Council Round Up: Closing Little Greenough, Dispensary Moving, Public Arts Master Plan

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The Town Council supported having the state explore closing “Little Greenough Boulevard” on weekends to allow people to use it for recreation during the spring summer and fall.

The proposal began with a resident petition calling for closing the street between Arsenal and North Beacon streets. The idea came from people who enjoyed using the area along the Charles River when it was closed during the spring and summer of 2020 during the pandemic.

On Jan. 12, the Council voted to approve sending a letter to ask the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to do a pilot program, and to evaluate traffic data in the area to see if longer term or weekend closure of “Little Greenough” is feasible. Also, to have the DCR and work with the Watertown Department of Community and Planning and the Department of Public Works to do a pilot of closing the road on weekends during the spring, summer and fall of 2021.

The Arts in Watertown

The draft of the Watertown Public Arts Master Plan has been released, and will be discussed by the Town Council’s Committee on Economic Development and Planning on Thursday, Feb. 4 at 6 p.m. See how to tune in and participate by clicking here.

The plan was drafted by the Public Arts and Cultural Committee with help from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, said resident Janet Jameson. The group previously did other projects, including murals around town.

“We formed several years ago and from that we became involved in producing three murals that were designed by Gregg Bernstein and painted by the kids at the high school. We also produced the Watertown Public Arts and Cultural Kit,” Jameson said. “Now we are moving from an ad hoc committee to a more formal committee. The MAPC done a tremendous amount of outreach.”

The Public Arts Master Plan was created after the committee spoke to artists, did surveys and had public forums, Jameson said. The plan is meant to be a comprehensive vision for what public art can do in Watertown.

“It can add to the vibrancy of the community and we are very excited about this document,” Jameson said.

Marijuana Dispensary Move

The Council also voted to allow Town Manager Michael Driscoll to amend the community host agreement with Natural Selections, the marijuana dispensary on Elm Street. The dispensary is losing its lease at the end of 2021, and seeks to move to the former Monro Muffler site at 390 Arsenal St.

The proposal will still have to go before the Planning and Zoning Boards before being approved.

Reviewing the Comprehensive Plan

In 2015, the Town Council adopted the Town’s Comprehensive Plan. The Council voted to hire a consultant to review the plan to see if it needs to be updated, said Town Council President Mark Sideris.

“This is a very good move and it is time we took a look at it,” Sideris said. “With all the changes that has gone on here, what the Comprehensive Plan looks like, all the things that have been implemented and how many thing we do still need to implement.”

The report presented to the Economic Development and Planning Committee can be seen here, including information about the Comprehensive Plan.

Upcoming Meetings

The School Committee meets Monday, Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. The agenda includes an update on the school reopening process during the pandemic and a presentation about the Watertown Middle School curriculum. See the whole agenda and details for how to watch and participate by clicking here.

On Tuesday, Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. the Town Council will meet. They agenda includes a discussion of converting 50 units at the Joyce E. Munger Building at 100 Warren St. to Section 8 housing as well as the donation of sneakers to the town by Watertown native Robert Marra. See the whole agenda and info on how to watch and participate by clicking here.

The biotech development proposed for 66 Galen Street (including the former Colonial Buick GMC dealer) is expected to be taken up by the Zoning Board of Appeals on Wednesday, Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. The proposal includes a five-story biotech building, two parks, along with changes to the MBTA bus yard and repositioning of Water Street to be directly across from Aldrich Road. Read more about the project here, and see the agenda with link to the meeting, when it is available, here.

The Community Preservation Committee meets on Thursday, Jan. 28 at 6:30 p.m. Click here for more details.

Also Thursday, the Charles River Watershed Association will host a meeting about building resilience along the river. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. See more details by clicking here.

See all the Town boards and committees by clicking here.

3 thoughts on “Council Round Up: Closing Little Greenough, Dispensary Moving, Public Arts Master Plan

  1. So the loads of open space (parks, bike/walking/jogging paths, a walking track, basketball courts, playgrounds, etc., not to mention canoeing and kayaking in the Charles) presently in and around Watertown and along the entire length (both sides) of the Charles River (with picnic grounds) from the Museum of Science to points west of Watertown are not enough, and so Watertown needs to shut down a connecting street?

    Why?

    Are the present open spaces insufficient other than the desire of some people to copy the People’s Republic of Cambridge, which is really what’s going on here, let’s face it. Why not just attach Watertown to Cambridge?

  2. I hope the traffic studies are TRUTHFUL on the effects closing the street would have. When new big rental developments are proposed, the counts of traffic never seem to change or show that the traffic does increase, which we know is not true in many cases. People going east on Arsenal St. use this street to avoid the congestion at the next major intersection at Market St. On weekends when people have to run errands, I would think that street would be busier than during the week. I agree with Karen that we are often following what Cambridge does. I moved from Cambridge many years ago because of their policies and see them creeping into Watertown.

  3. Leave it to our esteemed town council members to even consider this nonsense. Closing off Little Greenough Blvd. (even if only for the weekends), is a waste of current infrastructure and resources.

    Denying access to motorists to an important and well utilized link between points north and south of here in order to accommodate the selfishness and desires of a small minority when there is already an existing network of cycling, jogging and pedestrian alternatives for them to enjoy is unreasonable. What more do they want?

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