Watertown’s City Council Has Some Big Issues Waiting as New Term Begins

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City Council President Mark Sideris outlined the accomplishments of the past two terms and issues facing the City Council in the new term at the 2024 Inauguration. (Photo by Charlie Breitrose)

The New Year also ushered in a new term for Watertown’s elected boards, and the City has some issues on its plate to tackle soon, including a show shoveling ordinance, short-term rentals, and reusing some former city buildings.

City Council President Mark Sideris addressed the crowd Tuesday night at the Commander’s Mansion after members of the City Council, School Committee, and Board of Library Trustees took the oath of office.

Watertown’s elected officials waited to be sworn in at the 2024 Inauguration at the Commander’s Mansion. (Photo by Charlie Breitrose)

When the Council meets on Jan. 9, they will already have a major issue to consider, one of many Sideris said.

“We will be taking up a (residential) snow shoveling ordinance next week as this has been an ongoing discussion for a long time,” Sideris said. “We will be shortly having a public hearing on establishing rules for short-term rentals.”

The City Council take the oath of office at the 2024 Inauguration. (Photo by Charlie Breitrose)

Other major issues that the City Council and the City Administration will tackle include a plan for Watertown Square, rearranging departments in City Hall and moving some to the Parker Annex, implementing parts of the Climate and Energy Plan, and planning the open space and recreation opportunities at Walker Pond.

Special attention will be paid to some upcoming projects.

“We will be working to address the challenges that will come up for the residents and businesses as we get deep into the Mt. Auburn Street reconstruction,” Sideris said.

Rabbi Dovid Zaltzman of Chabad Watertown (right) gave the invocation prayer before the swearing-in ceremony. (Photo by Charlie Breitrose)

At some point, the Council will also be restarting discussions about the noise ordinance. Sideris said the updating of the ordinance has been “stalled for a number of reasons,” and he plans to re-refer the ordinance to a Council Committee.

The City will also be figuring out what to do with the old Watertown Police Station on Whooley Way (behind the Fire Headquarters), as well as the former North Branch Library on Orchard Street.

Sideris noted that when elected officials were sworn in two years ago, a public ceremony was not held, so this was his first inaugural address for four years.

Interim City Clerk Noelle Gilligan, right, gives the oath to the School Committee members, from left, Rachel Kay, Kendra Foley, and Lisa Capoccia. (Photo by Charlie Breitrose)

Among the accomplishments over that time were reviewing and passing Charter Changes, including changing the name to the City of Watertown and creating a Human Rights Commission. The Council also hired a new City Manager, George Proakis, and opened two brand new elementary schools (Cunniff and Hosmer) and renovated and expanded a third (Lowell), plus approved and started work on a new zero net energy, LEED Platinum Watertown High School.

He also recounted several other accomplishments over the past four years.

“We passed a Climate and Energy plan, a Comprehensive Plan, we were the fist community to opt in to the new specialized stretch code, we strengthened the requirements on new large developments, we funded projects that were recommended by the Community Preservation Committee, we purchased the Waker Pond site for open space and recreation , we purchased the former Parker school, we recently spent a lot of time discussing and granting over $10 million in ARPA funding to various groups and organizations,” Sideris said.

Watertown Library Trustees, from left, Maja Young Sarah Murphy-Holroyd, and Theodore Kokoros are sworn in by interim City Clerk Noelle Gilligan. (Photo by Charlie Breitrose)

The elected officials sworn by interim City Clerk Noelle Gilligan were:

City Council President and School Committee member: Mark Sideris

City Councilors: Tony Palomba, Caroline Bays, John Gannon, and John Airaisan, Councilors Nicole Gardner, Lisa Feltner, Vincent Piccirilli, and Emily Izzo

School Committee members: Kendra Foley, Lisa Capoccia, and Rachel Kay

Library Trustees: Teddy Kokoros, Maja Young, and Sarah Murphy-Holroyd.

Friends, family and supporters crowded into the Commander’s Mansion for the 2024 Inauguration. (Photo by Charlie Breitrose)

The invocation was given by Rabbi Dovid Zalzman of Chabad Watertown. The National Anthem was sung by Brad Peloquin, the Pledge of Allegiance was led by Watertown Girl Scout Junior Troop 70133, and the Watertown Police and Fire Honor Guards presented the colors. The Master of Ceremonies was Doug Orifice, co-president of the Watertown Business Coalition.

2 thoughts on “Watertown’s City Council Has Some Big Issues Waiting as New Term Begins

  1. I have no idea in what condition the North Branch Library is, but if it’s in decent condition, perhaps it can be used as an outpost to the high school mods. It’s not exactly next door, but it’s not that far, either. The downstairs basketball court/”caf” at the middle school is not conducive to studying (lighting, noise, etc.), and the “library” in the mods is small and frequently unavailable to those who have virtual learning classes and/or a Study block.

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