Partnership Between Town, Arsenal Yards to Renovate Town Park Over Before it Began

An overhead view of Arsenal Park. The long red building is the Arsenal Mall, and to the left is the Commander’s Mansion and the Arsenal on the Charles complex. A public-private partnership between the Town of Watertown and the developers of Arsenal Yards, which was to speed up renovation of part of Arsenal Park, has ended, Town Manager Michael Driscoll announced Tuesday night. A disagreement over a construction management fee that Boylston wanted to charge the Town to oversee the construction was the main sticking point, according to Driscoll, who read from a letter from the Town’s attorney Mark Reich of KP Law. “Of particular concern, and the primary impetus for this letter, is the insistence of Mr. (William) McQuillan that the Town pay Boylston Properties a 5 percent construction management fee as part of the proposed public-private partnership,” the letter reads.

Council Rejects Developer’s Request for Relief on Liquor License Fees

The Town Council rejected a request from the developers of Arsenal Yards to give discounted liquor licenses for establishments that have a liquor license, but will not open until the next year. The proposal called for reducing the annual fee for the liquor licenses from $8,100 to $2,700 for businesses that need to get a license but are not ready to open because their space is still under construction. The Council received the request at the same time that Boylston Properties sought to have the town add more liquor licenses to accommodate the new tenants at the former Arsenal Mall. The Council has requested 15 more special licenses from the Legislature. The rule would only apply to special liquor licenses approved by the State Legislature to encourage economic development in Watertown.

Crowded Field of Candidates for Town Council At-Large Seats

Watertown voters will have one big race to follow in this fall’s Town Election, Meanwhile, the other elected posts have uncontested races, but there will be some new faces. Seven candidates are running for the four Councilor at-large seats on the Town Council. There will not be need for a preliminary election in September. Three incumbents will be running in the Councilor at-large race: Tony Palomba, Caroline Bays and Anthony Donato. The fourth seat was vacated by Michael Dattoli when he moved out of town, and his term was filled by former-Councilor Susan Falkoff.

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.

Several Candidates Running for Town Council, Library Trustee Spots Not Yet Filled

The open At-Large seat on the Watertown Town Council has drawn significant interest from potential candidates, meanwhile, there are not enough candidates to fill the openings on the Board of Library Trustees. On Nov. 5, 2019, Watertown residents will vote for Town Council, School Committee and Library Trustees. Eight of nine Town Councilors have taken out papers to run for Town Council, and the last seat is currently filled by a temporary councilor. Former-Councilor Susan Falkoff agreed to fill the remainder of the term left vacant when Michael Dattoli left town, and she agreed not to run for reelection.

Council Raises Water, Sewer Rates & Asks Questions

Watertown’s water and sewer rates will be rising after the Town Council approved the new rates, but they also had questions about how the rates increased as the amount of water used dropped. The new rates will include a 2.5 percent increase for water rates and 4.9 percent for sewer rates, for a combined increase of 4 percent. The average customer would pay an extra $13.42 per quarter, or 15 cents a day. See more details about the rates by clicking here. The Council heard a presentation at the end of May about the proposed rates, and the rates that were adopted were identical to the recommendations from the town’s water and sewer consultant.

Zoning Board Member Announces Run for Town Council

The following announcement was provided by John Gannon’s Campaign:

Watertown Zoning Board member and former Watertown Town Attorney John Gannon announced his run for Town Councilor At Large. Running for one of four seats, he said, “I grew up in Watertown and have lived here all my life. My father worked nights at the post office and my mother was a homemaker. I understand how much importance our quality of life in Watertown plays in the lives of children and their families, from our public schools and libraries to our senior centers. As a homeowner and taxpayer, I know how important smart growth is to this town, and I couldn’t be more personally invested.

In Effort to Improve Communication with Residents Town Holding Listening Meetings

Watertown Town Hall

The Town Council wants to improve the way the town communicates to the public and a subcommittee in charge of the issue will begin a series of listening meetings with an informational meeting in June. The Council’s Committee on Media and Public Outreach will be hosting a series of “kitchen table conversations” around town, but first it is recruiting people to host these events, said Town Councilor Tony Palomba. “Being host is easy,” Palomba said. “You organize a meeting at your home or in a public location for 6-8 neighbors and friends at some point in July, August or early September to discuss a series of questions related to public engagement.” In particular, the effort is aimed at people who do not ordinarily participate in town government, Palomba said.