Watertown mayor emphasizes downtown’s image during state of the city speech

Watertown Mayor Charlotte Johnson gave her first state of the city address at last Wednesday’s Chamber of Commerce meeting at B’s On The River. (News staff photo by Matt Bunke)
Watertown Mayor Charlotte Johnson gave her first state of the city address at last Wednesday’s Chamber of Commerce meeting at B’s On The River. (News staff photo by Matt Bunke)

New Watertown mayor Charlotte Johnson delivered her first state of the city address last Wednesday at B’s On The River, speaking before a room full of Watertown’s business people during a Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Johnson’s speech reflected the nature of the crowd as she spoke extensively on her vision for Watertown and its downtown area, and particularly how businesses can help improve that business district.

“There are so many business owners that have done wonderful things with their buildings to make them attractive, and they have definitely improved our downtown’s image,” she said. “We’re already on our way, but we can create an even better image of our overall downtown.”

Johnson stressed the small things that businesses can do to help the downtown area become a more inviting place. Whether that’s planting flowers outside the business, keeping the windows clean or simply sweeping the sidewalks, Johnson said that presenting a welcoming atmosphere is an important aspect of drawing people downtown.

Johnson also stressed that downtown should be a place not just for commerce, but a place the entire community can enjoy, whether people are  shopping or just enjoying the city. She said preliminary plans are in the works for the possibility of building a bandstand downtown on the vacant lot at Lewis Avenue and Madison Street.

“To follow our vision for a vibrant downtown, we need events,” she said. “A beautiful bandstand and music will add to the ambiance and charm of our downtown, and more important, will draw people downtown.”

Johnson also spoke of the importance of having strong communication with local residents. She plans to have her first Mayor’s listening session Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. at R&B’s Cafe for anybody who wishes to speak with her.

Johnson said she also plans to meet with a group of young mothers to learn more about their ideas and how the city can best serve young children and families, and she also hopes to meet with local teenagers to find out their concerns, desires or suggestions for the city.

“Communication is vital,” Johnson said. “I have a personal goal to communicate with citizens and businesses. My intent is primarily to listen to your suggestions and concerns.”

Johnson also took a moment to highlight some of the city’s achievements in the last year, most notably the final approval of  a downtown assisted living facility. Work is expected to begin in April.

“We will have new residents, new jobs and new tax revenue,” Johnson said.

Johnson also commended the school district for its new iPad initiative this year, which she said puts the local school district “right up with the big district’s for up-to-date technology.” She also stressed the importance of the upcoming bridge replacement project, which she said hopefully will be “replaced soon and quickly.”

In conclusion, Johnson noted that a strong community effort can help make Watertown an even better place to live.

“We have a wonderful image, but we can improve it,” she said. “We need downtown events, and we have our great Watertown organizations to bring about our vision. All that is left is to organize, to activate, and promote, promote, and promote some more the City of Watertown. Let’s do it together.”

Contact Matt Bunke at [email protected]