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Watertown officials could hire engineering firm for arena project

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The city is ready to take the next step in a proposed $3.6 million upgrade of the nearly 40-year-old Watertown Municipal Arena that could include a new lobby, ticket booth, press box and offices and bigger and better locker rooms and restrooms.

The Watertown City Council will be asked tonight to approve a $99,700 contract with Stantec Consulting Services, Rochester, for preliminary design of the project at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.

A committee of city staff selected Stantec after interviewing five firms competing for the job. Representatives of the firm were required to take a walk-through of the facility to get ideas on how to proceed with the improvements.

For years, city officials have talked about making major improvements at the facility, citing increased use and a need for more space. In February, the council informally agreed to go forward with the project.

Councilwoman Teresa R. Macaluso said the project is long overdue.

“It has not had a facelift done in 30 years,” she said. “There are things that need to be done. I think we have to move forward with it.”

Five consulting firms with expertise in sports venues vied for the design work. The other firms were Foit-Albert Associates, Buffalo; C&S Cos., Syracuse; Bell & Spina PC, Syracuse, and MRB Group, Rochester.

The preliminary design work would be completed by January, with the project possibly starting next year.

The owner of the Thousand Islands Privateers has told the city the minor league hockey team needs a new locker room.

The project also might feature a warming room where spectators can view the action on the ice, improved administrative offices and a new party room. Work would include repairs to the roof and its trusses. For several years, the roof has been plagued with leaks during heavy rainstorms.

The pre-design will be paid for with funding allocated in the 2011-12 budget for an arena fire protection project, which would be included in the improvements.

In other action:

n Council members are expected to endorse formally the $12.8 million Lincoln Building restoration project, proposed by businessman Brian H. Murray and his partners, Doolittle & Hall LLC. They need the endorsement to apply for $300,000 in state grant funding.

The application for the grants through the state Homes and Community Renewal’s Urban Initiatives and Main Street program is due Aug. 12. The project would entail a mixture of commercial and rental space in the Public Square building.

n Volunteers involved in maintaining and making improvements at the Arsenal Street Cemetery are asking the council to approve a project to get electrical power and water to the cemetery. They said they hope utilities can be connected to nearby Sand Street, so an American flag could be lit up at night, and so water can be used in maintaining the cemetery’s gardens.

The council will meet at 7 p.m. today in the third-floor council chambers of City Hall, 245 Washington St.

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