The Department of Public Works building and Hosmer Elementary School will have new installations that drain rainwater into the ground, rather than the town’s storm drains, and will serve as demonstration projects for what can be done around town.
The search started with 22 potential sites for the demonstration projects, but that was cut down to 18 viable sites on property owned or controlled by the town. The Watertown Stormwater Advisory Committee met in September to pick two locations for the project.
The group wanted to spots that would drain a significant area, be visible to the public and be located in different parts of town.
The last criterium was the one that led to the Hosmer School location being chosen. The top two choices were in the parking lot of the DPW facility, and a spot at the bottom of the hill beneath Lowell Elementary School. Those two locations are right across Orchard Street from each other, however.
The DPW location, which would replace two or three parking spots with a small rain garden, is not right on the street like the Lowell School location, but it would be seen by people going to the DPW. This would include some key people who might install such stormwater features – developers.
“At first, with the DPW I thought, who would see it, but if developers see it, that’s big. That’s important,” said Stormwater Advisory Committee member Janet Buck.
The group then looked for other locations in an area away from the DPW and chose Hosmer School instead. The spot at the school was not originally the top one on that campus.
Assistant Town Manager Steve Magoon said the first location in the circle in the driveway in front of the school, where a rain garden could be placed, had some drawbacks.
“With Hosmer, our concern being an area of high foot traffic that it would be walked on and not last six months,” Magoon said.
Instead, the group chose a location in back of the school on the edge of the parking lot near the playground.
Hosmer was chosen over other locations, including Common Street and Beacon Park, just off Arsenal Street.
Town Engineer Matt Shuman said Common Street is about to undergo reconstruction, and the grassy area at the intersection with Spring Street would be altered, so he recommended against this location.
Beacon Park is a good location, the group decided, and it might be able to be done by the developer of the apartment building going up across Arsenal Street as part of the project mitigation.
Consultants Horsley Witten will design the projects to the 30 percent design. Then the projects will be ready to be funded and built.