LETTER: Neighbors Have Requests for Proposed Athenahealth Project

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Re: AthenaHealth LLC and Arsenal on the Charles

We appreciate the Town Council’s delay on the vote for AthenaHealth’s proposal for changes to the AODD. We are assuming they have realized, like we have, that we need more details from them in order to make an informed decision. Any changes to the AODD should be considered with the future in mind: how will these changes affect Watertown’s ability to control what happens on that property while AthenaHealth owns it, as well as after they have gone. We hope AthenaHealth stays for the long term and works with the town in good faith, but businesses come and go, so we shouldn’t give away our rights to some determination on that property.

To this end, we are asking the Town Council and relevant town departments to do the following:

1. Require that Arsenal Athena LLC provide a Master Plan (which shall include detailed design plans) for the AODD prior to any proposed zoning text amendments to the AODD.

Developers, who have the money and time, should be made to do their homework, so the citizens of Watertown, without the same money and time, do not. Elected officials are charged with protecting the financial viability of the town, but they are also charged with protecting its quality of life.

2. Require the town to do a comprehensive traffic study and plan (which shall include traffic flow impacts to abutting areas) prior to approval of any proposed zoning text amendments to existing parking in the AODD.

Representatives from AthenaHealth have stated to us that traffic studies are not their responsibility; they are Watertown’s problem. All developers along Arsenal St, including AthenaHealth should be required to contribute to a town-driven comprehensive transportation plan that will take into consideration ALL the new construction planned along this road.

3. Maintain the existing 50’ height limit in the AODD.

We feel the request to build a massive, 79 or 90 foot garage is not a good solution to their parking problems. Insist that they show us some alternatives that keep the existing height limit of 50 feet.

4. Maintain consistent setbacks for any new construction in the west end parking lot of the AODD to match the existing setbacks for Building 311 on Arsenal St. and Building 39 on North Beacon St.

While they have specifically asked to build out to the setback of Building 311 on Arsenal St, they have been very vague on the setback from North Beacon St. The numbers we have heard have been fluid to say the least and give the impression that they want to completely fill that space. This would create a massive building, out of scale to anything on the property or in the immediate vicinity. This building would dwarf even Building 311, which is quite a feat! Demand they build to the setbacks of the adjacent existing buildings and leave some of the surface parking in that lot.

5. Hold at least three two-hour Public Forums in a public building where each resident can speak for no less than five minutes to all Watertown Town Councilors as well as two representatives from Athena Arsenal LLC and at least one executive representative from AthenaHealth.

We would like to see this process be as transparent as possible. Concerned citizens have the right to know what’s being done behind the scenes so we are not blindsided at the few opportunities we have to comment. At these meetings, we would also like to hear from the people really making the decisions at AthenaHealth, not just from their spin doctors.

Marcia Ciro, 13 Bay Street
Anjalee C. Davis and MJ Gubbels, 390 Charles River Rd., #1
Sarah and John Ryan, 43 Paul St.
David Martin, 229 N. Beacon St.
Kathy Santoian, 277 N. Beacon St.
Leslie Evans, 15 Bay St.
Christine Melkissetian, 12 Palmer St.
Wil van Dinter, 29 Palmer St.

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