Work resumes on planters in front of downtown bank

Apr. 19—WATERTOWN — Months after sitting idle, work has resumed on two unfinished cement planters in front of the downtown KeyBank.

For months last year, the City Council was divided over whether the two planters should be removed or not. Developers Jake Johnson and Bobby Ferris had objected to the city installing them, citing the loss of four parking spots.

So work stopped, while council members debated the issue. The planters are part of a $3.9-million downtown "streetscape" improvement project.

At Monday night's City Council meeting, Mill Street resident Jonathan Phillips said the uncompleted planters were unsafe, criticizing the council for letting them to sit for all these months.

"It's horrible," he said.

Three days later, the contractor, CCI Companies Inc., filled the planters with soil. They soon will be finished.

On Thursday, city planner Geoffrey T. Urda said "work was progressing with the project as it was designed."

On Thursday afternoon, Councilwoman Lisa A. Ruggiero expressed surprise that work resumed on the planters without council members being told about it. She had supported their removal.

Councilman Cliff G. Olney III initially wanted them to be removed, but then the cost increased to $93,000 before the city negotiated the amount down to $80,000.

"I wasn't going to pay $80,000," Olney said, adding that the situation was orchestrated by supporters who wanted them to remain.

The planters cost $23,000 to install, he recalled.

This spring, CCI also is finishing some other portions of the streetscape project.