Residents Fired Up Over Proposed Cell Phone Antennae in Watertown

Residents came out to express their concerns to the Town Council about proposed cell phone antennae in two locations in Watertown. The concern is not just about possible health concerns from having a cell antenna near homes, but also about the new regulations that make it more difficult for communities to deny new cell phone antenna locations. Keenan Brinn, representing ExteNet — which is petitioning for the antennae — said the company seeks to put up one antenna on a utility pole at 141 Palfrey Street and one on a pole at 550 Arsenal Street. The company also seeks to put one near the main intersection of Watertown Square, in the vicinity of Charles River Road, but that falls under the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s jurisdiction. “ExteNet is interested in building out the fifth generation cellular network, otherwise know as 5G,” Brinn said.

Town Council Approves Design Concepts for Mt. Auburn St. Reconstruction

After many meetings looking at the proposals to reconstruct Mt. Auburn Street, including the controversial road diet, the Town Council voted to approve the preliminary designs Tuesday. The project now moves to the state transportation officials for their input, but there are still many steps before it becomes a reality. 

The Town Council’s Public Works subcommittee recently held two meetings to take a closer look at the plans for the major corridor through town, particularly focusing on Coolidge Square and the business district near the intersection with Common  Street. Residents and business owners had a lot of concerns, ranging from reducing the lanes from two to one each way, loss of parking and loading areas for businesses, and bicycle and pedestrian safety. On Tuesday, Councilors weighed whether to approve the plans recommended by the Public Works Committee, and send them to the state’s Department of Transportation (MassDOT) for the 25 percent design review.

LETTER: Councilor Concerned About Impact of Mt. Auburn St. Project on Coolidge Square

(The following is an open letter sent by Town Councilor Angeline Kounelis to the team designing the Mt. Auburn Street Renovation)

Dear Mt. Auburn St. Team, et al,

Many thanks for your response that has been 3.5 months in the making. I echo the sentiments of local residents, who at my suggestion, have written to the Team, only to receive a response focused solely on the scripted design plan. 

Please do not insult me in a condescending manner by stating: “we would encourage you to view this video about implementing Road Diets in New Jersey.”

See How Much Property Tax Bills Will Increase for Watertown Residents Next Year

The average Watertown residential tax bill will be going up between $160 and $285 next year, depending on the type of property. 

Tuesday night, the Town Council approved the tax rates for Fiscal Year 2019, which includes as 23 percent residential exemption for qualifying properties. They also approved a 175 percent shift from residential to CIP (commercial, industrial and personal) properties. The exemption and shift were approved at the same rate as last year. The average tax bill for homeowners who live in their homes will rise: $160 for single-family homes, $285 for condominiums and two-family homes, and $367 for three-family homes. The rate will be $12.92 per $1,000 of assessed value of properties.

See Watertown’s Vote by Precinct in 2018 for Governor, Senate, Congress & the Ballot Questions

Watertown supported the Democrats by a wide margin in two major races, but the GOP got more votes in another key Massachusetts race. See how the vote broke down for these races, and in the three ballot questions. Elizabeth Warren received strong support in Watertown. The incumbent Democratic Senator got 73.7 percent of the vote, and received more than 1,000 votes in six of the town’s 12 precincts (3, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 10), with the most in Precinct 4 (1,211 votes). Republican Geoff Diehl had his strongest showing in Precinct 10, where he got 460 votes.

Big Voter Turnout in Watertown, See Which Candidates Got the Most Votes

With lines of voters waiting for the polls to open in Watertown and more than 3,000 early ballot cast, the 2018 State Election drew a heavier than expected voter turn out. As a result, the final tally of votes was delayed in Watertown. As of 10:40 p.m. only three of 12 precincts had been processed and posted, while ballots at three precincts had not even come into Town Hall. The final results were sent out by the Town Clerk’s office at 4:20 a.m. Wednesday. Town Clerk John Flynn expected a higher than normal turnout for a governor’s election, but not as high as it appears to be — likely over 60 percent of voters casting ballots.

Council Subcommittee Looking at Successful Examples of Affordable Housing

The Town Council Committee on Human Services will hold its sixth meeting on the topic of affordable housing on Wednesday, November 7 at 7:15 p.m.

The theme of this meeting is “Solutions/Case Examples.” The meeting will take place in the Lower Hearing Room on the ground floor of Town Hall. The guests presenting at the meeting include:

Kelly Donato, Assistant Housing Director, at the City of Somerville; Cliff Cook, member of the Watertown Housing Partnership; State Senator Will Brownsberger; and Rachel Heller, Executive Director of the Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association. For questions or more information contact call 781-644-3525 or email
councilorpalomba@gmail.com

Changes to Coolidge Square Get Recommendation of Council Subcommittee

A Town Council subcommittee recommended some significant changes to Mt. Auburn Street, including a redesign of one of the main intersections in Coolidge Square. 

Tuesday night, the Public Works Committee discussed the proposed changes to Mt. Auburn Street, east of School Street. The most significant change is the realignment of the intersection of Bigelow Avenue with Mt. Auburn Street, which also turns Kimball Road into a one-way street away from Mt.