Town Councilors Disappointed That Starting Date For Watertown Shuttle is Still Uncertain

Progress on getting shuttle buses on the roads of Watertown appears to have stalled, with no start date in sight. The news disappointed Town Councilors and others at the Economic Development and Planning subcommittee meeting. In August, coordinators of the Watertown TMA (Transportation Management Association) hoped to get a pilot for a shuttle on Pleasant Street started by the spring of 2018. On Tuesday night, Michele Brooks from TransAction Associates, the firm hired by the Watertown TMA to mange the TMA, said the start of the shuttle will have to wait. She has been meeting with the TMA’s Board of Directors, which includes members paying into the TMA.

Long Time Watertown Building Inspector Passes Away

Watertown Building Inspector Ken Thompson passed away on April 2, 2018. He had worked for the Town’s Planning Department for nearly 14 years. 

Thompson always had a quick wit, remembered Steve Magoon, the Assistant Town Manager and Director of the Department of Economic Development and Planning. “He was someone who was big in stature and had a real big presence, independent of his size,” Magoon said. “He always had a quick wit and joke to offer for everyone which would lighten the mood when things got intense.” Thompson, 72, of Lynnfield, would have worked for the Town for 14 years in June, Magoon said, and he was not only the local building inspector but also the building commissioner.

Mixed Use Condo and Retail Project on Mt. Auburn Street Gets Approved

A project that will build three stories of condos on top of a level of commercial or retail space got the approval of the Watertown Zoning Board of Appeals on Wednesday. 

The building at 33 Mt. Auburn Street will have 15 condos and 1,924 sq. ft. of commercial or retail space. It will go on the property near Watertown Square (across Taylor Street from the New Yorker Diner) that has been vacant for several years and was once the home of Port Oil.

Find Out When You Can Meet with State Rep. Jonathan Hecht

Representative Jonathan Hecht will hold office hours twice in Watertown this April. Constituents are invited to meet with Representative Hecht at the following times and locations:
Wednesday, April 11, 8:30-9:30 a.m.: Watertown Town Hall, 149 Main St, 3rd Floor hallway
Tuesday, April 17, 5:00-6:00 p.m., Watertown Free Public Library, 123 Main St, Raya Stern Trustees Room
Anyone unable to attend these office hours can call Representative Hecht at 617-722-2140 to schedule an appointment at another time.

Winter Overnight Parking Ban Lifted Early

Watertown’s overnight parking ban ends Thursday, Watertown Police Chief Michael Lawn announced. The Town sent out the following announcement:

Chief Lawn would like to inform you that Watertown has lifted its enforcement of the all night parking ban effective Thursday March 29, 2018. The Department of Public Works, Police Department and Fire Department would like to remind motorists that keeping the streets clear allows for road repairs, street cleaning and easy access for public safety vehicles. To that end, all Departments encourage residents to make full use of off-street parking when it is available

Town Council Approves List of Complete Streets Projects Around Watertown

The list of Complete Street Projects in Watertown which Town officials hope to get state funding to complete was adopted by the Town Council on Tuesday night. 

Complete Streets is a practice to make roadways accessible to as many users as possible, including drivers, bicyclists, pedestrians and public transportation. The list includes 24 projects, with four that will be put forward for funding this year. The projects were narrowed down from more than 150 suggestions collected from the public and the Town at meetings in December and reported back their findings at a meeting in March. A list of at least 15 projects had to be submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) by April 1, and the list for the Construction Application for this year is due by May 1, according to the town’s consultants from Alta Planning + Design. The list includes a variety of projects, including construction of sections of the Community Path (a pedestrian and bike path through Watertown), improving crosswalks, making safe routes to school, improving pedestrian safety, and traffic calming on some roads.

Comprehensive Criminal Justice Reform Legislation Moves Forward in State House

State Sen. Will Brownsberger, from Belmont who represents Watertown, announced that House and Senate have released legislation that would reform the criminal justice system in Massachusetts. Brownsberger included a detailed summary of the legislation on his website. Some of the changes would be:

Strengthen mandatory minimum penalties for opiate trafficking offenses
Reducing minimum mandatory penalties for non-opiate drug offenses
Creating alternatives to prosecution or incarceration for minor offenses
Decriminalizing some minor offenses
Strengthen protections for public safety, including penalties for some types of crime, including corporate manslaughter, homicide by motor vehicle, unlawful possession of a credit card scanner, and high number of repeat OUIs. Improving prisons, and reducing the use of solitary confinement

(Read the entire summary on Brownsberger’s website by clicking here)

Below is the press release from legislators who worked on the legislation:
House and Senate legislators filed their final criminal justice reform conference report with the Senate Clerk on Friday. The consensus legislation is a comprehensive review of the Commonwealth’s criminal justice system.

Project on Long Vacant Spot on Mt. Auburn St. Gets Nod from Planning Board

A proposal to build a condominium building on a vacant piece of land near Watertown Square got the recommendation of the Planning Board on Monday night. A similar project at 33 Mt. Auburn St. received approval from the Town in 2013 and building permits were issued, but the construction never started and the permits elapsed. The old project had 24 rental units and 1,979 sq.