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Stream parking deal on agenda

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The Watertown City Council plans to discuss tonight a lease extension for employee parking that Stream Global Services uses at its call center on Arsenal Street.

Since it opened 10 years ago, the telemarketing company has had an agreement for the city-owned parking garage and two parking lots at the facility site, in addition to a nearby parking lot behind Liberty Plaza.

The 10-year lease expires May 1, and the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency has asked for a five-year extension on the $1-a-year lease. The city also has received an annual fee from the company for the parking lots’ use as a part of a 10-year tax abatement package.

As requested by JCIDA, the extension would begin in September to coincide with the company’s lease with the agency for the facility, city Assessor Brian S. Phelps said. He said the details involving the extension are being finalized.

On Friday, Mr. Phelps said he still was hoping to get answers on why JCIDA waited until just a few weeks before the lease ran out.

In the past, the Watertown Industrial Center Local Development Corp. has been involved in the arrangement, apparently because of old urban renewal laws regarding the site, Mr. Phelps said. The property was a part of the city’s urban renewal program several decades ago.

But Donald W. Rutherford, board president of the WICLDC, said he does not know why the industrial center was involved at all, especially since its employees no longer are employed by JCIDA. He referred questions to JCIDA CEO Donald C. Alexander, who could not be reached for comment.

“As you can see, it’s a sausage in the making,” Mr. Phelps said, adding that council members are not scheduled to take any action on the lease agreement tonight.

Earlier this year, the industrial development center was forced to cut ties with JCIDA as a result of a state comptroller’s ruling that its employees were not legally employees of JCIDA but rather of a nonprofit corporation, and thus could not be a part of the state pension system.

The WICLDC has a maintenance agreement with JCIDA for the Stream facility and the company pays to maintain and plow snow in the parking lots.

The City Council meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the third-floor council chambers at City Hall, 245 Washington St.

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