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Business owners cite square disturbances

Kimberly Jordan kjordan@lebanondemocrat.com • Dec 15, 2015 at 2:44 PM

Watertown business owners addressed the city council Wednesday about recent disturbances on the public square.

Watertown Public Library's Pam Wiggins told councilors, "I wanted to stand before you, not to belittle anyone, but we have an issue with teens hanging out on the gazebo. Some parents have an issue with some of the language."

She said that she plans to speak with Watertown High School Principal Jeff Luttrell, as well as the school librarian, to "give them something constructive and give them something to do besides hang out" on the square.

Business owner Robin Vance, who has a law office on the square, said she has noticed an increase in congregations on the square.

"I have a great vantage point from my office," she said. "I've seen them running into the street; it would be real easy for someone to get run over. [They are] posing a danger to themselves and drivers," said Vance.

Mayor Mike Jennings said he has also had citizens bring complaints.

"Some of the other complaints I had have involved vandalism…Two I've heard involved damage to a vehicle. I appreciate you all bringing that to our attention," said Jennings.

Vance said that as a business owner, she wanted to bring it to the council's attention.

"I don't really know what the solution is, but I think we've got to do something. I'll be willing to do what I can to help," said Vance. "I think it's important to let people know that the issues of vandalism are very small, you're talking seven or eight kids. Our town has some great kids that do the right thing."

During regular business, the council discussed several topics. The first addressed handicap accessible parking on the square.

Jennings said the current parking space in front of the library needed improvement and said it was suggested to him that "we stripe both sides of the space. People get out of vehicles on both sides, so that would help address the problem."

Councilor Brandon Howard asked if one could be put in front of the Mexican restaurant as well as at the corner of Elm Street and Main Street. After discussion, a motion was made to include a parking space in front of Jim's Antiques as well as at the Elm and Main location, along with re-striping the space by the library.

The council approved the motion unanimously.

The council also addressed what to do with the old city hall building.

"We have talked for several months about what to do with the old city hall. We've had some interest in purchasing it, but we have to have a policy to say how [the council] will sell it. I think we need to adopt an ordinance as to how we want to sell it," said Jennings. "We have a responsibility to get as much as we can for the building and do the best for the taxpayers."

In other business, the council approved on second reading a measure to create a sinking fund for building improvements.

Jennings also told the council that he has met with both a commercial and an industrial prospect looking at locating in Watertown.

"I cannot divulge the details," said Jennings. "I'm not trying to be secretive, I want you to know about them. I'm excited that we are getting noticed. I think this would be great for Watertown."

The council will next meet April 8.

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