planner Jennifer Voss said.

By doing so, the city will be eligible for grants to implement the recommendations in the plan.

The update is needed because there have been many changes to areas along the Black River since the first document was written more than a decade ago, Ms. Voss said.

A state grant is paying for the work that will be done on finalizing the plan. Behan will be paid $60,000 to put the update together.

The grant will cover approximately 80% of the cost. The remaining 20% will be paid by using funds previously budgeted as a match, along with other funds in the current city budget.

Three other firms submitted proposals to the city, but a city advisory board agreed that Behan was the most qualified.

Behan was selected because the firm has previous experience in writing LWRP plans, while the other three did not, Ms. Voss said.

Developing a LWRP plan “is a challenge,” so it was important to retain a firm with previous experience, she said.

The plan will take about 18 months to complete.

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