(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.”
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.
Town officials invited the public to come give its ideas for how to redesign and improve Mt. Auburn Street in the area of Coolidge Avenue, while making the area more efficient for motor vehicles, buses, bicycles and pedestrians. Currently, the street has two lanes of traffic in each direction and parking on both sides of the street, but no dedicated bike lanes. Some ideas for changing the street include cutting the number of lanes of traffic to one each way with left turn lanes at intersections, adding bike lanes and making sidewalks wider in some places to allow easier crossings for pedestrians. Planning for all modes of transportation is known as Complete Streets.
Find out about plans to redesign Mt. Auburn Street through the business district of East Watertown and share your thoughts at a meeting hosted by the Watertown Department of Public Works on Jan. 30, 2018. The Watertown DPW sent out the following announcement:
COOLIDGE SQUARE OPEN HOUSE for a Mount Auburn Street Project Update
Date: Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Snow Date: Wednesday, February 7, 2018*
Time: 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Location: The Apartments at Coolidge School – Auditorium 319 Arlington Street, Watertown
Visitor parking is available in the front of the building and additional spaces are behind the building along the fence. All other spots are for residents only.
Explore the rich history, culture and cuisine of Watertown’s Coolidge Square in a special tour presented by Live Well Watertown and the Watertown Recreation Department.
The tour of the East End/Coolidge Square Shopping Area will be on Thursday, Aug. 18, from 6-7:30 p.m.
Leading the tours will be an expert on Watertown history and someone who has taught classes in healthy cooking. Audrey Jones Childs is Vice President of the Historical Society of Watertown, a third generation East End resident, and a History of Watertown Lecturer. Ilana Hardesty has taught healthy cooking programs in Greater Boston for many years and is now enrolled as a student in the Gastronomy program at Boston University.
The storefront on Mt. Auburn Street in Coolidge Square next to Dunkin Donuts sat quietly for a few years, but now it has been refreshed and has a new life as a yoga studio.
Owner Liz Padula opened Artemis Yoga in mid-December after completely renovating the former oriental rug shop. The studio offers two spaces for yoga, one on the ground floor and one in the basement. Artemis offers a variety of classes for people with a range of experience. “I hear that all the time – I am not flexible, I have no experience,” Padula said.
East Watertown native John Airasian was asked to give a history of Coolidge Square during the celebration of the new mural in the area. He provided a wealth of memories along with the history of the square in his speech – or love letter, if you will. Here are his remarks, which he supplemented with some stories during the celebration on Sept. 19, 2015.:
Coolidge Square is the heart of East Watertown and that heart has always beat strong and it keeps getting stronger. Let me take you back to the late ’40s and the ’50s in Coolidge Square.