Concerns raised on monument improvements

The Gov. Roswell P. Flower Memorial monument is positioned between the north and southbound lanes of Watertown’s Washington Street. Alex Gault/Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — A Carthage man has been cited after striking the Governor Roswell Pettibone Flower memorial monument in the middle of Washington Street.

Jake A. Camidge, 26, of Carthage, was given a traffic citation by Watertown City Police on Sunday evening, for leaving the scene of an accident.

According to a city police press release, at about 1 a.m. Sunday, officer Wayne McConnell discovered that two bollards and the base of the monument had been damaged. One bollard had been knocked clear off its base and into the monument, and another had been struck, its snowplow marker knocked off.

Officer McConnell found that a vehicle had traveled north on Washington Street, struck the monument and made the next left onto Stone Street. The officer found the license plate for Mr. Camidge’s red 2004 Ford truck lying on Stone Street.

He then found the truck itself, abandoned in the public parking lot on Stone Street. It had sustained extensive damage to its left side and undercarriage.

City police requested that deputies from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office locate Mr. Camidge at his home, but he wasn’t there. Later that evening, Officer McConnell himself located Mr. Camidge at his home.

There, police said Mr. Camidge admitted to striking the monument, saying he dropped his cigarette as he drove. When he reached down to retrieve the cigarette, he struck the curb of the monument.

Mr. Camidge admitted to driving the truck to the Stone Street lot and leaving it as it was undriveable with a flat tire, according to police.

Mr. Camidge was issued a traffic ticket for the incident. The bollards of the monument, as of Monday morning, remain damaged.\

This isn’t the first time the monument has been struck, and the city has dedicated about $100,000 in Downtown Revitalization Initiative money to protecting the Roswell Flower monument, although no work has been completed yet.

According to Michael A. Lumbis, city planning director, officials are working on final designs for the improvements and expect to start work in the springtime.

Mr. Lumbis said officials are planning two major improvements, and have retained engineering firm Barton and Loguidice, whose offices overlook the monument, to lead the project.

The first improvement being planned is a strengthening of all the bollards around the memorial. Mr. Lumbis said the bollards on the north side of the monument have been strengthened already, with a steel pipe running through them, about 4 feet into the ground and reinforced with concrete.

“They provide a lot of protection,” he said.

However, the other three sides of the monument, including the south side that sustained damage on Sunday, are simply set on top of granite bases and held in place with a piece of rebar. They do not provide as much protection as the northern bollards, so officials plan to replace them all with the more secure design.

The second improvement planned is a change to the pavement immediately surrounding the monument. It’s currently surrounded by the travel lanes of Washington Street, with only paint stripes to differentiate it. Mr. Lumbis said planners anticipate they will either change the surrounding pavement’s color, or replace the pavement with decorative rumble-stripping.

“That would alert drivers that they’re getting close, provide a visual cue or a warning,” he said.

The changes could save the city thousands in the long run. Mr. Lumbis said the bollards themselves can cost up to $2,000 each to recreate, and may need repairing even after they’re strengthened. The front bollards, after strengthening, prevented an accident but shattered upon impact a few years ago, Mr. Lumbis said.

The real savings come in protecting the memorial itself. Mr. Lumbis said the eagle details at the front of the memorial cost over $20,000 to recreate when the memorial was restored 20 years ago.

“That was then,” he said. “Something like that can easily be tens of thousands of dollars. Hopefully, this protection that we’re talking about can prevent those things.”

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

I write about north country politics, Jefferson County and the northern shoreline towns of Lyme, Cape Vincent, Clayton and Alexandria Bay

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