The owners of Arsenal Yards, Boylston Properties, have pulled a request for permission to put an illuminated sign on the top of the tower at the East Watertown complex.
Bill McQuillan, principal of Boylston Properties, sent a letter to City Council President Mark Sideris and Assistant Town Manager Steve Magoon informing them of the request. The Zoning Amendment for the sign on top of the 130-foot building known as 100 Forge was scheduled to be discussed at the Sept. 27 City Council Meeting, after having been approved by the Planning Board in July.
In the letter, McQuillan wrote, in part:
“We understand that many folks believe that it is inappropriate, and while we may disagree, we have long listened to the responsible voices in Watertown, which collectively have made our several projects in town better.”
The requested zoning change was opposed by many residents for multiple reasons, including that it would shine light over the Charles River, and that it did not fit with the character of Watertown.
The letter continues:
“We regret our own mistakes in not providing more and better information earlier on in the process has contributed greatly to the issues that have bothered our Watertown friends.”
Boylston Properties also reserves the right to revisit the sign at a future time, but not this calendar year, the letter said.
Reminder that comments must be signed with a full name.
This is fabulous news!!! . . . . for now, at least.
As he has done at every other step in the development of Arsenal Yards, Bill McQuillan is now pushing this proposal ahead into the future: “reserves the right to revisit the sign at a future time”. This is not over, but for right now, this is excellent news! If I remember correctly, in planning meeting a while ago, Mr. McQuillan was pushing to add an access road to Arsenal Yards from Little Greenough Boulevard, one of our beautiful riverfront parkways. When this idea met with vehement opposition, Mr. McQuillan said that Boston Properties might consider this idea again and if I’m remembering correctly, he said ” . . when cooler heads prevail”. Great news today, but I remain concerned that Boston Properties will continue to whittle away at our City’s resolve over a period of years and will not stop pushing until they get everything they want.
Dear Mr McQuillan,
Thank you for listening to the people of Watertown.
Thank you for reconsidering and ultimately pulling your request.
This is great news!
I appreciate that Boylston recognizes their mistake in not providing full information earlier and for stepping up and saying so.
However Boylston reserves the right to revisit the issue just not this calendar year
We’ll have to stay involved as
1-there are only 15 weeks left in this calendar year
2-this won’t be the only request like this as the world goes crazy over lighting
Bravo to everyone in our community who wrote so eloquently here on Watertown News, elsewhere on public media, and in emails to our city councilors asking them to reject this amendment. Thanks to the hard work of the visionary Dan Driscoll of DCR and many other dedicated people over the years, Watertown’s Charles River landscape has become a regional natural treasure. It has ever-increasing ecological importance. It is so worth protecting, for our sake and for the sake of resident and migratory wildlife.
You go, Watertown! Next, Boylston Properties will be asking for us to change the name of our town.
This is terrific news and at the same time, this episode exemplifies a serious problem that hasn’t gone away.
Congratulations to all of us who took the time to write to our City Councilors and Watertown News and saved Greenough Boulevard. Thanks to Dave Martin for sharing the photos that prove how visible the proposed sign would have been from Greenough; to those Councilors who got the message out that they would vote against the sign amendment; and to Charlie Breitrose for running this medium for public participation. As to a word of appreciation for Boylston Properties for finally reading the room and retracting the proposal (for the moment), it must be noted that had the amendment been defeated at Council, it couldn’t be reconsidered for two years.
Regardless of how this amendment may be revised in the future, of how much the language is tightened up, how much the smell of spot zoning is laundered, or what criteria are added to guide the discretion of the Planning Board (the Planning Board that unanimously recommended approval of this amendment), there should never be a sign facing Greenough Boulevard.
The ongoing, chronic problem this episode highlights is the philosophy and method of operation of our planning department. How could our city planners have been so out of touch with public opinion and our best interests as to have recommended this sign amendment? How could they have so blatantly ignored the policies and recommendations of the City’s Comprehensive Plan and Open Space Plan? Why should we bother with a new Comprehensive Plan when the planning department so flagrantly ignores the plan we already have? Why should the city spend millions to acquire additional public green space (which deserves our support) if this is the way the department treats the unique green space we already have? How could the department have been so willing to sacrifice the precious resource of our riverfront for the benefit of one property, however large? It is now George Proakis’ department and up to him to set it on a better course.
He’ll be back
The owners of Arsenal Yards didn’t need a sign to tell them it was a bad idea. The writing was on the wall!!!
It’s really nice to have a win once in a while. Thanks to all who helped make this decision happen.