15 thoughts on “Town Charter Review, Noise Ordinance Discussions Delayed by Council

  1. The Town Charter Review that is required by law to take place every 10 years has been postponed. It must happen in 2020, and, with the pandemic, it will be a rush job to get it done by year-end. Plus, the committee was been chosen while ago, but it has not been made public.

    Why aren’t the names of the Charter Review Committee being released well ahead of the committee convening? Citizens should be made aware of who those citizens are, and those citizens should take the pulse of the community before beginning their review.

    I realize charter review is a long and painstaking process, but only 6 people plus the small council representing a town of 36,000 (or thereabouts) people isn’t enough to decide about making changes a great many desire to see so we can make our government more responsive to its citizens. This whole process lacks adequate representation and transparency. Input from the populace is missing. The names should be released asap…. especially since they were all chosen by only one individual from those expressing interest.

    Does anyone else feel as I do about this?

  2. I agree with Rena regarding Charter Review and Jack on dogs barking. I am sick of the citizens of Watertown being ignored.
    Charlie B. many issues in this Town are not transparent. Please explain what you are stating above, Charlie you are not clear on your statement. Can you give more of an explanation?

    • The Council President chooses the members and the members have not been chosen yet. He mentioned checking with people to see if they want to serve on the committee.

      As far as the 6 members, the Charter spells out the make up of the Review Committee, the Council and 6 community members.

  3. Will the Town Council bring in a consultant such as the Collins Center of UMass Boston to facilitate community education and open discussion regarding the Charter Review? Do you, citizens of Watertown have ideas as to what you’d like to see improved? The committee will consist of 9 Town Councilors plus 6 Appointed Residents. Will there be a deep discussion as to how our government is working or not working? How do we insure robust citizen participation under Covid conditions?

    Watertown has changed so much in the last 10 years. We need to step up to the challenges ahead with transparency and thoughtful ideas. We have been a city since 1980 yet we still call ourselves The City Known the Town of Watertown. Many do not understand our city form of government.

    Do you have concerns, questions, changes you’d like to see? The Charter Review is a major task folks. It occurs every 10 years. Get informed. Get involved. You can start by reading the Town Charter https://www.watertown-ma.gov/documentcenter/view/17443.

  4. This year, our city will have the opportunity to review how our government works or doesn’t work for us, and make constructive changes to our Town Charter, a chance that comes only once every 10 years. As a city in Massachusetts (we are legally “the city of the town of Watertown”—go figure), we have two basic choices of government: mayor/council or town manager/council. Within those two forms, however, there are many ways to set the governing details.

    Watertown has experienced rapid growth over the last 10 years, and there doesn’t seem to be a slowdown in sight. This growth has laid bare some serious problems in our governing model. While most of us understand and welcome smart growth, many long-time residents are frustrated with the lack of long-term planning, transparency and follow-through. There is a dearth of expertise; we need new people who bring relevant experience and creative solutions to today’s problems.

    These problems have existed for many years, but our government doesn’t seem to be able to really address them. Our Town Council representatives are virtually volunteer and overwhelmed. The Boards are beholden to the manager and Planning and operate on an entirely volunteer basis. All of them have other lives or jobs and a limited amount of time and energy to give. We need more dedicated professionals who can respond to the pressures this town is experiencing.

    We have created a master planning document, along with design guidelines, but these have turned out to be grossly inadequate in their application. Cookie-cutter architecture that is too big for the space or the adjacent neighborhood, built too close to the nearest established homes or roads, bio-labs, whatever the latest big money-making schemes are popular—Watertown is smack in developers’ sights.

    Our zoning needs serious updating, but it seems only developers are asking for changes that of course benefit their particular project, and those changes get approved quickly. But it takes over 3 years for the Town Council to update our noise ordinance, our lighting is 50 years behind and no councilor is taking the initiative, and we are losing many of our older, classic homes to cheap new construction.

    Some other concerned citizens and myself had an opportunity to meet and talk with a member of the Collins Institute from UMass/Boston last year. This group specializes in helping cities and towns around Massachusetts rethink their charters. The person we spoke with had an encyclopedic knowledge of local governments. By the end of our conversation, we felt without a doubt that Watertown should not proceed with the charter review without a group like this to help us understand our options. This idea was presented to the Council late last year, but not all the councilors recognize this help could be beneficial. While we greatly appreciate the time and service that our Town Councilors give, still none of our them have the expertise to lead the charter review in the exploratory direction it needs to go.

    There is extra money this year that will more than cover this expense. We can’t afford not to get help. Whether we want it to or not, Watertown will become a very different town in the next 10 years. Do we want some control over how this happens?

    If you think our government could do better, please write to your councilors, tell them your concerns and ask them to hire the outside, neutral help we need to conduct a thorough and constructive charter review.

    Marcia Ciro
    Sarah Ryan

  5. Marcia and Sarah Thank you for such a well written reply. I agree that Watertown has grown so much and so fast that as a city we need help in understanding all our options. I support hiring the Collins Center to help us as a City make the changes necessary to be a great place to live again.

  6. Excessive noise? I can’t hear a thing over the roar of jet engines taking off from Logan. The flights over Fresh Pond, the Oakley CC, Watertown Square are nearly constant on the worst days, sometimes as often as one every minute or so. It might be understandable if this were Southie or Hull, but we’re eight miles away. And it didn’t use to be this bad. The moment I hear barking dogs over the din of 747s at full throttle I’ll let you know.

  7. This is a city& you have to expect noise! For Watertown to keep growing, there will be alot of noise. I live on Pleasant St., where there is constant noise, although alot is getting done, thats’ how it is! Im’ used to it ! Residents should stop complaining, work has to get done!!! You can always move out to the country, where silence is golden! Barking dogs are a small part of the noise! Thats’ city life !!! Grin& bear it??

  8. It should not be that hard to come up with a reasonable noise ordinance. No thump thump of amplified bass line after 10pm. No beep of truck backing up before 7 am and no power tools/construction for one full weekend day. I would also recommend we limit leaf blowers to few “clean up” weekends as other towns have done. They are horribly noisy and spew exhaust.

  9. No complaints here, each city should have reasonable noise ordinance! Many cities have ordinances: Somerville, Newton, Cambridge… cities are places where people live and grow. There should always be a balance between quality of life and noise/noise pollution.
    I’m all for a good ordinance where I don’t have to yell over the sounds of someone playing very loud music or machinery at very early or late hours. This is not only a city but our home.

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