Residents Air Concerns with Coolidge Square CVS to Planning Board

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The Planning Board heard from plenty of concerned residents about plans to transform the corner of Mt. Auburn and Arlington streets into a CVS/Pharmacy.

The proposed store and parking lot would replace the gas station at the corner, the Elk’s Club and a small office building in Coolidge Square.

The project would include a 13,000 square foot store – slightly larger than the one in Watertown Square – and would have an entrance on the corner and another in the back parking lot. It would add landscaping along Arlington Street and in the parking lot. Forty unmetered parking spaces would be added next to the store. The store hours would be 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.


Residents said an already problematic traffic situation in the area would get even worse with the addition of the store. Other residents worried about the impact on nearby homes and businesses.

Town Councilor Angeline Kounelis told the Planning Board her main concern.

“Traffic traffic traffic,” Kounelis said. “It’s a major issue and I don’t know whree it is going to go.”

Her top concern is the new driveway on Arlington Street, about 160 feet from the corner. Cars will be able to take a left from Arlington Street into the lot, which concerned Kounelis.

Resident Joe Levendusky said the CVS would be much larger than other stores in Coolidge Square.

“It would be more twice size of any retail in area,” Levendusky said. “It is unprecedented in the strip, it will compete with some of the convenience stores in the area, and the biggest danger is setting precedent for the area. Developers will be putting together properties and bring developments of this scale to Coolidge Square.”


Others worried about deliveries to the CVS. Developers said the two deliveries from the warehouse will take place between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m., and other deliveries would be made during business hours on weekdays.

Residents living on Wells Avenue, which looks over the back parking lot and the deliver area, are worried about noise, light and other nuisances from the CVS, said David Peckar, who spoke for he and his fellow residents.

Kounelis said the nighttime delivery times are not acceptable.

“8 a.m. to 8 p.m. are you kidding? This is a residential area,” she said. “Trucks will come into Coolidge Squares with their beepers going, and boom boom as pallets unloaded. That will be two days (a week) when people do not get there entitled amount of sleep.”

Mt. Auburn Grill owner Malcom Atamian shares the parking lot in back of the CVS, and said he worries about delivery trucks blocking his parking.

“These trucks will be going through our parking lot. I am also losing three parking spaces,” Atamian said. “I think deliveries should be made no later than 11 a.m.”

Good Fit?

Coolidge Square resident Janet Jameson said she did not think that the big chain store fits into the character of the area of East Watertown.

Spring Street resident Barbara Ruskin said she would prefer to see a different design that includes more than just the CVS.

“Some designs have small stores in front with CVS wrapping around behind it,” Ruskin said.

The Planning Board had some concerns, too. Several members mentioned they like the long set of windows on the Mt. Auburn side of the store. However, they said they did not want the windows blocked by signs and posters in the windows advertising specials.

Planning Board Chairman John Hawes said he has some concerns.

“I don’t think I have heard enough positive things to take a vote,” Hawes said. “I am not convicned about the parking and the traffic. We can allow everyone to reflect and allow the developers to put their best foot forward.”

The Planning Board voted to continue the hearing until the December meeting.

William York, the attorney representing the developers, said he looks forward to coming back before the board.

“Traffic in urban areas is an issue in almost every meeting we attend,” York said. “We we look forward to working through the issues you present and hopefully making an this a good quality project.”

One thought on “Residents Air Concerns with Coolidge Square CVS to Planning Board

  1. I’d love to see that development become a continuation of Coolidge Square style retail instead of a big box. Citizens have been speaking out against big box stores and apartment complexes since the Strategic Plan, and so far no one seems to be listening. How about putting in a building that houses various businesses instead of one big “everything” store. I use an independent pharmacy outside Watertown that delivers. I shop at independent gift, clothing, and bookstores elsewhere because Watertown has little or nothing to offer outside big box national chains selling mass produced goods. Chain stores drain money out of our local economy, and are taking away the unique character of our town. The jobs they bring don’t pay well, and people working there will not be able to afford to live in the housing that is being built here. The gridlocked traffic will drivers to will ruin our air quality. I feel it is very short- sighted to develop the town in this way. We need to look at what the cost will be to the town and the taxpayer in the long run when we have to deal with increased traffic, crime, and impervious surface.

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