Watertown’s Capital Budget Includes School Projects, Park Improvements & Mt. Auburn St. Funds

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Watertown Town Hall

Watertown Town Hall

Town Council approved $22.2 million in projects and equipment purchases as part of the Fiscal Year 2022 capital spending plan, including funds for the elementary and high school building projects, improvements to Town parks and the Mt. Auburn Street reconstruction.

The plan has 33 items on it. The Town Council’s budget policy is to spend between 7.5 and 8 percent of the total Town budget on capital spending. Council Vice President Vincent Piccirilli, who is chair of the Budget & Fiscal Oversight Committee, said the figure would represent 14.02 percent of the projected Town expenditures, or 7.11 percent without the $10.9 million earmarked for the school building projects.

School Projects

The school projects includes $208,474 for the plan and designs for the elementary school projects, which includes $152,000 for the high school feasibility study, plus $5.5 million on debt and interest on the elementary school projects and $5 million on “authorized, unissued and planned debt” on the elementary schools.

Town Manager Michael Driscoll said the estimated costs for the high school building project uses a conservative estimate for the reimbursement from the Massachusetts School Building Authority. Driscoll said he used a 25 percent reimbursement rate, rather than the 40 to 50 percent that has been estimated as the reimbursement rate that the district may qualify for from the MSBA.

Other school projects and repairs to the current schools account for $3.53 million in costs. The projects include several at the middle school — phone system upgrades, remodeling eight bathrooms, air conditioning on the first and second floors and a new fire protection system — as well as money for furniture, fixtures and equipment for Watertown High School’s new medical assisting program.

Park Projects

The park projects in the FY22 budget include:

  • $900,000 for Moxley Park courts renovations & lighting
  • $950,000 for improvements to the Casey Park baseball area
  • $3,000,000 to proceed with the Victory Field Phase 2 (track and courts area) renovations
  • $2,700,000 for renovations of Arsenal Park Phase B
  • $400,000 for Filippello spray park renovations
  • $300,000 for the Skating Rink to repair the handicap ramp

The Moxley Field project may be delayed, Piccirilli said, because the Watertown Schools may use the field as the site for a temporary spot for Watertown High School while the new school is being constructed. Both the Moxley Park and Casey Park projects will require the Recreation Department to host a community meeting about the project and make a presentation to the Town Council before receiving approval.

The Arsenal Park project will be done if the Town can offset some of the cost using developer mitigation dollars and proposed I-Cubed funds. Piccirilli added that the price of the project may increase due to “unforeseen subsurface soil conditions.”

Mt. Auburn Street

Another item on the Town’s portion of the cost of the Mt. Auburn Street renovation project. Councilor Tony Palomba said he thought the project was being paid for using state and federal funds. Public Works Superintendent Greg St. Louis said that certain items are not covered by state and federal grants, including streetscape and landscaping work, as well as repairs to private property that are disturbed as part of the construction.

The plan also calls for $3 million in road work projects for connector roads and longer streets.

Other items on the FY22 Capital Plan include:

  • $155,000 for Fire Station improvements
  • $125,600 for painting the exterior of the Police Station
  • $325,000 for the Community Path Design from Saltonstall Park to Taylor Street
  • $3,000,000 for the Community Path Construction from Linear Park to Taylor Street
  • $385,000 for work at the Administration Building (Town Hall): asphalt roof shingle replacement, painting, and carpet
  • $215,000 for Administration Building Improvements: fire alarm system replacement at $85,000, air conditioning and plumbing upgrades at $130,000

The Fiscal Year 2022-26 Capital Improvement plan also includes several equipment purchases by the DPW, and other facilities upgrades. See the Budget & Fiscal Oversight Committee report, including the recommendations for Fiscal Year 2022 by clicking here.

One thought on “Watertown’s Capital Budget Includes School Projects, Park Improvements & Mt. Auburn St. Funds

  1. What are they trying to pull on us with the Mt. Auburn St. project? The project is still at the 25% design plan and the final design still has to be voted on by the Town Council. Approving the funding this early into it makes it sound like the council members have already made up their mind to approve the final project before any more public hearings are held. I’ve attended every meeting since the beginning and residents, taxpayers were assured that the state and federal government would provide funding for all expenses.

    https://mountauburnstreet.com/news/2021/3/16/mount-auburn-street-project-update

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