Communities throughout Northern New York have found wonderful ways to promote their waterfronts.
John J. Behan operates Behan Planning and Design in Saratoga Springs, and he has some ideas about how Watertown can enhance residents’ access to the Black River. He made a presentation April 23 to city officials during a work session.
“People really want to come to the river,” Behan told council members. “They want to eat and drink at the river.”
Last year, the City Council hired Behan’s firm to come up with a plan to implement Watertown’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. The city drafted its LWRP in 2010 but never officially adopted it.
The 10 members of a committee have been meeting regularly to continue work on the LWRP. This group is made up of Councilman Patrick J. Hickey, city staffers and river enthusiasts.
“For years, the city has talked about ways to improve access to the river and connect downtown with it,” according to a story published April 26 by the Watertown Daily Times. “Mr. Behan pointed out that the city already has some plans in place to create that access to the river. For instance, the city hopes to create hiking trails to Sewall’s Island via an old railroad crossing, he said. He also suggested that the city gain control as much of the undeveloped and green space along both sides of the river so it can get more access to the riverfront. Mr. Behan is a Watertown native who moved to Saratoga Springs in the 1980s. The city near Albany has become a tourist destination over the years. When he was growing up, Mr. Behan remembered parents warned their children about the dangers of the Black River, but access to it is vital in city’s continued growth and could help make Watertown a tourist destination, too.”
The LWRP is a New York state initiative designed to support communities in improving their waterfront areas. The villages of Canton, Massena, Potsdam Sackets Harbor have all sought grants to assist with their proposals.
It’s good that the city is finally moving forward with its LWRP. Developing the riverfront will increase the city’s appeal to visitors as well as potential residents.
Mayor Jeffrey M. Smith said it’s essential for members of the community to support the LWRP and provide the necessary investments. He’s correct to point out that the city’s plan will only work if we all take part in seeing it succeed.
But Planning and Community Development Director Michael A. Lumbis said that private developers want to see the city invest in this plan first. This is an important point as such a proposal requires a significant commitment on the city’s part.
“The update [to the LWRP] 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. Behan Planning and Design is updating that plan, and then the City Council will adopt it. The state also must approve the plan,” the article reported. “Once that is done, the city can apply for implementation funding from the state for the projects that Mr. Behan described Tuesday night, senior city planner Jenn 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 with funds previously budgeted as a match, along with other funds in the city budget.”
We commend city officials for advancing this plan and encourage residents and businesses to support it. This will improve the quality of life in Watertown and enhance recreational activities.
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.