At a time when our town is being given over to development, it should have become very clear to you by now that citizens want you to maintain some of Watertown’s distinctive buildings and lifestyle. It has come to my attention that the town is considering selling off more of our property. I am writing to urge you: Do not sell the old police station or the branch libraries, or any other properties belonging to the people of Watertown. These properties were meant to be used for our benefit. I am hoping you will begin thinking outside the box about new uses for these buildings.
Some ideas: The police station would be an ideal location for the School Administrative offices to free up space in the Phillips School for our students. The branch libraries would be excellent activities centers for the neighborhoods they serve. There could be a Watertown history museum in one of the buildings. With all this development coming to town, why would you consider selling these buildings that have so many memories for so many people who lived and grew up here? If anything we should keep them to retain some sense of neighborhood and history in our city.
I served on the Library Reuse Committee, and all but one of us on the committee fought hard to keep the libraries from being sold. We found a leasee for the East Branch, but nothing ever came of it once it went to the Town Manager. I am certain money could be raised (or maybe even donated by one of our many developers) to help get those buildings up and running again. We need room for community activities, and these buildings are much beloved and are part of Watertown’s history; so let’s reintegrate them into our lives. They could become maker’s spaces, or pre-schools…there are many ideas that could be entertained.
I believe the land of the North Branch Library was a gift to the town from the Ralph Lowell family (or someone of similar stature I can’t remember the name, but it’s on record at the library). It was donated to become a school, and was later repurposed as a library; it can be repurposed once again for another community use. The Coolidge School is leased and won’t come back to the town for many, many years. The Lincoln School was a treasure that was sold off and is now making lots of money for its current owners. It could have been retained and managed by the town, and were it still ours we would have that land for a new school. It was, and is, shortsighted to sell off town property. We have so little space left for public use as it is.
Again, I urge that you don’t sell off any more public buildings or land. The fact that these buildings have been left to fall into disrepair does not reflect well on the town. They belong to the citizens, and should have been kept up and/or leased out. These buildings should remain in the public domain for public use. Furthermore, I feel that citizens deserve to have a say about how these buildings should be used in the future.
Please defend our right to retain and enjoy the use of our community properties.