LETTER: Opposition to Plan to Put Temporary High School on Field Named for Marine Killed in Vietnam

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The following letter was submitted by Marilyn Petitto Devaney:

The School building Committee has been holding Zoom meetings. Unfortunately, like my neighbors I didn’t’ know. There are about twelve houses across the Street on Westminster Avenue from the PFC Moxley playground. No letter was ever sent to the abutters to notify them of any meetings or their decision.

They have made their decision without input. There are only about 12 abutters adjacent to the playground yet no notice was sent.

The pandemic has been life changing for many, out of work, others trying to work and deal with children’s school schedule — home schooling- family obligations and health issues as well. Majority of people are not into the many Zoom meeting that are held – many are not technical.

There was no communication to notify abutters that a most important life changing decision was taking place- Simply- because they did not receive a notice at their home!

Unknown to the PFC Richard Stephen Moxley Playground abutters, the School Building Committee chose this site to put a temporary high school with up to 33 two story modular structures with 100 parking spaces. It would completely destroy the playground — all green space — at a cost of up to $22 million to $24 million dollars. It could be the site for 5-8 years as there is no high school plan at this time.

First my major objection is – This playground is dedicated to PFC Richard Moxley USMC who was killed in Vietnam in 1968. This is the most egregious action of the School Building Committee. It is disrespectful to the memory of a fallen hero – “Richie” played on this playground when he was growing up.

My late husband and I were livelong friends of the Moxley family. We were with Richie at a party before he left for boot camp. Sadly there is no voice from the Moxley family to oppose this plan. Richie’s parents, brothers and sisters have all died. I am not opposed because Richie was a friend — I am opposed to destroying any park dedicated to a fallen hero.

I have talked to the head of the Massachusetts Veterans about this. This plan must not happen. Many will join me in opposition. This should not be allowed!

Watertown please join me and tell the School Building Committee — NOT ON THE PFC RICHARD STEPHEN MOXLEY PLAYGROUND.

This is the worst site they could ever choose. In this small area on the same side of Westminster Avenue. Starting to the left of PFC Richard Stephen Moxley Playground is a large gymnasium — Middle School — tot lot with slide, swings etc. tennis court — basketball court- Teachers and Visitors Park along Westminster Avenue, Parents drop
off children. I heard there is talk that after the modular buildings are built the tot lot cannot be used during school times.

There will be 1270 Middle School and High school students. If this site is used – there will be about 5000 drop offs of students twice a day.

This is the most used field – it is fully scheduled every day from March to November

Watertown High School Athletics – Youth Baseball -Youth softball–Watertown-Belmont Youth football-Recreation Flag Football – Watertown High School Physical Ed – Middle School Physical ed- Camp Pequosette- baseball games with Minuteman and more.

The biggest problem in Watertown is finding playing fields — Where can all the users of the field go? After the horse is out of the barn the abutters received a notice last week about an April 14th zoom meeting explaining the plan. There are so many existing problems with cars on Westminster – students dropped off, drivers trying to get to Main Street off Westminster Avenue. Bemis street adjacent to the middle school is closed from 7 am to 4 pm preventing drivers to exit onto Main Street.

As an abutter, I never complain when I can’t get out of my driveway due to a meeting or classes at the Middle School or a big game at the playground etc. I chose to live here- it comes with the territory.

This is wrong – mainly in the memory of a fallen hero- and secondly it is without question the worst site chosen.

I appreciate the School building members’ efforts but they must change their decision. There are other viable sites.

10 thoughts on “LETTER: Opposition to Plan to Put Temporary High School on Field Named for Marine Killed in Vietnam

  1. Totally agree with Marilyn on the extremely poor choice of Moxley Field for the “temporary” high school at this location. Can it be true that this option was the only one considered feasible by those who came up with the idea?

  2. Marilyn is spot on. Thank you. That field must forever be a place where children play and socialize and should not be cheapened by dropping ugly modular boxes on top of it.

  3. The field name honored Richard Moxley’s sacrifice of his life for his country, but the naming of the field was also a recognition of the service of his father M. John Moxley to sports and recreation in Watertown. Mr. Moxley organized the Shamrock AC that served hundreds of multi-ethnic local youths for decades. With the Munger family, the Moxleys managed the traditional morning Shamrock race from Waltham to Watertown. The Moxleys obviously believed in the ultimate service and sacrifice. However, they also were committed to the importance of sports, health, and recreation in town. Compromising the West End’s important asset undermines that legacy.

