LETTER: Resident Supports Signage at Arsenal Yards, Praises Impact of Development

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Much has changed in Watertown over the past 10 years, that is for sure, and one area we should be proud of is the transformation of the East End and the revitalization of the Arsenal Street corridor – specifically turning the older and declining Arsenal Mall into a delightful destination for our community, and surrounding communities and neighbors.  

This development and the ripple effects of its success have afforded and will continue to afford our little City quite a bit. There are the surface benefits – dozens of new restaurants and shops, hundreds of thousands of square feet of outdoor space, adding to a renovated Arsenal Park, and
weekly community events that frequently benefit local charitable organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club and the Food Pantry. 

And there are the less obvious but glaringly important benefits – thousands of new local jobs, millions in real estate tax revenue which resulted in three new public schools that did not require a tax increase for residents, and not to mention the nearly 2,500 new life science employees and residents who will undoubtedly shop and eat in businesses ALL over Watertown, not just at Arsenal Yards.

Yes, we should be proud of this development. We should be proud of our City Government, which had the vision to include a development like Arsenal Yards in their last Comprehensive Plan from a decade ago. Further, as taxpayers and voters, we should encourage our City Government to support the economic success of the development, which is closely tied to the success of many aspects, including the revenue, of this City.

The signage proposed at the top of the 100 Forge life science building creates an iconic landmark that attracts customers to the Arsenal Street corridor. The signage is appropriate to the scale and illumination of the building itself and the project at large. The intention is to reach surrounding communities – Brighton, Newton, and of course, the Mass Pike. The architectural and development teams at Arsenal Yards have conducted extensive studies around visibility and its illumination impact on Greenough and the Charles River, finding little impact or extended visibility in relation to the activity from the rest of the property and comparable signs within 5 miles of the project.

Let’s support the efforts that drive economic success in our great City. If you agree, I urge you to write to your District City Councilor and the At-Large Councilors, at citycouncilors@watertown-ma.gov, to express your view and ask to hear back from them. This matter will come before the Council on Tuesday, Sept. 27.

Best regards,
Bennett Smith
Watertown Resident

10 thoughts on “LETTER: Resident Supports Signage at Arsenal Yards, Praises Impact of Development

  1. Of course, as with any improvement in any city anywhere in America, people will come to live there and nearby.

    This will push up property assessments, prices of homes, and rents.

    Don’t think there are not tradeoffs.

  2. I’m glad he wrote this letter because I never would have thought to write to ask the ask the city not rubber stamp this request. He’s request for support didn’t offer any details as to what company the signage is for (I’m assuming his) and any renderings of the signage. To say additional signage will be an “iconic landmark” is nothing short of farcical. We’re not exactly talking about the Citco sign here.

    Developers seemingly have had a free pass in Watertown. Massive projects with little consideration for the surrounding residents. The green spaces in town were once a reprieve from living in a urban area. More and more these large developments are peaking over and sometimes replacing the trees. Can we at least avoid turning the Watertown skyline into a billboard?

  3. I think that most Watertown residents would agree that often the benefits of development have come with significant downsides. And very often the greater benefits accrue to those who don’t live here.

    This issue is about degrading and commercializing Watertown’s most treasured natural asset.

    Don’t take the word of the developer’s architects and consultants. As with the many traffic studies that predict no significant impact on traffic, they are paid to tell you what the developer wants you to hear. Investigate the situation for yourself and make up your mind.

    It has been pointed out that the visibility of the sign will be different in the months when the trees are bare. That is an important point.

  4. Large illuminated NEON signs towering 100 feet above their 9 story biolab. Remember, they did not include this in their original plans to the city — always asking for more and more and more. And once they get approval, neon signs and billboards will dominate Watertown Square, Pleasant St and Arsenal St as well. Watertown will be the new Vegas of Biolab Cities.
    Please write your town councilor and the president of the town council to voice your strong disapproval. Thank you.

  5. Bennett, As to one benefit you mentioned “hundreds of thousands of square feet of outdoor space, adding to a renovated Arsenal Park”. Please indicate where Bolyston Properties has added thousands of feet of outdoor space. The only green space they added on their property is a strip of green, plastic carpeting near the entrance to the park. As far as I know, they have not paid one dime of their 500K mitigation fee to date towards Arsenal Park. That is held back until they secure an occupancy permit for 100 Forge. Yet events – yoga, exercise, etc. are being held in the Phase 1 area of the park. Is anyone paying rental fees? If so, to whom? Are those fees being used to maintain the park? So many questions. This park is under the care and custody of the Conservation Commission.

    • There has not been any “green space” added at Arsenal Yards. They have transposed paved surface lots into parking garages, buildings and reconstructed the existing buildings. All of which complied with the special permit they received and has been tastefully done. Between the buildings they may be open areas with trees, but hardly “added green space”.
      As a comparison, the developer of an old car dealerships and other properties on Water Street (Galen Street) is completing a large bio-med facility. Almost the entire area of the development was paved prior to the redevelopment. If completed as planned, the green space around the buildings on Water Street will be in the order of 40,000 sq. ft.
      Not quite an apples to oranges comparison because the developers had different zoning requirements. But as the City moves forward with continued development we need to be sure developments will be a lasting benefit to our City. The developers can always move on.

  6. Key to this supporter’s position is that it will have “little impact or extended visibility in relation to the activity from the rest of the property and comparable signs within 5 miles of the project”
    Adding more lighting because it’s not worse than what is already planned and what exists within 5 miles is not logical. More lighting is more lighting. This kind of lighting is intrusive, damaging and most of all wasteful.
    I urge residents to consider the real impact -what can be gained and what forever lost if this is approved.

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