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Watertown City Council members to discuss urbanized area designation

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The Watertown City Council will find out more Monday night about how the city will be affected by the federal Metropolitan Statistical Area and Metropolitan Planning Organization designations.

Council members plan to discuss the MSA when they meet for a work session at 7 p.m. They initially discussed it a few weeks ago with City Engineer Kurt W. Hauk and Eugene P. Hayes, superintendent of public works, but decided they needed to spend more time getting the lowdown on how it might affect the city.

After gathering information during its last survey, the U.S. Census Bureau declared the greater Watertown area — which includes parts of Dexter, LeRay and Carthage and has a population of 57,840 — an urbanized region.

The designation might affect federal funding and economic development, especially with public transportation and roads, according to city officials.

The city, Jefferson County and the regional state Department of Transportation have to put together the planning organization by March 23. The three entities’ representatives met Wednesday to talk about “crafting” a memorandum of understanding on how to implement the plan, said Elliott B. Nelson, confidential assistant to the city manager.

Council members “will get an explanation” of the plan, learn more about what it means to the city and finalize the memorandum when they meet Monday night, Mr. Nelson said.

“It adds another level of bureaucracy,” he said.

Under the program, the greater Watertown area will have its own planning organization, which will be responsible for coordinating state and federal funding of highway and bridge projects as well as public transit.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will have to sign before the organization becomes official, Mr. Hauk said.

The council work session will take place in the third-floor council chambers in City Hall.

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