Planters will stay in front of bank

Aug. 22—WATERTOWN — To the surprise of the building's owners, the Robert's Rules of Order shot down a move to remove two unfinished concrete planters in front of the downtown KeyBank.

The issue over two concrete planters had been the subject at recent council meetings after building owners Jake Johnson and Robert D. Ferris complained the planters will cause the loss of four parking spots in front of the bank.

At a request of Mayor Jeffrey M. Smith, interim city attorney H. Todd Bullard determined that Robert's Rules of Order prevented the resolution to come before council members once again on Monday night.

According to Robert's Rules of Order, Bullard said that the matter could not be brought back, even though Councilman Cliff G. Olney III missed the Aug. 7 meeting because his father had died earlier that day.

At that meeting he missed, council members voted, 2-2, to spend $38,000 to remove the planters. The vote failed because it was a tie.

After Monday's vote, Johnson and Ferris expressed their anger at the mayor for using a technicality to disallow Councilman Olney to reintroduce the issue.

"I've never seen so much gamesmanship as what was down in this council meeting," Johnson said. "It's dirty pool."

Calling it political maneuvering, the two business owners also accused the mayor and Bullard of working together to sabotage the plan to remove the two planters.

It was under "extenuating circumstances" of the death of his father that Councilman Olney missed the vote, Ferris said.

Councilwoman Lisa A. Ruggiero, who supported reestablishing parking in front of the bank, was surprised that the tactic was brought up in the middle of a council meeting without council members being told before it came up on Monday night.

The planters issue had also come up during a previous meeting in July when it was tabled.

The two 10-foot by 10-foot concrete planters are part of the city's $3.9 million streetscape project designed to make that area of Washington Street safer for pedestrians.

Councilwoman Sarah V. Compo Pierce also opposed removing them.

The mayor and Compo Pierce were not available to comment after the meeting because council members went into an executive session to discuss other city business.