City Hall has been the center of municipal government in Watertown for nearly a century, and it will continue to be filled with local government offices but some will be moving across the Charles River to the recently reacquired Parker Annex Building.
Last week, City Manager George Proakis presented his plan to rearrange City departments.
The first department to move across the river is Public buildings, Proakis said, and within the next two months he hopes the Information Technology (IT) Department will join them. First IT will be in a temporary location on the second floor before moving to a permanent spot on the third floor.
In the spring or summer of 2024 the Health Department will move from City Hall to the third floor at Parker.
The final move to the Parker, in fall 2024/winter 2025, the City’s Department of Community Development and Planning will move to the second floor of the Parker Building. That includes planning, zoning, and code enforcement, Proakis said.
“All of them will be together, coordinated in one space and our goal here is a single entry door and a single counter,” he said. “So, basically if you have a zoning question, a code enforcement issue, you want to talk to planners, whatever, you come off that ground floor entrance and have a single counter where all those questions can be addressed and all the staff in the offices set behind there.”
At City Hall, the plan calls for creating a finance floor on the first floor of City Hall. The Treasurer/Collector office and the Assessor’s office will remain where they are, and in the spring or summer of 2024 the Auditing Department will move to the current Health Department location. Finally, in the fall of 2024 or winter 2025, the Procurement Office will move to the current Personnel Department spot.
On the second floor of City Hall, the Deputy City Manager’s office will move across the hall from the City Manager’s Office. Deputy Manager Emily Monea will share the former Auditor’s office with the Communications Team and the Municipal Policy Analyst. Both moves are planned for the spring/summer 2024.
Having the Deputy Manager in City Hall (along with the Manager) and the Assistant City Manager, Steve Magoon, with the Department of Community Development and Planning in the Parker Building, Proakis said there will be senior leadership in both locations.
In fall 2024/winter 2025, the Human Resources Department (formerly Personnel) will move to the space now occupied by the IT Department and Building Inspection offices. The new 311 constituent services department will move to the space now occupied by Zoning and Code Enforcement and the Public Nurse.
The Recreation Department will move from the ground floor (basement) to the third floor into the former Department of Community Development and Planning space. Another former DCDP space will become flex office space, which could be used by employees from departments at Parker who come over for meetings at City Hall. Those moves will take place in fall 2024/winter 2025.
On the ground floor, the City Clerk’s office will stay where it is, and expand into some of the former Recreation Department offices. The rest of the Rec space will be used by the City’s Credit Union. The Veterans Services Office will stay where it is, and the Retirement Office will move to the former Procurement space. Watertown-Space-Study_Department-Relocations-v6
Further down the road, Proakis said, another City-owned complex will be renovated. The block bounded by Common Street, Spring Street and Marshall Street is home to the Senior Center and the Phillips Building, which is home to the Watertown Public Schools administration.
Some discussions took place about rebuilding the Senior Center, and how to use the Phillips Building and the parking lot for the two facilities. However, they were put on the back burner when the new Watertown High School did not include that property. Proakis said the future of that site will be determined down the road.
“That’s not a next year step for us. We have to get through all these other pieces — we’ve got to get through the high school construction project — but if we are looking at FY27, 28, 29,” Proakis said. “We are looking at what might make sense as a capital project to work on. This is one of the things we can look at beyond that step if we want to keep discussing it. There has been discussion in the community in the past and we don’t want people to think we have forgotten about it. It is important to look at it as the next thing we are going to test feasibility.”