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Developer offers to give stretch of Palmer Street to city


Developer Brian H. Murray is concerned that one of his 200 tenants could be hit by a vehicle while walking in deteriorating conditions along Palmer Street.

That’s why the local property investor has offered to donate a section of Palmer Street to the city. On Wednesday, Mr. Murray, manager of Jefferson Heights LLC, which owns Palmer Street Apartments, made his intentions known in a letter to city officials.

His offer was prompted by the Watertown City Council’s discussion last Monday night over whether the city should take over the privately owned section of the street from Emmett Street to Wealtha Avenue.

Some residents have complained the street isn’t well maintained, is riddled with potholes and doesn’t have sidewalks.

“It’s my feeling it’s unsafe,” Mr. Murray said Friday, noting that children walk along it to get to the school bus stop at Emmett Street, and that other tenants from the 70-unit apartment complex traverse the thoroughfare.

Over the years, council members have debated whether the city should take ownership of the narrow stretch of roadway since the city snowplows it and fills in the potholes.

The Palmer Street section between Arsenal and Emmett streets already is under the city’s jurisdiction; it became a city-dedicated street in 1897.

On Monday night, Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham unsuccessfully lobbied council members to make the other sections of the street safe after receiving complaints about their condition.

“It’s about real people; it’s about real kids,” the mayor said Friday. “It needs to be addressed.”

Mr. Murray said he would give a 660-foot-long, 40- to 50-foot-wide section that runs from the north entrance of the apartment complex to the south entrance. That section is the only privately owned portion in “good condition,” he said.

Council members would simply have to vote to accept the donation from Mr. Murray.

Tenant Tasha M. Hollingsworth said she hopes the city accepts Mr. Murray’s offer, adding she is concerned about the street conditions where her 8-year-old son, Riley E., waits for his school bus. “It’s awful,” she said, adding she’s also worried the potholes will damage her car.

In 2012, City Engineer Kurt W. Hauk put a $1,173,232 price tag on making major Palmer Street improvements that would include widening the road and installing sidewalks and sewers. The price did not include acquiring property for the project.

But council members have been reluctant to spend that kind of money.

On Friday, council members Teresa R. Macaluso and Stephen A. Jennings said they would support less extravagant repairs.

“It has to do about the cost,” Ms. Macaluso said. “It’s not a well-traveled road.”

On Friday, Mr. Hauk said the city could make improvements to the street without making it a city-dedicated thoroughfare.

But there’s another snag.

The city has had trouble determining the actual owners of two other sections of the road. The ownership of a section between Emmett Street and the apartment complex and another portion north of it may be in question because the city was never able to resolve that issue when it looked into it in 2005.

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