Grant for ‘Green’ Lights, Fire Negotiations Update & Heroin Crisis Discussion

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Watertown will replace several hundred street lights with energy efficient LED lights thanks to a grant awarded to the town by the state.

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito announced the awarding of a $207,505 Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources grant to Watertown as part of the Green Community Competitive Grant program, Town Manager Michael Driscoll told the Town Council Tuesday.

The money, along with $92,495 in incentives from Eversource, will pay for the $300,000 project to replace 800 high-pressure sodium and mercury vapor street lights with LED lights, Driscoll said.

The new lights will provide the equivalent amount of light while consuming 62 percent less energy,” Driscoll said. The town is expected to save $50,000 in energy costs annually.

The town had already replaced about 1,200 lights, and the grant allows the remaining lights to be replaced.

Fire Contract Negotiations

Efforts to gather the negotiating teams of from the Watertown Fire Union, Local 1347, and the Town, have been slowed by July vacations.

The groups last gathered on June 23, when the Firefighters presented a contract proposal with a “give back,” but the offer was rejected by the town, according to Fire Union President Rob Mannix.

The town’s attorney for the negotiations, Joseph Fair, contacted representatives from the fire union to set up the next meeting. He suggested three meeting dates during from July 13-17, however members of the Fire Union bargaining team were on vacation this week, according to correspondence from Town Manager Michael Driscoll to the Town Council.

Mannix said the groups are working on setting up another bargaining session.

Heroin and Opiates Crisis

The Human Services subcommittee reported back to the full Council Tuesday about the efforts to battle the heroin crisis in Watertown which has claimed the lives of several residents.

Committee Chairman Tony Palomba said the subcommittee had asked Health Department Director Deborah Rosati to coordinate a group to come up with an emergency action plan to battle the influx of heroin and prescription opioids. He said the planning was well under way.

The Council passed two motions related to the heroin crisis. First, they recommended that the Town Manager require Watertown Police officers be trained to use the anti-overdose drug Narcan and have them carry it while on patrol. Palomba noted that this must be negotiated as part of the Watertown Patrolman’s Union Contact.

Second, they voted to recommend that the Town Manager take steps to have a drug drop box installed at the Watertown Police Station.

Finally, Palomba said the discussion of the heroin crisis would continue at a Human Services subcommittee meeting on Monday, July 27 at 7 p.m. in Town Hall.

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