In response to recent projects being approved and proposed in Watertown, former District A Councilor Angeline Kounelis sent out a letter she submitted to Planning Board and City Officials in December 2016 regarding the property at 485-615 Arsenal St. (Arsenal Yards) and the Master Plan Special Permit. She added that she voted against the 2015 Watertown Comprehensive Plan and the 2016 Regional Mixed Use District.
SHADOWS FROM THE PAST – 12/14/2016
For many years; many of us have been advocating for: “…balance…for viable development that will blend with less consequence on our community and its residents.” Although some of the then proposed site specifics for Arsenal Yards have changed; the location remains: “a city within a city with amenities galore for its prospective residents.”
The 2016 scenario now holds true for so many fragile nook and cranny neighborhoods in our community. You be the judges of the pro and con consequences, associated with the current, city-wide, development status.
Impacts from decisions of today, will be realized in Watertown’s future. It’s about sustainable quality of life…..
The following is the letter from Dec. 14, 2016:
Dear Chairman Hawes and Members of the Planning Board,
To put this quite simply, Watertown has not seen a development of this magnitude in recent history; a city within a city with amenities galore for its prospective residents. The urban sprawl associated with this development will change the character of the East End of Watertown and community-at-large for generations to come.
Due to a prior commitment, I will be unable to attend the Planning Board Hearing on 12/14/16, rescheduled from 11/29/16. For numerous months, many residents and I have been sharing our thoughts, comments and many concerns at neighborhood meetings and at the Special Planning Board Hearing on 10/20/16. The entire three hour presentation by the development team before the Board can be viewed at: http://wcatv.org/vod/planning-board-special-meeting-2/ (Note: the meeting link no longer works). My comments can be seen by advancing to the approximate 2 hours and 23 minute marker.
According the Transportation Impact Assessment document, page two, Executive Summary, http://www.watertown-ma.gov/documentcenter/view/20375 (Note: the meeting link no longer works), the project is expected to generate 6,366 additional vehicle trips on an average weekday and 10,648 additional vehicle trips on a Saturday (both are two-way, 24 hour volumes). The prospect of so many vehicles in one concentrated area is overwhelming.
Overall, the project is anticipated to include: five new buildings, one of which could be 12 stories high on the south side of the parcel; the renderings for Arsenal St. depict the new buildings as 6 stories high, with some set-backs; up to 500 apartments; an 8-screen movie theatre, a 16-lane bowling alley; a 25,000 sq. ft. supermarket; 221,500 sq. ft. of retail space; 48,000 sq. ft. of restaurant space and over 2000, garage and surface parking spaces, all within the confines of what has been known to us as the Arsenal Mall, aka Arsenal Project. The development project currently excludes the Home Depot and Harvard Vanguard buildings. The Staff Report http://www.watertown-ma.gov/documentcenter/view/21161 (Note: the meeting link no longer works), prepared in the Department of Community Development and Planning, offers more specifics.
Granted, the parcel will be developed. The massing and volume are extreme for a site situated in the south-east corner of 4.17 sq. mile Watertown that is accessed only from Arsenal St. It is the Planning Board’s responsibility to weigh the impacts and achieve the balance necessary for a viable development that will blend with less consequence on our community and its residents. Thank you.
All the best,
Angeline B. Kounelis
District A, East End, Town Councilor