Community Preservation Committee Looks to Get Process Rolling

The committee chosen to oversee the money raised by the Community Preservation Act in Watertown will be hiring a consultant and a part-time coordinator to educate the public and help figure out how the money will be distributed. Watertown voters approved the CPA in November 2016, and the property tax surcharge brings in about $2 million a year, plus the state will chip in matching funds (19 percent in Fiscal Year 2019). The money can be used on a variety projects, but they must relate to at least one of three areas: affordable housing, open space/recreation or historic preservation. At least 10 percent of the funds must be spent on, or saved in a fund for, each of the three areas. Elodia Thomas, chair of the Community Preservation Committee, said that she hopes that residents will become excited about the possibilities for the Community Preservation Act funds.

Marijuana Facility Approved for Medical Sales Wants to Sell for Recreational Use, Too

The group approved to open a medical marijuana dispensary in Watertown now seeks to also sell cannabis for adult use, also known as recreational marijuana. Tuesday night, Natural Selections (NS AJO Holdings Inc.) appeared before the Town Council’s Economic Development and Planning Committee to discuss the application. No decision was made but the subcommittee did not stand in the way of the application. The request is to run the dispensary in the same location as their medical marijuana facility, at 23 Elm Street, near the Residence Inn by Marriott and the Watertown Mall. The Zoning Board of Appeals approved the special permit needed by Natural Selections to open in Watertown in May 2017, and a few months later the Town Council approved the letter of non-opposition.

Two Opportunities to Meet with State Rep. Hecht in July

State Rep. Jonathan Hecht

The following announcement was provided by Rep. Hecht’s Office:

Representative Jonathan Hecht will hold office hours twice in Watertown in July. Constituents are invited to meet with Representative Hecht at the following time and location:

Friday, July 19, 9:00-10:00 a.m., Watertown Town Hall, 149 Main St., 3rd Floor hallway

Monday, July 22, 5:30-6:30 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.

Planning Board Supports Proposed Condo Building, Neighbors Have Concerns

The proposal for 101 North Beacon St. would build a three-story building with 28 condos. The new proposed condominium building at 101 North Beacon Street received good marks for its design and the fact that the units will be sold, not rented, but those living nearby worry it will have a negative impact their quiet neighborhood. On July 10, the Planning Board gave its recommendation that the project should be allowed to go ahead. The project will now go to the Zoning Board of Appeals for final approval.

LETTER: Resident Joins Race for Watertown Library Trustee

I recently pulled papers to run for the office of Watertown Free Public Library Trustee in the November 2019 election. In the coming weeks and months, I will be canvassing around town, initially gathering enough signatures to appear on the ballot, and getting to know voters and their thoughts about the future of the Watertown Public Library. First, I would like to introduce myself here to my fellow Watertown residents, and explain why I am running for Library Trustee. I am a lifelong Watertown resident. I grew up in the Irving Park neighborhood near Perkins School for The Blind in the 80s and 90s and about 13 years ago moved to the west side of town where I co-purchased a home with my sister.

Developer Eyeing Spot on Major Watertown Intersection for 40B Housing Project

An image from Google Maps showing the proposed site of a 113 unit 40B housing project at the corner of Coolidge Hill Road and Arlington Street. A developer has started the process to build a Chapter 40B residential project on a major intersection in East Watertown. Under the state law to encourage the building of affordable housing, 40B projects do not have to comply with many local zoning rules. The project is proposed for 19 Coolidge Hill Road, on the former E.H. Hinds Atlantic Plant property. The proposal, according to information submitted to the MassHousing Partnership (which oversees 40B projects), would have 113 rental units on the 0.9 acre lot, and would have 28 affordable units.

Funding to Design Arsenal Park Renovation Approved

A view of the planned renovation of Arsenal Park. The Watertown Town Council approved $250,000 to be spent on the design of the majority of Arsenal Park renovation, while another section is moving ahead with funding from the developers of Arsenal Yards. The money will be used to do the detailed designs to all of the park, except for the eastern most part, which is being worked on in conjunction with Arsenal Yards. The project includes a multipurpose field —including a softball field — a playground in the northwest corner with a new bathroom, a picnic area and an expanded splash pad. In addition, the plan includes two basketball courts and three tennis courts, next to a picnic area and space for community gardens.

UPDATED: Watertown Electrical Customers Moving to New Green Energy Program in Fall

Watertown’s new electricity plan will get half its energy from renewable sources, such as solar panels. NOTE: A fourth informational meeting has been added, see details below:

In September, Watertown residents will be transitioned to the Town’s new Electricity Choice Program, which gets half its power from renewable sources. Customers have a choice to opt out of the program, or to get a greater percentage of green electricity. The new renewable energy contract will be part of the state’s Community Choice Aggregation program. In May, the Town Council gave Town Manager Michael Driscoll the authority to approve a contract with a greater amount of renewable energy that required by the state.