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City won’t take over Palmer Street section

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Any plans for the city to take over a portion of Palmer Street have hit another dead end.

The subject of making the privately-owned stretch — which has not been well maintained and is riddled with potholes — came up at Monday night’s Watertown City Council meeting.

Despite unsuccessful lobbying attempts by Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham, the majority of City Council reiterated opposition in the city taking over the privately owned section of the street, from Emmett Street to Wealtha Avenue.

“The city continues to patch it at public expense and plow it at public expense,” Mr. Graham said. “While we can technically argue it’s not a city street, by doing that, we certainly suggest to the public that it is a publicly-sanctioned thoroughfare since we maintain it poorly.”

Mayor Graham contended that the narrow street without sidewalks is unsafe because many children live in the 70-unit Palmer Street Apartments.

But council members Teresa R. Macaluso and Joseph M. Butler Jr. said the city should hold off in designating that section a city-designated street.

“I’m not totally opposed to fixing it,” Ms. Macaluso said. “I just have no interest in doing that right now.”

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.

While the mayor said he has received complaints about its condition, Mr. Butler told him that no one has come to him about the road condition.

Councilwoman Roxanne M. Burns said she agreed the road is unsafe, while Councilman Stephen A. Jennings said the city should consider other solutions.

Figuring out ownership also is a problem with taking over the road, City Attorney Robert J. Slye said. In the past, the city unsuccessfully tried to figure out titleship of that section of the road.

The Palmer Street section between Arsenal and Emmett streets already is under the city’s jurisdiction — it became a city-dedicated street in 1897. The ownership of the section between Emmett Street and the apartment complex may be in question because the city was never able to resolve that issue when it looked into it in 2005.

If the ownership issue was resolved, Mr. Slye said the city would need to obtain a court order to acquire the street.

If nothing changes with that issue, the city should consider closing off that section, saying it is unsafe, Mr. Graham said.

In the past, Palmer Street residents have been divided over the issue.

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