Affordable Housing in Watertown On the Agenda for Council Subcommittee

The Town Council’s Committee on Human Services provided the following announcement:
The Town Council’s Committee on Human Services will continue its discussion of affordable housing at its meeting this Thursday, October 4, at 7:15 p.m. in the Town Council Chambers on the second floor of Town Hall. 
The theme for this meeting is “Affordable Housing Development” and will include presentations by Jennifer Van Campen, Executive Director of MetroWest Collaborative Development, State Representative Michael Connolly, and Steve Magoon, Watertown’s Assistant Town Manager and Director of the Department of Community Development and Planning. Town Councilor Tony Palomba chairs the Committee on Human Services. Councilor Caroline Bays is the Committee’s Vice –Chair, and Councilor Susan Falkoff is the Committee’s Secretary

Progressive Watertown Hosts Event to Prep for Mid-Term Election

The following announcement was provided by Progressive Watertown:
As the Election Day, November 6 approaches Progressive Watertown and the Watertown Democratic Town Committee invites you to a special program. Come join us at, Preppin’ for the Mid-Terms – Building the #Blue Wave on Monday, October 1 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Coolidge Apartments, 319 Arlington Street. Come hear from the campaigns, learn about the three ballot questions and find out how you can help!  Our special guest is Lt. Governor Candidate Quentin Palfrey.  For more information, please contact Rita Colafella at colafella@gmail.com.

Changes to Bring Your Own Bag Rules Passed, Won’t Take Effect Immediately

The Town Council approved changes to the Bring Your Own Bag ordinance on Tuesday, which bans stores from handing out single-use plastic bags, but the changes will not take effect right away. The changes came about after some stores began using plastic bags that complied with the rules of initial BYOB Ordinance, but the bags did not meet the goals of the people who first proposed the rules, said Councilor Ken Woodland. “The Bring Your Own Bag Ordinance originally allowed reusable bags by their thickness, but some were skirting the intent of the Ordinance,” Woodland said. The original ordinance allowed plastic bags that are 4 mils or thicker, but the changes remove that allowance, and adds a definition of reusable bags. The new ordinance reads that it must be “sewn bags with stitched handles designed for multiple use.”

Applications Sought for Members of Community Preservation Committee

Town Manager Michael Driscoll seeks applicants to be members of the Watertown Community Preservation Committee, the group that will propose ways to use the money raised by the Community Preservation Act (CPA) tax surcharge. The committee includes four at-large members, who will must be Watertown residents, and meet certain criteria, including being connected to different constituencies in Town, bring skills related to the committee’s task, bring an outlook that may not be heard through normal channels, and value new approaches and ideas to identifying projects. The CPA funds can be used on open space, historic preservation or affordable housing projects. The Town Manager’s office sent out following information:

Town Manager Michael J. Driscoll is seeking four (4) Watertown citizens interested in serving on the Community Preservation Committee. The Committee is being formed as a result of the voters of the Town of Watertown approving the provisions of G.L. c.44B, the Community Preservation Act; and the Honorable Town Council subsequently adopting an Ordinance Establishing a Community Preservation Committee.

Panel of Voters Met in Watertown, Created Guide for 2018 Nursing Ballot Question

This November, Massachusetts voters will be asked to vote on a ballot initiative about nurse staffing at hospitals in the Bay State. The information about Question 1 can be confusing, with both sides making similar claims. However, a group of voters from around the state studies the issue intensely and came up with a statement to help voters make up their mind. 

Twenty Massachusetts voters gathered at the Watertown Free Public Library a couple weeks ago and got the the chance to hear from the campaigns for and against Question 1. The effort, known as the Citizens Initiative Review, was a organized by Watertown State Rep. Jonathan Hecht in partnership with Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life and Healthy Democracy, the organization that pioneered CIR in Oregon and others states. The nurse staffing ballot question seemed to be one that would benefit from a deeper examination, Hecht said. “This one is especially well suited to this type of process,” Hecht said.

State Rep. Jonathan Hecht Hosting Office Hours Twice in October

The following announcement was provided by State Rep. Jonathan Hecht’s office:
Representative Jonathan Hecht will hold office hours twice in Watertown this October. Constituents are invited to meet with Representative Hecht at the following times and locations:
Thursday, Oct. 4
5:30-6:30 p.m.
Watertown Free Public Library
123 Main St, Raya Stern Trustees Room

Tuesday, Oct. 16
8:30-9:30 a.m.
Watertown Town Hall
149 Main St, 3rd Floor hallway

Anyone unable to attend these office hours can call Representative Hecht at 617-722-2140 to schedule an appointment at another time.

LETTER: Governor’s Councilor Devaney Thanks Her Supporters

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to each of the 51,781 people who voted for my reelection as your Governor’s councillor. Thank you for putting my sign on your lawn, or standing out for me – or saying a kind word about me along the way, I am grateful. I am so grateful that you believe in me and did not believe the lies and specious attacks on me. My campaign took the high road based on my proven record and reforms I have made on the Governor’s Council. I am honored to work for you as your Governor’s Councillor.

Planning Board Approves Having Biotech Companies at Arsenal Yards

The Planning Board gave its approval to allow biotech labs to be located on the second floor of the historic building in the former Arsenal Mall where Marshall’s is located. 

The proposal by Boylston Properties, the developer of Arsenal Yards, had been delayed a month because there were questions about whether labs where biotech research should be located in the same building where retail and restaurants will be located. There was concern that the Town of Watertown did not have the same local safeguards as other area communities. Wednesday night the Planning Board heard from the developers, who also brought in consultants who work with biotech companies and outfit buildings for such lab use. Mark Deschenes from Boylston Properties said his firm did a study of biotech companies in the area and that there are already at least 23 biotech companies in Watertown, with most in East Watertown, and a few on the Westside. He added that there are several examples of biotech companies sharing buildings with retail and other businesses, and that are located near residential buildings.