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City’s damaged deck behind Maggie’s may not be repaired

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WATERTOWN — The City Council has shown no interest in spending the $33,000 that it would take to repair the damaged deck at Maggie’s on the River.

So it appears it may continue to go unused for yet another summer season.

“I don’t see council spending $33,000,” Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham said after asking if any council members wanted to support fixing the deck overlooking the Black River.

Councilwomen Roxanne M. Burns and Teresa R. Macaluso oppose spending more money on the controversial deck, damaged by high river waters in April.

The deck became a source of some controversy after the city paid $80,000 to construct it as part of Whitewater Park, and Maggie’s asked to use it for its business. State funding also was used.

It then took several years for the state to give the OK for the Newell Street restaurant and bar to use the deck to serve food and alcohol. Just two weeks ago, the state Department of State finally gave permission.

In recent months, council members have indicated it would create further controversy if the city decided to proceed with the repairs — even with the state finally granting its permission for Maggie’s to use the deck.

Ms. Burns recently suggested leasing the deck to Maggie’s owners for $1 and letting the restaurant make the repairs. But City Attorney Robert J. Slye said that strategy would not work because the owners still would have to pay more expensive prevailing wages since it’s on city-owned land and would not be considered a private project.

“It’s another season that it’s not been used,” Mayor Graham said.

The mayor said it also does not make sense to spend money to demolish it.

The deck was closed as soon as the damage to the front columns was discovered in mid-April.

The work would include repairing the columns, adding mesh filled with stone as protection and using pins to fasten the columns to river rocks.

Last month, the city’s engineering office received four quotes on how much it would cost to fix, ranging from $33,300 to $58,700.

The Department of State had expressed reservations about Maggie’s owners using the taxpayer-funded deck since it is a public access point for the river.

Critics have said the city should have avoided the issue years ago and has now been put in the position of having to defend itself from accusations that it used state funding to construct a deck for a private business.

Maggie’s co-owner Reginald J. Schweitzer Jr. did not return phone calls seeking comment.

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