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City hopes to make repairs to deck at Maggie’s on the River

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WATERTOWN — Another summer, and another summer that Maggie’s on the River has not been able to serve food and alcohol on the city-owned deck overlooking the Black River.

The deck was damaged from high river waters in April, and city officials hope to find out how much it will cost to fix.

City Engineer Kurt W. Hauk said last week that a contractor will look at the damaged front columns of the deck. The deck was closed as soon as the damage was discovered in mid-April, he said.

“Once it gets fixed, we’ll reopen it,” Mr. Hauk said.

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.

Maggie’s co-owner Reginald J. Schweitzer Jr. said he’s been waiting for the state to give permission for Maggie’s to use the deck for its Newell Street bar and restaurant. He does not expect for the state to act on the request to use the deck for another month, but now the damage also will hold up opening it up for patrons, Mr. Schweitzer said.

“It may be another lost summer,” he said.

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

Mr. Hauk hopes to have a contractor look at the damage after July 4, get the work started in late July and have it finished as quickly as possible. He hopes it will cost less than the legal $35,000 for the project to go out to bid.

The work would include connecting concrete columns to a wall, so the situation does not happen again, he said.

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.

Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham has supported Maggie’s using the deck. Last year, he had Dierdre K. Scozzafava, deputy secretary of state for local government and former 122nd District assemblywoman from Gouverneur, take a look at the deck to see what she thought about the situation. She concluded that it made sense for Maggie’s to use the deck.

Mayor Graham also sent letters to state comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and the regional comptroller’s office to get a ruling on whether the city could allow Maggie’s to use the deck.

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