Council Roundup: Councilor Opposes Planning Board Appointee, Tower at Mall, Trees & Green Schools

The Town Council approved a new member of the Planning Board at Tuesday’s Council meeting, but the candidate did not receive unanimous support. 

Jason Cohen, who has been an alternate member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, was appointed to the Planning Board to replace John Hawes, who recently stepped down after more than two decades on the board. Cohen, is an architect, has served on the ZBA since 2015, has lived in town since 2001 and has two children attending Hosmer Elementary School. Professionally, he works primarily on large multi-unit housing projects, but during his interview with the Economic Development & Planning subcommittee he said he is interested in larger urban planning issues that come before the Planning Board, including approving projects on Arsenal Street and Pleasant Street. Town Councilor Angeline Kounelis said she could not support Cohen because she believed he did not consider all input from residents when considering a case. She pointed to the proposal for the medical marijuana facility at 23 Elm St., and the ZBA meeting in May 2017.

Plans to Remove Trees in Watertown Square to be Discussed at Meeting

Some trees that line the Linear Path – the pedestrian way near Town Hall – are planned to be removed. Watertown officials will hold a meeting to discuss the planned tree cutting. The trees sit on the right-of-way for pipe carrying the City of Cambridge’s water supply. The trees proposed to be removed are near Waverley Avenue as well as near Summer Street, according to an announcement about the meeting. An earlier removal of trees in Watertown proved to be controversial, and the removals were halted temporarily.

Teen Tree Stewards Care for Town’s Trees, Learn About More Than Just Nature

Half a dozen young nature enthusiasts have taken to the streets of Watertown this summer with a mission of caring for the town’s street trees and spreading the word about the importance of urban trees. 

The six teens are part in the Watertown Teen Tree Stewardship Program, which is sponsored by Trees for Watertown, a citizens group committed to protecting and promoting trees in town. Each day, the group has an activity. Sometimes it is looking around town for street trees that are in need of help, other times it is learning about trees and nature, and sometimes they are promoting their program, said David Meshoulam, founder and coordinator of the program. As Meshoulam drives the group around town, the former Newton North High School science teacher points out a “beautiful beech” or a tree that has not been properly planted. The teens have been keeping track of trees around town.

Hearing to be Held About Two Trees Proposed to be Cut Down

Watertown Tree Warden Chris Hayward will hold a hearing to discuss two trees that are proposed to be taken down. The Tree Hearing will be held on Thursday July 13, 2017, at 11:30 a.m. in Town Hall in the 3rd Floor Meeting Room. Location
DBH
Type of Tree

137 School Street
8”
Kwanzan cherry

1 Howe St (on Boylston St)
17”
Norway maple

Please note that you do not need to attend the Tree Hearing to be heard, Hayward said in the announcement. If you cannot attend but are for or against the removal of any of the trees listed and want your thoughts to become public record, please email the Tree Warden at chayward@watertown-ma.gov. Your concerns will be read into the public record at the hearing. Your email must be received by me by 10:30am on July 13, 2017.

Hearing on Trees Set to be Removed Scheduled for June 15

Watertown Tree Warden Chris Hayward announced a meeting to discuss trees that are scheduled to be removed in Watertown. 
The meeting was originally scheduled to be held on Tuesday, June 13. The hearing has been rescheduled to Thursday, June 15, 2017 at 11:30 a.m. It will be held in the 3rd Floor Meeting Room in the Administration Building located at 147 Main St. Please see the attached agenda for more information. TREE Hearing List

Location

DBH

Type of Tree

Common/Spring St. Delta

8”

Chinese elm

291 Arsenal St

6”

Honeylocust

291 Arsenal St

6”

Honeylocust

330 Arsenal St

10”

Bradford pear

330 Arsenal St

11”

Bradford pear

330 Arsenal St

9”

Bradford pear

45 Robbins Road (on Orchard St)

32”

Norway maple

4 Orchard St

23”

Norway maple

58 Robbins Rd (on Orchard St)

22”

Norway maple

Hayward said that people do not need to attend the Tree Hearing to be heard.

Removal of Trees in Watertown by Cambridge Has Been Halted

The removal of trees in Watertown by the City of Cambridge has been stopped, and more assessment will be done before any others are removed. Cutting of trees along the Linear Path behind Town Hall and between Whites and Waverley avenues has drawn strong condemnation from many Watertown residents. The trees sit on top of land owned by the City of Cambridge, and which is above a pipe that supplies water to Cambridge. Town Council President Mark Sideris announced the halt of tree removals at Tuesday’s Town Council meeting. “Believe me, the Town, Town Administration and Town Council are very disappointed with the (City of Cambridge’s) actions and the method of communication with the Town,” Sideris said.

LETTER: Resident Disappointed by How Decision to Remove Trees Was Made

Dear Mr. Driscoll,

As a resident of Watertown, I am writing to voice my strong displeasure, disappointment, and shock by the recent news that the City of Cambridge has decided to remove several decades-old trees along Linear Park in Watertown, as recently reported in the Watertown Tab {and Watertown News}. These trees, as you no doubt know, provide immense economic, social, and emotional benefits to the residents of our town as well as valuable green space for wildlife. I am not only saddened by the loss of these trees, but am deeply concerned about the way the decision-making process to remove these trees has unfolded over the past several years as Cambridge approached Watertown to inform us of their intent. Local stakeholders were not adequately informed and a clear and community-engaged process was not laid out. My understanding is that the 100 year old water pipe is dug quite deep and is not in danger of tree root infiltration.

Q&A: Town Councilor Talks About Removal of Trees in Town by Cambridge

Residents have reacted strongly to the news that 25 trees behind Town Hall and along the Community Path will be removed. Confusing the matter more is the fact that the trees sit on land that is owned by the City of Cambridge, despite being within the limits of Watertown and in some cases what appears to be people’s back yards. According to a letter sent by Cambridge’s Water Department to a Watertown resident questioning the removal of the trees, the depth of the pipe below the surface is three feet but can be as little as one foot. In their surveying of the pipe, Cambridge officials found a piece of pipe blocked by roots near Arsenal Street. Town Council Vice President Vincent Piccirilli, who represents District C – where the trees are located – responded to questions from Watertown News about the tree removal.