To the Editor:
I write in response to Councilor Piccirilli’s recent statements in which he warns that the moratorium on development in the Arsenal Corridor could impact town and school budgets. Indeed the Councillor is one of many who plan on funding new priorities with revenues generated by new development. On its face, this appears to be a good strategy, but it is not a justification to rush ahead and make bad concessions that will affect generations to come. The town has already suffered a good deal of bad real estate development.
I support the moratorium, but only with reservations. However, I have come to the conclusion that our elected and appointed officials have become terribly out of sync with the views of their constituents on issues of development. The moratorium represents the best opportunity to bring everyone back together and to work toward moving forward as one.
For their part, Town Officials must create a clear, systematized and well understood process for citizens to give ample input on developments and development issues. Elected officials, appointed boards and town staff must hold developers accountable for responding to citizen concerns–that is their job. The town should hire a temporary, part-time community liaison to bring citizens and town government together and keep them communicating effectively until this exchange becomes routine. Next a master plan for the Arsenal District must be hashed out and made the guiding document for development in that part of town.
Citizens, for their part, must find ways to organize in a fashion that will provide relatively clear and germane input. They must organize into groups that will develop as much consensus as possible and they must appoint leaders to present their views to town leaders and developers in an organized fashion. Not everyone is going to be pleased at every outcome, but I am certain that we can drastically raise the quality of development projects in Watertown and the level of citizen satisfaction with same.
The folks who have proposed the moratorium are intelligent, thoughtful folks who want the best for Watertown. They are not afraid of change. Watertown is experiencing growing pains. These issues must be worked out in the best way possible, not the most expedient. If there is a lag in increase of revenues, then alternative funding scenarios must be found. We are in the midst of an historic remaking of our town. We have a generational responsibility to get this right.
13 Templeton Parkway