LETTER: Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment Celebrates 40 Years

Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. The following information was provided by the Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment:

On Sunday, June 9, Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment gathered at our Annual Meeting and Potluck at the Belmont/Watertown United Methodist Church to celebrate our 40th anniversary. Forty years ago, the worst accident at a U.S. nuclear power plant took place at the Three Mile Island plant in Pennsylvania. That was 1979, and in response to that seminal event, Watertown Citizens for Environmental Safety was born. We later became Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment.

LETTER: Thank You to Our Local Government for Cleanup

On Saturday, April 27, members and supporters of Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice & the Environment again participated in the annual Charles River Cleanup. The general impression is that there was less trash this year; the ban on single-use thin plastic shopping bags works! However, we were appalled to discover a nearby stretch of property being used as a dumping ground for construction debris. Old windows, carpeting, tiles among other trash were among the objects we found. This was too much for us to be able to remove.

OP-ED: State Senator on the Bad Week for the MBTA

The following piece was written by State Sen. Will Brownsberger, who represents Watertown, Belmont and parts of Boston:

It has been a very bad week for the MBTA. Two train derailments injured dozens and massively inconvenienced hundreds of thousands of people. 

As I write, no one seems to know yet how long it will take to repair critical signal systems that the derailed train destroyed. Red line riders may have to endure diminished service and extraordinary rush hour crowding for days or weeks. While expediting repairs, the MBTA has rightly brought in an outside consulting team to review the events. The legislature will take great interest in the results of that review. 

For me, here is the big question: What will that review reveal about the work force and operational management of the MBTA? We knew that from time to time scheduled bus trips simply don’t happen because an employee doesn’t show up. We know that the MBTA’s derailment rate is high. We knew that a terrifying runaway train incident was triggered by an operator disabling a safety device. Investigators have already concluded that the recent green line derailment was operator error. 

While safety is always nominally the number one mission of any transit agency, how strong is the safety culture really? Are line managers overextended and under too much pressure to deliver timely service with inadequate staffing? What do these incidents say about employee morale and discipline? As legislators, we tend to focus less on operational conditions, which are hard to evaluate from outside, and more on the issues of system repair and service expansion. My impression has been and remains that the MBTA’s board and leadership team have been doing a very good job in turning around a state of physical system decay that was produced by decades of inadequate investment.

LETTER: Watertown Group Holding Vigil Against Starting War with Iran

The following information was provided by Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice & the Environment:

Donald Trump is threatening war on Iran. On Sunday, May 19, he tweeted that a fight between our two countries would mark, “the official end of Iran.” These genocidal threats cannot go unchecked. Military experts are warning that a war with Iran would be horrific. Our friend Colonel Larry Wilkerson recently stated that the conflict would be, “a disaster that will make the 10 years in Iraq look like child’s play by comparison.” 

Watertown Citizens will rally with Massachusetts Peace Action in Watertown Square on Saturday, June 1 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. We will raise awareness of this crisis and protest the Trump Administration’s reckless rhetoric and attempts to destabilize yet another Middle Eastern country. We will urge our representatives to support the Prevention of Unconstitutional War with Iran Act (H.R. 2354).

OP-ED: Sen. Brownsberger’s Update on Proposed MBTA Bus Changes

The following piece was provided by State Sen. Will Brownsberger, who represents Watertown, Belmont and parts of Boston. The MBTA has been listening carefully to public feedback about the 47 cost-neutral bus route changes that service planners are proposing across the region. At their meeting on April 8, the MBTA’s board offered a “sense of the board” supporting 36 of the proposals. Board members deferred final approval to give themselves time to review in full detail the equity analysis for the whole package. When final approval is provided, as appears likely, the package will be the most significant set of route changes in memory.

LETTER: Answers Wanted About Excavation Done Without Warning Neighbors

Neighbors of the project at 71 Salisbury Road say the excavation has impacted their properties, and they did not receive notice. (The following letter also was sent to Town of Watertown officials)

In 2016, discussions began in Watertown about a proposed development behind our Templeton Parkway home, on a steep, rocky 0.10 acre property with a large seam of ledge at 71 Salisbury Road. Concerns were clearly expressed about potential damage to neighboring properties that heavy excavation of the ledge might cause. My next door neighbor talked with the developer about this concern. Councilor Kounelis sent a message of concern to the Planning Department.

LETTER: Kudos to Watertown’s Town Engineer for Winning Award

Editor:

Matt Shuman, Watertown’s Town Engineer, was honored at the Charles River Watershed Association’s annual meeting last week. He received their Rita Barron Public Official Award for his efforts with the Edenfield Avenue Green Street project. This was a project to install innovative green infrastructure elements in a major road reconstruction project on Edenfield Ave. According to CRWA, “Matt was deeply involved with the design and engineering of the tree trenches and bioswales that were introduced into the public right of way. The project not only acts as a traffic calmer, it treats a substantial amount of polluted storm-water runoff, recharging it into the ground rather than sending it into the Charles River.” This project was featured in a U.S. EPA online workshop on Green Street approaches, and has provided useful lessons-learned for design of green infrastructure stormwater approaches in future Watertown road reconstruction projects.

LETTER: Resident Not Happy With District’s Response to Asbestos in Schools

Dear Editor,

In the concluding paragraph of your February 7, 2019 “… Schools are Safe” article, Town Council President Mark Sideris proffered a blanket criticism:

“I see comments that are completely false and people take it as what is true, but it’s not.”

In fairness, can you ask Council President Sideris to be specific? Whose comments? What’s “not true”? Can Mary Russo – or anyone who is being accused of making “completely false” statements – be given a chance to respond? Please note that Mary Russo, a long-time respected teacher and resident, forced the Watertown Public Schools administration to comply with the law by filing a complaint in 2017 with the state Department of Labor Standards. The state issued sanctions and fines. The school administration did not just “decide to do another survey” as the Superintendent claims.  Watertown had no choice. Leaving out that context disrespects Ms. Russo and undermines the ability of citizens and the press to fairly judge the credibility of the parties making statements about these issues. 

Thanks for your consideration. Sincerely,Paul Davis