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Public Square is seen from the third floor of the Paddock Arcade apartments in Watertown. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

Much of the news concerning the economy during the novel coronavirus pandemic has been dismal.

About 1.6 million New Yorkers have lost their jobs since mid-March. State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said state revenues for April were down 68.4 percent from what they were a year ago. And sales tax in Watertown dropped 29.92 percent from what the city generated in April 2019.

So it was welcome news that public projects totaling nearly $2 million begun as part of Watertown’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative have been progressing despite the health care crisis. The North Country Regional Economic Development Council awarded the $10 million state grant to the city in 2017.

This program is designed to help breathe new life into downtowns, and Watertown has a good plan on how to use the funds. Word that some of these projects have continued is worthy of a round of cheers.

“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,” according to a story published May 14 in the Watertown Daily Times. “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.”

Michael A. Lumbis, Watertown’s planning and community development director, said he didn’t know the status of the Masonic Temple, Lincoln Building and Paddock Arcade projects that private developers are working on the article reported. But he said that other projects haven’t been affected all that much by the pandemic.

We congratulate city officials in keeping part of the DRI program moving forward. The downtown will benefit from the work that is done, and Watertown will certainly need any enhancement available once this health crisis subsides.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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