Public Invited to Help Create Principles for Watertown’s Community Preservation Process

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The Community Preservation Committee is determined not to let the COVID-19 pandemic slow progress toward awarding the first set of projects, but before that can happen they have some work to do and are seeking the public’s help to do so.

The next step is a Webinar on Tuesday, June 30 from 6-7 p.m., which is being held in lieu of the second public forum. (See more information about the webinar and how to register below).

In January, the group had a public forum to hear what types of projects residents want to see the Community Preservation funds used on. They also did an online survey and held focus groups in March just before for the shutdown, and had planned a second public forum in April but that had to be cancelled, said Lanae Handy, the Community Preservation Coordinator.

The focus of the June 30 webinar will be the draft value statement and principles being considered by the Community Preservation Committee.

“Based on feedback from the first public forum and responses from survey, we came up with the statement and the guidance for each focus area,” Handy said.  

In preparation for the webinar, there is a video that Handy encouraged people to watch.

“We encourage people to watch the video, submit questions ahead of time, and we can read them on the air and answer them, or people can Zoom into the webinar and ask in them person,” Handy said. 

The CPC wants to hear from all groups in Watertown.

“We really want to hear from people from every part of town, every age group, if they have lived here a long time, or lived here a short time,” Handy said.  

January’s public forum drew a lot of people who have lived in town for a number of years and own their homes. The online surveys reached some younger residents and renters.

Once public input is gathered about the values statement and principles, the CPC plans to come up with a draft plan for how to apply for projects and what is eligible. The goal for coming out with the draft plan is in the second week of July, Handy said.

Ultimately, the goal is to hold a public hearing on the Community Preservation Plan in September. After that, the Town Council will have to approve the plan, and then the application process can begin.

Values Statement & Principles

From the first forum and the surveys the CPC found people had ideas for what they would like to see the CPC money used for. The money can be spent in three areas: open space/outdoor recreation, affordable housing and historic preservation.

The town has about $6 million in the fund, and will get about $2 million next year, Handy said. Most of the money comes from a 2 percent surcharge on local property tax bills, with the state providing matching funds for a certain portion.

With open space people are interested in connectivity to the Charles River and having trails and bike paths through town, Handy said. They also would like to see more open space for recreation.

In affordable housing, people’s priorities were allowing people to stay in Watertown, including providing affordable options for people who have a home and want to downsize after retirement but stay in Watertown, Handy said.

Reusing some of Watertown’s historic structures was one of the themes that the CPC heard from residents.

The Community Preservation Committee came up with the following Value Statement and Principles to be considered by the public:

CPA Values Statement

Watertown residents want to maintain and improve the assets of their town – its cultural and socio-economic diversity, its historical significance, and its green spaces and connection to the Charles River – while considering growth and development trends. The CPA provides a unique source of funding to preserve and create new open space and recreation opportunities, support and create affordable housing, and protect and enhance our historic structures, landscapes, documents, and artifacts. The CPC will prioritize projects that build upon Watertown’s values: a strong pride of place, the greatest good for the community, and the enhancement and care of our community assets – its people, history, and natural resources – for transformative change, for the health and welfare of all, and for the generations to come.

Guiding Principles

1. The CPC will prioritize projects that are consistent with the community’s needs and values:

  1. Are highly visible and accessible to all and generate broad benefits and opportunities in our community.
  2. Incorporate sustainable practices and design for the long-term maintenance and lifespan of the project funded.
  3. Receive endorsement from Watertown boards, commissions, departments, community groups, and a range of public support.
  4. Are generally supported by identified needs, goals, and priorities in local planning documents and further the goals in the Community Preservation Plan.

2. The CPC will prioritize projects that use CPA funding strategically:

  1. Leverage the value of CPA capital through additional public or private funds, in-kind contributions, labor, materials, or other cost-saving measures.
  2. Address long-standing or urgent needs, or exceptional time-sensitive opportunities in the community.
  3. Demonstrate feasibility regarding project management expertise, a reasonable and informed project budget, a realistic project timeline with milestones, and a long-term maintenance/operations plan and budget for the resource.
  4. Address two or more of the CPA focus areas (i.e., blended projects).
  5. Serve as catalysts for transformative change by preserving or acquiring assets to create new amenities and enhance the aesthetics, connectivity, and quality of life in the community.

Participating in the Webinar

The CPC sent out the following information about the June 30 webinar:

We miss getting together face-to-face, but right now the CPC really needs your input as we readjust and move forward.

Here are four easy steps to help us get back on track.

  1. Watch our video to learn what’s been done and next steps.
  2. Register on our website and review the goals for open space, outdoor recreation, community housing, and historic preservation.
  3. Share your comments, questions, and ideas for the four CPA funding areas.
  4. Join us for a Q&A Zoom webinar, on Tuesday, June 30th, 6:00-7:00 PM. Register at:

With your help, let’s strive to make our September deadline for the public hearing of Watertown’s Community Preservation Plan. Questions? Please contact Lanae Handy, Community Preservation Coordinator at

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