The City Council voted to start the process to enable the City of Watertown to purchase a piece of land that lies just over the border in Waltham that could be part of an open space resource.
City Council President Mark Sideris said Tuesday night that Watertown is considering purchasing a property that includes a portion of Walker Pond (also called Walker’s Pond), a small body of water on the western edge of Watertown.
The pond is one of the few in Watertown, and has been discussed as a possible open space resource in the City. It sits in between recently built apartment complexes (Bell Watertown off Waltham Street and Repton Place and Watertown Mews off Pleasant Street), and is near Watertown Ford and the Jewish Community Day School and Watertown Ford Service Center (in Waltham). The land used to be part of a Raytheon and is privately owned.
While a city or town can buy property within its boundaries with no other permissions, there are limited times when land in another municipality can be acquired and the City will need permission from the State Legislature.
“In order to continue the discussion we would need to get permission from the State Legislature to allow us to purchase property in another municipality,” Sideris said.
City Attorney Mark Reich told the Council that there are few instances where such a purchase would be allowed, and typically it has to do with water protection.
If the special legislation is approved by the Legislature, Watertown would not be required to make the purchase, but would open the possibility, Reich said.
Councilor Lisa Feltner asked if Waltham officials have been contacted about the possible purchase. Sideris contacted State Rep. John Lawn, whose district includes parts of both communities, and Lawn reached out to Mayor Jeannette McCarthy.
“She is aware we are taking this action tonight,” Sideris said Tuesday.
Councilor John Gannon asked whether Waltham could oppose the sale of the property. Reich said that an objection from the City of Waltham could impact the Legislature’s decision on allowing the sale. However, Reich added, the land is landlocked and is part of Walker Pond, most of which lies in Watertown.
“For Waltham, it would seem to be of limited interest, but it would be beneficial to have the mayor’s express consideration on this matter,” Reich said.
The Council voted unanimously to approve the resolution to seek special legislation regarding the acquisition of property in Waltham. See the resolution by clicking here.