LETTER: East End Councilor Calls Town’s Partnership with BB&N “Win-Win”

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Charlie Breitrose

A drawing of the proposed playing fields that BB&N School wants to build on Grove Street. The land currently belongs to Mount Auburn Cemetery.

A drawing of the proposed playing fields that BB&N School wants to build on Grove Street. The land currently belongs to Mount Auburn Cemetery.

Hello East Enders,

Interesting possibilities are on the horizon.………… The private, Buckingham, Browne and Nichols School (BB&N) has shown an interest in purchasing the Mount Auburn Cemetery property at 165-183 Grove St. in our East End of Watertown.

The first attachment is the 11/15/19 Boston Business Journal article regarding BB&N’s desire to enhance open-space and create a public/private partnership with the City known as the Town of Watertown, that will culminate as a major community amenity. The second attachment, and following link, are the informational materials that have been provided for the Town Council. https://www.watertown-ma.gov/DocumentCenter/View/28376/2019-11-12–BBN—Grove-Street

Aggregate Industries closed the concrete plant and sold the parcel in 2005. Some of you may recall the 2007-2008 contentious meetings with Hanover Co., regarding the then proposed development of the same site for 169 to 182 housing units. The plans were not favorably received by area residents and the Town Boards. The Cemetery purchased the property in 2009, with long-range plans to be determined. The unknown factor led to the interim parking lot lease with Mount Auburn Hospital; which has a ten year sunset clause due to expire in 2021.

Developers have been waiting in the wings for the opportunity to acquire this prime real estate; located in our very desirable East End neighborhood. Ultimately, the decision that will meet the criteria for the negotiated deal rests with the Cemetery’s Board of Trustees. The aggressive timeline is as follows:

  • 11/26/19 – Final bids due from interested parties
  • 12/04/19 – Finalists invited to meet with Cemetery Trustees
  • 12/12/19 – Meeting of Cemetery Trustees with anticipated conclusion of the selection process

In my opinion, the strategic partnership is an across-the-board, win-win. Let’s hope the Trustees of Mount Auburn Cemetery, understand and accept, the benefits that can be realized, and acknowledged, for generation to come.

It’s not only about the money; it’s about the environment and quality of life. 

Please join me in sharing your comments of support for the proposal as set forth by BB&N to: Attn: David Barnett, grovestreet@mountauburn.org or mail to: Mount Auburn Cemetery, Attn: David Barnett, 580 Mt. Auburn St., Cambridge, MA 02138.

Thank you.


Angeline B. Kounelis
District A, East End, Town Councilor
The City Known as the Town of Watertown

Additional Information:

To see the Recreation Department’s field use schedules go to http://recreation.watertown-ma.gov/DocumentCenter and click facility schedules, then the year.

7 thoughts on “LETTER: East End Councilor Calls Town’s Partnership with BB&N “Win-Win”

  1. Angie, this looks like a win-win but there are some questions: the schedule you point to by Park and Rec only has schedule for Fillepello from 3/29/2019 until August 2019 and not the key Fall season. From WHS website schedule it looks like the JV Boys Soccer teams sometimes uses this field(Filipello). Do we have plans, in any collaboration, for the current WHS use of Filippello? Where would the boys JV team practice and also has there been any discussion around what would occur during the time Hosmer field would be closed for construction? (as the WHS uses this field in fall and sprint after school).

    • This comment was moved from another story: I am very concerned that this deal would mean a loss of Filipello field time for our teams after school. I would also question the surfaces proposed by BB & N–will they want artificial turf? This will not be an environmental win or a wellness win for the players. I look forward to hearing detailed discussions of usage and surfaces.
      Barbara Ruskin

  2. While I’m in agreement that this proposal is preferable to having a development or biotech company at that location, I’m far from agreement that this is a “win, win” situation for the town. Lets just say it’s better than some other alternatives.

    I also have some reservations about the timing of this. With less than 2 weeks to the final bid deadline when the proposal first became known to the public, there was little (if any), time for residents to be involved and provide their input.

    Where and what exactly is the benefit to the town?
    If agreed upon, can either side bow out at any time for any reason down the road?
    Can the agreement be amended, changed or modified at anytime by either side?
    Are there any costs to the town that have yet to be determined?
    Will the BB&N site have lighting?
    Will Watertown teams have access and use of the fieldhouse?
    80 parking spaces leads me to believe that actual games will be held there
    and not just practices. Will the town have to provide any police details?

    One other final concern I have that is somewhat related… regardless of who wins the final bid, Mt. Auburn hospital is going to lose all those employee parking spaces (I think it’s highly unlikely that Mt. Auburn is willing to spend $23-$25 million for a parking lot).
    Where are all those employees going to park? On residential side streets and neighborhoods?

    • Good question.
      There is tall of use of the field at night so I asume it will have lights.

      If an event requires a police detail they pay for it.

      Not sure if the hospital has other plans for parking but it would be a long walk from the area. Currently there is a shuttle.

  3. Please explain how this is a win? The school teams complain they don’t have enough fields to play on to get the kids home on time. Coaches constantly demand that all practices and games be a Victory Field and therefore the “dead” argument for more artificial turf.

    Filippello is getting new lighting and field upgrades. Apparently BB&N thinks these fields are great for their students to play on as they have been renting them. So prime time after school hours will be used by BB&N during the school year and preseason? And Watertown taxpayers will essentially be paying for their upkeep? Where are the coaches o these issues?

    Meanwhile on weekends and during the summer Watertown will be allowed to use the BB&N fields? Will that be for free or do we pay rental fees?

    What happens to the historic Shick House? Is it going to be moved? Renovated with whose money for whose use?

    Many details are not on the table. We are giving up use of our limited “green space” for what?

    The town has been shortsighted in not investing in various sites for open green space and recreation. Is this a work around that looks attractive at face value but ultimately takes away control of a park in perpetuity? Too many unanswered questions unless you and others know something many of us do not. Funny how this deal came together so quickly with no input from the community and we just had an election.

  4. BB&N wants to buy a six acre property in Watertown and plans its use for athletic fields. If they do are they exempt from paying property taxes? They are asking Watertown to grant them afternoon prime time use of town owned property 9 months of the year for free in exchange for evening and summer weekend use of their fields? I am missing something here. Where is the benefit to Watertown? Is the only benefit to Watertown implied that BB&N may pass on bidding on the property if Watertown doesn’t give them use of town fields? What if they buy the property and put buildings and parking lots there in the future instead of the fields?

  5. Great questions MD. Why are we not getting any answers from our Town Council and Town Management? So much for transparency and representation.

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