Watertown had its share of news this year, but here are the top stories of 2014.
1. Development – No matter what part of town you live in, a new project was built, approved or proposed. On the west side, Pleasant Street has been hot, and the Town Council and Planning Board have looked at ways to prevent more large residential complexes coming to that area. Arsenal Street looks to be the next big area of development, with plans to renovate Arsenal on the Charles, the approved hotel near the malls, and new projects closer to Watertown Square – including the approved 202-204 Arsenal Street and the proposed Greystar project. In East Watertown, the proposed CVS in Coolidge Square has met much opposition.
2. School Funding – One of the biggest debates during Watertown’s budget season was the amount of money the town would provide to the Watertown Public Schools. In June, the Town Council approved a $2.5 million increase, but that was well short of the $6 million requested by school officials. The school’s budget ran into problems during the year, with a budget freeze imposed, but at the end of the year the district ended with a $770,000 surplus. An independent audit of the school budget will be conducted as part of efforts to prevent another budget freeze.
3. Fallen Firefighter – Watertown lost one of its own when Boston Fire Lt. Ed Walsh was killed in a fire in Boston’s Back Bay in late March. Walsh grew up in town and graduated from Watertown High School. Residents turned out en masse to honor Eddy when his body was brought to the funeral home, and tens of thousands of firefighters from around the United States and overseas filled Watertown Square for Walsh’s funeral at St. Patrick’s Church in April.
4. Firefighters Contract – Firefighters made the news again at the end of 2014 when it appeared the Watertown Firefighters would get a new contract after more than 5 years without one. In December, the Town Council, however, voted the reject an arbitration panel’s decision to provide a new contract, saying they thought it was unfair to other unions because it provided increases during the economic downturn when other unions took no increase.
5. Field Hockey Dominance – In November, the Watertown High School field hockey team continued its amazing run, winning a sixth straight MIAA Div. 2 state championship and extended its unbeaten streak to 138 – the second longest in the nation’s history. The Raiders were particularly dominant in 2014, not allowing a single goal as they went 23-0. In 2015 the team looks to break the national record.