LETTER: Disabled Parking Spaces Being Abused in Watertown

Editor,

The rampant and ongoing abuse of disabled parking spaces around Watertown and particularly by visitors to our schools is not just illegal (it can come with a hefty fine), but also shows no compassion or empathy for those of us who really need these spaces. I am the parent of a seventh grader and fifth grader at Watertown Public Schools, and also a wheelchair user. When I arrived at WMS on Tuesday for my son’s parent-teacher conference there was a car parked illegally in one of the disabled spaces. It did not have a disabled parking permit, and was also parked at such an angle that it encroached by several feet onto the hatched area that separates the two disabled spaces. This area provides essential space for a wheelchair user to get in/out of their vehicle or use a ramp.

LETTER: A Tribute to the Watertown Public Library

Watertown Free Public Library. As we near the 150th anniversary of the Watertown Public Library, I wanted to pay tribute to this invaluable institution that has had a profound impact on my life. When we think of libraries, often the first thing we think of is books. While the Watertown Library has a great selection of books and is also connected to the Minuteman Network catalogue, the library is so much more than books. In middle school, high school, and as an undergrad in college, I did not have a computer, so I relied on the library computers and internet to do my school work.

LETTER: State Legislature Should Pass Rep. Hecht’s Transparency Amendments

To the Editor:

Please note, this is my personal position not that of the Library Board of Trustees. The Massachusetts Legislature is the second oldest deliberative body in the world (after the U.K. Parliament). But far too often, no deliberation actually happens there. 

Thursday, Watertown State Rep. Jon Hecht fought to change this by filing three common sense transparency amendments to the House rules. His amendments focused on insuring that legislators have time to read what they’re voting on, and insuring that testimony at hearings and recorded votes in closed-door committee meetings are available to the public. They would have made a more democratic and transparent House — good government principles that Watertown residents like myself expect.

LETTER: East End Resident’s Property Negatively Impacted by Excavation for Project Next Door

Neighbors of the project at 71 Salisbury Road say the excavation has impacted their properties, and they did not receive notice. The following statement was presented to the Watertown Town Council on Jan. 22, 2019:

My wife and I bought a small house in Watertown 8 years ago and we have begun our family there. We love being in Watertown and intend to continue as a part of the community we have found here. In the past week a developer has begun construction on the lot abutting ours. They are constructing a spec house in place of the previous house which was razed 3 years ago when they acquired the land. This new house is to be put on the market as soon as it is completed. The developer delayed construction these years as they sought a solution to squeeze a two-family structure on the small lot but apparently decided that pursuing a special permit would invite too much push back.  

Now they have pulled a permit for construction ‘by right’ and as a first step have undertaken blasting away the large rock ledge upon which the old house was constructed. They have continued this excavation into a second week using two earth moving machines, one to blast the rock and one to scoop it into a line of waiting dump trucks, right up to the property lines on all sides. The grade has been lowered significantly across the entire parcel such that at my property line there is now a shear face of exposed soil and bedrock where the incline which used to continue from our property into theirs has been blasted away. 

As a result two mature maple trees on our property have had their roots exposed and torn away. No attempt whatsoever was made to protect these trees even though doing so would pose no impediment to the construction of the house which they have permitted. Only willful disregard for the impact on neighbors property and desire to remove as much of the existing topography as possible has led to the damaging of these trees.  

Roots of trees on properties abutting 71 Salisbury Road have been damaged by the excavation on the site.

OP-ED: Citizen Group Critical of Slow Roll Out of Watertown Shuttle

The following piece came from the Watertown Transportation Task Force:

The Watertown Transportation Task Force (WTTF) today released a report on the status of proposed shuttle buses for Pleasant Street and Arsenal Street, titled, “Shuttle Buses for Arsenal and Pleasant Streets: What’s Happened, What Hasn’t, Why?” The report is critical of the lack of progress made to date and recommends changes the Town should make going forward. The Task Force report describes the efforts to get shuttle buses running along Pleasant Street to Watertown Square and along Arsenal Street to a mass transit station. It recommends that the Town should fully enforce special permit conditions which require “proportionate financial participation” by developers to fund effective TMA shuttle operations. The WTTF has strongly advocated for shuttle service, but the report also proposes that Town funds should not go to any shuttle program until (1) a realistic multi-year financial analysis forecasts the budget for shuttle operations on each corridor and estimates any budget shortfall due to inadequate private funding, and (2) strong pre-conditions are set for all Town contributions to a shuttle program. The concept for the shuttles was that a Watertown Transportation Management Association (known as a TMA) would be created to implement transportation demand management programs for large new developments along these corridors which would include shuttle busses.

LETTER: Neighbors Upset by Two Story Addition 5 Feet From Rear Property Line

Neighbors on the back side of 73-75 Morse Street worry that having a two story garage right near their property line will hurt the value of their homes. Editor:

We are writing as a concerned and outraged neighborhood about an egregious construction situation at 73/75 Morse St. If this is allowed to be completed, it will set a precedent that could be repeated throughout Watertown. If stopped, it would set a precedent that this kind of thing isn’t allowed or tolerated in this town. The new owner-builder of this property has permission from the town to re-construct the two houses and garage that were there.

LETTER: Resident Reflects on Trip to Germany, Christmas Markets and the EU

To the Editor:

I had a lovely time visiting Christmas markets – Weihnachtsmarkt – in Germany with my best friend from first grade. In 1972 she settled in Munich with her German husband. For most of the years since then we have stayed in touch, and get together when she travels Stateside to visit family. This was my second time to Germany; the first in 1970. Here are a few takeaways from my latest adventure:

Germany is very clean.

OP-ED: Steps to Stop Your Kids from Drinking, Using Drugs

The following piece was signed by: Michael Lawn, Chief of Police, Laura Kurman, Senior Program Director, Wayside Multi-Service Center, Dede Galdston, Superintendent of Schools, and Larry Ramdin, Director of Public Health:

With the holiday season underway and the opening of retail marijuana shops in Massachusetts, adults are urged to pay special attention to teenagers’ behavior around alcohol and other drugs. The Watertown Youth Coalition’s (WYC) partner agencies, Wayside Multi-Service Center, and the Watertown Police, Schools and Health Departments remind adults that teen alcohol and marijuana use can lead to unsafe behaviors that put their health and safety at risk. After all, it is all our responsibility, as a community, to help teens make healthy decisions and stay safe. Underage substance use affects everyone in the community and delaying use has shown to be protective as every year a teen does not use alcohol, the odds of lifelong dependence decrease by 15 percent. In the most recent Watertown Youth Risk Behavior Survey, administered to middle and high school students last year, of those who reported drinking, most reportedgetting alcohol from older siblings /friends or from home without their parents’ knowledge.