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Watertown City Council nears formal advisory relationship with Advantage Watertown group

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WATERTOWN — The City Council appeared close to formalizing an arrangement to make the Advantage Watertown group an official advisory committee to the city.

The group, which for 13 years has brought together community leaders for meetings to discuss issues such as economic development and housing, has considered such a partnership for months.

Among the issues was a confusion about its role, compounded by the attendance of council members at its meetings.

“We try not to make decisions, but to be a forum for discussions,” said John K. Bartow Jr., the group’s chairman.

The council on Monday night showed an interest in keeping the group in its same form and membership, with council members holding informal memberships.

“Keeping it open-ended helps us, and empowers your committee as well,” Councilwoman Roxanne M. Burns said.

The matter will be taken up within the two bodies at their meetings at the beginning of September.

The council heard more about marketing the city from the Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce.

The city has considered new options following discontent with the 1000 Islands International Tourism Council’s management of www.visitwatertown.com.

Receiving a proposal from the Tourism Council for about $39,000 in projects, City Manager Sharon A. Addison said she cut items to get to an offer of $20,500.

“I pared down what I thought were valuable pieces,” she said.

The city allocated about $60,000 of its budget for marketing.

The chamber’s pitch Monday included items ranging from an updated walking and biking brochure for $4,200 to an enhanced social media presence for $5,000, or $7,000 in welcome packets for new residents.

“It’s not just tourism; it’s economic development as well,” said Sara C. Carpenter, the chamber’s marketing director.

The council said it wanted to coordinate with other municipalities and groups before moving forward.

On Monday, it also was revealed that City Engineer Kurt W. Hauk will step down from his position Sept. 12 to take a position at Fort Drum’s Department of Public Works. He was hired by the city in 2006.

Among his recent highlights was the completion of the Thompson Park Zoo pavilion.

“We’re sad to see him go,” Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham said.

Ms. Addison said the city will appoint an interim engineer from its staff until Mr. Hauk’s replacement is hired.

Watertown marketing plans

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