RFP: Downtown-Riverfront Parks Connection Feasibility Study for the City of Watertown, New York

The City of Watertown is requesting proposals from qualified consultants to prepare a Downtown-Riverfront Parks Connection Feasibility Study. Connecting downtown to the riverfront has long been a major goal of the City of Watertown, and this Feasibility Study will contain significant recommendations towards achieving that goal. The City was awarded a Strategic Planning and Feasibility Studies grant from the New York State Department of State, which will be used to pay for the plan. 

The City will use the Feasibility Study to improve connections for pedestrians and bicyclists from the City's downtown Public Square to two of its riverfront parks, the Veterans' Memorial Riverwalk and Whitewater Park. The Study will include survey work, topography studies, right of way analysis, preliminary design alternatives, cost estimates and implementation recommendations. 

This project will advance the vision created in the City of Watertown's 2010 draft Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP). Developing a pedestrian-oriented connection to draw people from Public Square to the downtown waterfront was the most important priority that citizens identified during the public participation process for the LWRP. This linkage is the most critical to the long-term success of the waterfront and to sustaining momentum for the continued revitalization of Public Square. 

A specific recommendation of the LWRP was to create a plan to address public access and circulation improvements within and between downtown and the waterfront. The City intends this Feasibility Study to fulfill that recommendation. 

In addition to serving City residents, the trail and park system is a regional attraction, drawing users from the nearby military base at Fort Drum, as well as the rest of Jefferson County, and other parts of New York State. The Black River attracts thousands of kayakers and rafters annually and offers biking and hiking opportunities along its shores. The City's trail and park system improvements will provide tourism and economic benefits on a local, regional, and state level. 

The Feasibility Study will include connection and design options, as well as projected costs to provide enhanced connections from the City's downtown Public Square to two of its riverfront parks, the Veterans' Memorial Riverwalk and Whitewater Park. The connection faces a topographic challenge, as there is a significant elevation change between Public Square and the riverfront, with narrow width of the right-of-way in certain locations. To determine the best course of action on how to make the connection, the Feasibility Study will provide preliminary design alternatives, cost estimates and recommendations on the best way to achieve the goal of connecting the downtown Watertown area with the riverfront parks. 

The City of Watertown, in recent years, has established real momentum in its downtown and waterfront revitalization efforts. Substantial public and private sector investments have been made in the very concentrated Public Square area and the City has continuously invested in the creation of trails and parks along the river. 

As an objective of the Feasibility Study, the City envisions creating a physical connection between these two assets, which would contribute significantly to the attractiveness and livability of the area. This will enable the City to overcome one of the most difficult identified pedestrian gaps. The new connection should not merely accommodate pedestrian movement between Public Square and the riverfront; it should actively encourage such pedestrian trips. 3 

Qualified firms will have a broad expertise in civil engineering, pedestrian and bicycle connection design, and capital improvement design. A New York State Department of State Local Waterfront Revitalization Program Environmental Protection Fund grant is funding this project. 

For the full RFP, see the Attached Document