|Neighbors Of Watertown, Inc - News & Articles||
By: Craig Fox, Times Staff Writer | March 24, 2011
OVERSIGHT: Installation of lines will begin when weather breaks
Three years after the reconstruction of Public Square, Thomas P. Cahill will finally be getting water service that he can use for the upper floors of the building he plans to turn into apartments.
Last year, Mr. Cahill dropped plans for the $375,000 project after touching off a debate at City Hall about how to supply larger volumes of water to some buildings on the southwest block of Public Square.
The city inadvertently left out installing new water lines for Mr. Cahill's building and others at 12, 18 and 24 Public Square during the $8 million reconstruction of downtown Watertown in 2008.
But city work crews will soon tear up the sidewalk and a part of the street in front of the building at 14-16 Public Square to install a larger water line that will be connected to the Cahill Building and the three others. The city will use $14,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding to pay for the new line.
"It should have been done when Public Square was done, but they're taking care of it now," Mr. Cahill said Wednesday.
Mr. Cahill's project was initially puton hold while engineers figured out how to solve the water issue for his building and the other three. Then, last July, Mr. Cahill halted the project, blaming too much red tape.
Now, he said he's ready to proceed with the project to renovate the upper floors of the three-story building into four, one-bedroom apartments. He's working on the final steps of obtaining private financing for the project. He's also getting a $180,000 grant from Neighbors of Watertown Inc. for the work.
City water Superintendent Gary E. Pilon said Wednesday he blamed the oversight on not being aware that those buildings would someday need the larger water line for upgrades on the upper floors. The city didn't know about Mr. Cahill's plans when the Public Square reconstruction was designed and completed, Mr. Pilon said.
"It was not on our radar," he said.
When the issue came to light last summer, Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham took the blame, apologized and said he would work with staff to correct the problem. On Wednesday, Mr. Graham said he's happy it's been resolved.
"We're correcting it, at least," he said.
The buildings are connected to 1-inch diameter laterals, which are not large enough to serve commercial sprinkler systems. Such a sprinkler is needed in the Cahill building to meet fire codes.
The water line project will entail digging up a part of Public Square. When the weather breaks, city work crews will dig a roughly 25-foot-long, three-foot-wide trench that will stretch from the building, across the sidewalk and into the parking lane of the street, said Mr. Pilon, who has figured out a way to serve all four buildings with this project.
It'll probably take about two weeks to complete, mostly because it will be difficult to get around electric lines there, he said.
Mr. Cahill's plans to create apartments in his building comes at a time when several similar downtown projects are in the works, including in the Woolworth Building and the Wing Wagon building, both on other sections of Public Square.
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