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Watertown developing comprehensive plan, appoints new councilor

Payne Horning
WRVO News (file photo)

Watertown Mayor Joe Butler calls it a blueprint for the city. The comprehensive plan would develop a list of goals and how to accomplish them like reducing drug use in the city to improve public safety, addressing city blight by renovating zombie homes, and improving quality of life by adding more recreational activities for city residents and offering better customer service at city hall.

"It’s a flexible document," Butler said. "Things can change over time, but you try to set the tone so those who follow us will have a foundation to look at in terms of the important big-picture items that are facing the city of Watertown, not only now but in the foreseeable future."

The idea for the comprehensive plan came from the state after the city applied for grants, like the New York State Downtown Revitalization competition it won in 2017.

"Some of the feedback we received was you don’t have a comprehensive city plan when many municipalities your size do, and that it’s always helpful when you apply for some grant or some initiative," He said. "From an economic standpoint, they like to see a comprehensive plan in place and we recognize that this is something we should have done in the past."

City residents will have a chance to help shape the document in upcoming public hearings. One resident who will be key to its development is Sarah Compo, State Sen. Patty Ritchie's chief of staff, who was just appointed to fill a vacancy on the Watertown City Council.

"She’s got a familiarity with how government works and constituent service, she’s plugged into the community, and her education and experience made her a really solid candidate," Butler said.

Compo was one of several candidates who applied to serve the remaining year of former Councilor Mark Walczyk's term on the council. Walczyk won election to the New York State Assembly last fall.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.