A gate next to a parking area on the East End of Watertown will be closed after the Council approved a request made by nearby residents.
The entrance to Filippello Park sits next to an area known as Glen Circle, which is at the end of Berkeley and Clarnedon streets.
Residents of those streets have appealed multiple times to the Town to make changes in the area because they cannot find parking in the lot until the late hours of the evening and they said some park users speed down their street to get to the park, and others linger afterward drinking, smoking and making noise.
Neighbors spoke about their situation in a meeting in March of the the Public Works and Human Services subcommittees. The subcommittees met again in May to come up with recommendations.
Councilor Ken Woodland said he opposed the closing because he did not see evidence that it was necessary, and said the Council is just responding to neighbor’s complaints.
“We are doing what’s easy, as opposed to what is right,” Woodland said. “People living in the area don’t want people driving down their street and parking there. They say people were speeding and it was unsafe. The (subcommittee) didn’t look into that.”
Woodland said the committee should have gotten information from Police, the Department of Public Works and the Recreation Department about what they have observed in Glen Circle.
“This is setting a bad precedent,” Woodland said.
Councilor Angeline Kounelis, who represents the East End, disagreed. Most of the homes on Berkeley Street are row houses, which were built without driveways.
“This is a very unique area. I don’t think we are setting a precedent,” Kounelis said.
The parking area predates the creation of Filippello Park, Kounelis said, and the in 1983 the Town Council indicated that access point at Glen Circle should remain closed.
“I stated repeatedly that I was not aware of it in 1999 when the access opened,” Kounelis said. “It is disrespectful to the Council of 1983 and to residents to let it happen.”
Councilor Lisa Feltner noted that the Town staff had concerns the closing of the gate, including limiting access to Filippello Park users, and that pickup and drop off could no longer take place in Glen Circle. Given that, she said she felt uneasy supporting the motion.
The Council 7-1 to close the gate, with Woodland opposed. Feltner voted “present.”
Council Vice President Vincent Piccirilli said the closing of the gate was just one of a package of changes meant to help the situation in the area.
The other recommendations include allowing overnight parking in the winter in the parking lot on the Grove Street side of the park (except along the driveway), and to have the Council’s Public Works subcommittee look at other improvements to Glen Circle. These include: signage, striping, lighting, stormwater, and landscaping. The Council approved these recommendations unanimously
Also, the Council voted to ask the Traffic Commission look into creating a pickup/drop off areas on Arlington Street near Filippello Park. Woodland opposed this saying that he believes that area would be more dangerous than Glen Circle, but the Council approved it 8-1.