Mayor’s Report: A good year for Watertown and its residents

What a year! So many good things have happened in Watertown, and we have a lot to look forward to in the new year.

Do you remember the City of Watertown’s 2013 mission statement? It was:

The City of Watertown is a small tightly-knit city that is welcoming, friendly, and supportive with a vibrant downtown that enables neighbors, friends, and family to meet, socialize, and enjoy life.

Thank you to the Watertown Chamber of Commerce. You have been a leader in making our City mission a reality. Also, I thank the City Council members, the City staff, the City Commissioners, all the City organizations, the churches, the Watertown Fire Department, our local deputy sheriff, and the Watertown-Mayer School District for contributing to making Watertown a great and safe place to live, work, and play.

Now, let’s review the past year:

1. The City Council provided the citizens with open house events to study the options for the Lewis Avenue South and Territorial Street Intersection. Based on input from citizens and research by City and County engineers, the Council chose a roundabout.

2. With great input from our business owners and from other citizens, the Council voted to keep the present bridge open to traffic during the construction of the new bridge.

3. A new Wi-Fi park was created on the corner of Lewis Avenue South and Madison Street SW with Frontier Communications providing free wireless internet service. The City received a Blandin Foundation grant to help pay for installing wireless internet at the Watertown downtown businesses, if owners choose to have it.

4. Napa Auto Parts will be staying in Watertown when they move to 228 Lewis Ave. S.

5. A new three-unit building complex, which will house the new Subway Restaurant as well as another business and office, is in the process of being built on 609 Jefferson Ave. SW.

6. Watertown Liquor Store opened for business at 310 Lewis Avenue South.

7. A thrift store (Eco Thrift), which provides items from the Douglas Kugler Eco Site Recycling Center, opened at 142 Lewis Ave.

8. The Hoffman Harness Shop at 205 Lewis Ave. S. will be the home of the new Watertown Area Historical Society Museum.

9. Our Watertown Library was remodeled and more computers were added thanks to the financial support of our citizens, business owners, Watertown Lions, Watertown Legion, Watertown City and Carver County.

10. The Watertown-Mayer School District completed the remodeling of the Primary School Building in September in time for the start of the school year. Their “1-1 initiative of having iPads for each student to move into a 21 Century Higher Level Learning School format” has made the Watertown-Mayer School District an area leader in advanced technology learning. We were and are “ahead of the game” in using technology for excellence in learning.

11. The River City Theatre Company provided wonderful performances, including the play in cooperation with the Watertown Historical Society about Isaac Lewis, a founder of Watertown.

12. The Watertown Area Fine Arts Council sponsored first-class entertainers at the Performing Arts Center.

13. A “Picnic and Arts in the Park” event was sponsored by The Watertown Area Historical Society, the Watertown Area Fine Arts Council, the Carver County Historical Society, and the Arts Consortium of Carver County.

14. The City of Watertown, Watertown Lions, and American Legion provided financial support for many of our Watertown-Mayer School District and Watertown community events and organizations. The Watertown Lions have contributed $48,000 for the development of the Watertown Community Park.

15. The Rails to Trails Festival was a huge success with the Chamber, Lions, City Council, City staff, and many city organizations working together.

16. The flowers in downtown Watertown were absolutely spectacular thanks to the hard work of Diane Hirsch (husband Jerry), Sue Magnuson, and the rest of the Watertown Flower Club, including some of the Women of Watertown (WOW) members.

17. Our City Administrator took another position; a new City Administrator will be hired by March 2014.

18. The annual Trick or Treat event sponsored by The Watertown Chamber of Commerce drew at least 500 children and their parents to the downtown.

19. The Watertown Retailers Association again held the Watertown Holiday Open House, concluding with the lighting of the downtown holiday lights. Again, the Watertown City Center Parks lights were spectacular thanks to the Watertown City Public Services staff.

20. The Watertown Commission on Aging, with financial support from the Lions and the Legion, sponsored the Watertown senior holiday dinner. Over 120 people enjoyed the free dinner catered by Bill Sullivan and Elim Home and the Christmas music performances by Watertown-Mayer School District band and choir.

21. The annual Santa Day was hosted by the Mayer-Watertown DandyLions with music performed by Mary Lou Jirik’s piano students. The Watertown Willing Workers 4-H Club sponsored a gift shop so children could buy presents for family members. There was also an opportunity to write letters and visit Santa.

22. Finally, Watertown area citizens can look forward to a new Chinese restaurant opening this spring on Lewis Avenue South and many more wonderful happenings in the new year.

Please excuse me if I did not list other important events. There were more events sponsored by our local churches and local organizations, but too numerous to include in this long list.

What was not done? The Downtown Senior Citizen Development on Lewis Avenue South was not built and the Watertown Coffee Shop stayed closed. There was a great effort by the City staff, City Economic Development Authority, City Council, and by me, the mayor, to move the development forward by providing economic incentives and by meeting with the developers many times. We will continue to be productive in bringing this project to completion.

The Coffee Shop owner took the building off the market until the Lewis/Territorial intersection right-of-way negotiations with the County engineers are completed.

To sum up the 2013 Watertown year, let’s go back to the Watertown City’s 2013 mission statement: “The City of Watertown is a small tightly-knit city that is welcoming, friendly, and supportive with a vibrant downtown that enables neighbors, friends, and family to meet, socialize, and enjoy life.”

I believe our 2013 mission statement was fulfilled; I think that you will agree. And now we move forward to another exciting and prosperous new year for Watertown 2014!