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Library fountain restoration will move forward

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The crumbling, bowl-shaped stone fountains in front of Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library will be restored this summer.

The Watertown City Council agreed informally Monday night to proceed with the project, even though bids came back about $31,000 higher than had been budgeted. Council members agreed unanimously to select low bidder Raymond E. Kelley Inc., Seneca Falls, to complete the work on the $259,900 base bid.

“Let’s go ahead with the whole project,” Councilman Jeffrey M. Smith said.

The project will restore the fountains to the way they appeared when library benefactor Emma Flower Taylor had them installed in 1906, two years after the library opened.

The work includes restoring the cracked facade of the historic building, the marble front steps, fencing near the public sidewalk and one of the stone lions that greet library visitors. Work could start as soon as June and should take only a few weeks, said Kenneth A. Mix, city planning and community development coordinator.

Worried about damaging the lion if it’s moved during the restoration, the company will deduct $6,500 if it is restored on its base, Mr. Mix said. When the contract comes up next week, council members will decide whether to spend as much as $22,500 more to replace a stone piece on the porch and clean all of the marble stonemasonry and fencing.

Council members had hoped to have the project completed last year, but it had to be delayed after the city received no bids. This time, the Seneca Falls firm and three others submitted bids.

Visitors will be prohibited from walking on the lawn and sidewalk in front of the library once construction begins. The building’s front entrance has been closed to the public for more than a year because of fears that the soffit could become loose and fall off.

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