Council Subcommittee Will Examine Impact of Olympics on Watertown

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A committee will be created to look at potential impacts of the 2024 Summer Olympic Games on Watertown if Boston is awarded the event.

The ad hoc committee was first proposed by Councilor Tony Palomba in January and in February the Town Council voted to send the issue to the Human Services Committee to discuss creating the committee. Palomba is chair of that subcommittee.

It will be some time until it is known whether Boston gets the Olympics and Paralympics. The bid will be developed by the City of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts between September 2015 and January 2016, and Palomba wants to make sure Watertown is prepared.

“Cities and towns surrounding Boston, including Watertown, will be impacted by the Olympics and may be in the position to contribute to Boston 2024’s plans in terms of housing, transportation and recreational facilities,” Palomba said.

Councilor Angeline Kounelis said she doubts that the Olympics would have a direct impact on the town, though said it will likely be felt in town.

The Olympic venues will be in two major clusters, Kounelis said, the waterfront cluster (including South Boston and Dorchester) and the university cluster, which would be closer to town. Harvard, MIT and Boston University are among the colleges being considered for use. Also, the rail yards near the Mass. Turnpike could be used, she said.

People will likely use public transportation from Watertown to get to the Olympics – similar to other major events such as the Head of the Charles and the Tall Ships Parade, she said. Plus, some people may make come to Watertown to stay and eat, Kounelis said.

Including Watertown’s state representatives will be a key part of the town being heard, said Town Council President Mark Sideris.

“We need to make sure our state representatives (John Lawn and Jonathan Hecht) and state senator (Will Brownsberger) are involved,” Sideris said. “The City of Boston doesn’t have to open this up to us.”

The Council unanimously voted to send the issue to the Human Services Committee.

In Palomba’s proposal, the committee would have:

  • Three Town Councilors, two School Committee members
  • Two members of the town administration
  • A representative from the Watertown-Belmont Chamber of Commerce, a representative from Belmont-Watertown Local First, and
  • Eight residents “with experience, expertise or interest in planning and community development, municipal finance, public transit and transportation, athletics and recreation, or related areas.”

The committee would hold open, public meetings, according to the proposal.

The Human Services Committee will discuss the issue on Monday, March 2 at 7 p.m. in the Lower Hearing Room in Town Hall.

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