    • Paul
      Thank you for recognizing the dedication of Mr Moxley for the many years he established and was dedicated to the “shamrocks”.

      My husband Jack started the very first year of the Shamrocks when he was about 7 years old .

      My Moxley had a large family and worked for the Gas Company . There was no Boys Club or anything for boys in those days.

      Mr Moxley arranged and planned all the basketball and baseball games with other communities throughout the year.
      He would take as many in his car – the rest of the boys went on public buses!!

      My husband told me he would bring a white tea shirt to Mrs Moxley .She would dye it green – that was their uniforms.

      Mr Moxley established the shamrock race on patriots day the very first year for decades.
      The last few years of the races were run by son John and the Munger family .

      After years when the shamrock kids grew up
      and married etc – we had them at our house and planned a surprise testimonial dinner for Mr Moxley .
      It was before Richie went to boot camp- all the family was there
      The “Shamrocks “presented Mr.Moxley with a beautiful shamrock jacket and tickets to Ireland for he and Mrs Moxley.

      What a wonderful memory !

      The tot lot area of the PFC Richard Moxley playground is dedicated to Mr, Moxley.
      The generations of “Shamrocks “ will never forget this wonderful kind man.

  4. I agree as well that the temporary school should absolutely not be put on Mosley field. BUT am I the only one that has noticed the completely destroyed Captain Richard O’Connell park with the huge dirt and gravel piles, and construction vehicles parked on it???

    • Replying to Eric
      I have seen Captain Richard O’ Connell Park, Just one more ! A while back -I saw a worker spraying asbestos from the site .
      It was going everywhere without any covering!

      (True to this Watertown policy’s- no notice to abutters.)

      There were families with children close by in the park!

      Why doesn’t the administration oversee these projects?
      – In addition what disrespect is given to our fallen heroes?

      Memorial Day I was going around Watertown replacing the old small torn flags with new ones -on squares dedicated to our fallen heroes.

      When I went to The PfC Richard Moxley field there was a notice covering the entire name and sign bearing the name “Moxley Playground “. It gave notice that the park was closed due to covid .
      How disrespectful when they already had 3 notices on the fence .
      There was no wreath – as wreaths are placed at our parks named for fallen heroes.

      I had the notice removed and requested a wreath be placed there – no matter what time of the year .
      There has not been a wreath placed at the site!!
      Now they plan to destroy the field which honors our Fallen hero.
      Everyone who is familiar with this area knows it is the worst choice.
      Again -no mailed notice – even to the handful of Abutters .
      Response- the abutters and area should be in the zoom meetings !!!!

  5. 100% agree. Watertown administrators should find another location for the temporary school on this basis alone. This is an issue to any Veteran – not just the folks who happen to live or utilize the field. Tired of hearing from town administrators that we have to put up with this “for the good of the town” – well Mr. Moxley paid the ultimate sacrifice for this town and for this country – and his memorial should not be laid asunder for any reason.

  6. It’s not disrespectful to Mr. Moxley to temporarily use a field to advance the education of children in town. It’s an honorable use. We can debate the issue of whether there is a better temporary site and the adverse effect on abutters, but let’s not use the argument that by using the field for a TEMPORARY structure, we’re somehow disrespecting PFC Moxley or veterans in general. It’s a cheap shot.

  7. The Moxley site was a permanent HS site option being considered before being ruled out for inadequate acreage for the size of the proposed building designs at that time. That fact alone signifies that the field is deemed expendable to the town building committee for repurposing. To believe that the field will be returned to the neighborhood with complete certainty is foolish and naive. This town has a failed record for making wise decisions with the small amount of land it has had to manage over the years. Too much has been sold off in the past and it has now come home to roost. It is past poor land management that has resulted in the present situations.

  8. It is incredible that John La says that it’s a “cheap shot “ for those who oppose the PFC Richard Stephen Moxley playground to be the temporary high school .

    People rightfully oppose this memorial playground dedicated to a fallen hero who gave his life in Vietnam – to be bulldozed.

    It is egregious to turn this playground into a PARKING LOT for 119 parking spaces with 34 two story buildings !
    The committee never mentioned the hundreds of users who will be displaced with no other playing field available.
    They never researched the middle school “drop off students “ and the traffic problem existing .

    You know John what is a a” Cheap shot!”!

    – Mr sideris and his committee never mailed to ONE resident – not to one immediate abutter.!!

    They eliminated any option and decided on this memorial playground without input (next to the Middle School ) and most used field in Watertown,

    Sadly -No open government in Watertown !

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