LETTER: Watertown’s Charter Needs a Vision Statement for the Town

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The last Charter Review Committee (CRC) Meeting certainly had it all, but one thing noticeably lacking was a clear vision for Watertown. During the lively discussion, none of the Councilors were able to tell us what it is.  Instead, we were told about the countless hours Councilors spent writing hundreds of pages of plans. Then we heard the oft-used “if people want to know, they can find it on our website.” Anyone who has tried to use Waterown’s website knows that it merits its own letter.

Plans for every project or department, meticulous as they may be, do not constitute a vision. When I was starting a business, the first thing I did was create an elevator pitch that quickly explained what my business is, based on my vision. Examples include Microsoft’s founding vision of “A computer on every desk in every home,” or Disney’s vision “to entertain, inform and inspire people around the globe through the power of unparalleled storytelling, reflecting the iconic brands, creative minds and innovative technologies that make ours the world’s premier entertainment company.” Both tell you exactly what Microsoft and Disney are looking to accomplish, what they prioritize, and the future they envision.

Watertown needs a vision that states — clearly and succinctly — what we aspire our community to be. Our vision should be created with community input, and known to us all, residents and town employees alike. It should drive policy and operational decisions. It should not be riddled with examples, constrained by specifics, or take hours of reading to decipher.  Leave that for the strategic plans, core competencies, objectives, and metrics that will determine success.  

Below are three examples. Each provides a starting point for discussions about budgeting, policy, planning, projects, etc. As the CRC works towards creating a vision for Watertown and a preamble for the Charter, I encourage residents to participate in the process and voice their opinions regarding what Watertown’s vision should be and what we should be prioritizing.

Dan D’Amico

Framingham, MA

“A local government that represents all of us, that supports vibrant neighborhoods, provides quality schools, protects safe and secure homes, values our elders, celebrates diversity, supports local businesses, promotes community participation, and cares for those in need.” 

Frisco, TX

“A City of excellence that honors its heritage and is committed to the present, with a deliberate focus on the future — a unique community that concentrates on encouraging diversity, preserving the environment, and creating lasting value while maintaining friendliness, livability, and vibrancy.”

Philadephia, PA

“A 21st Century city that THRIVEs with new growth and opportunities, CONNECTs to the region and the world, and RENEWs its valued resources for future generations.”

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