LETTER: Part 1: 2024 New Year’s Resolutions for the City of Watertown

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And How the Heck Did We Lose Our Post Office??

By Linda Scott
Watertown Resident

Dear City Officials,

I’ve taken this opportunity to write this resolution list as a service to you, with explanations for each resolution. It’s based upon my observations and the hundreds of conversations that I’ve had with residents over the past two years. I hope that you won’t find this extremely annoying, but what can I say? I hope that you’ll also find it helpful and motivating for this new year.


I think that the sudden disappearance of the Post Office (after 80 years on Main Street, it is due to close its doors on January 26) is indicative of a much larger problem that continues to plague the City of Watertown. This is the City’s prioritization of the needs of mega developers and big businesses over the concerns of Watertown residents, small businesses and nonprofits. The lack of government transparency and accountability loom large in all of this.

One Watertown City Councilor in his annual meeting this year said it bluntly, when development concerns were raised by residents, “People don’t like change. When it’s done, they’ll just get used to it.”

Here are just some of the changes that Watertown residents have been “getting used to” in recent years. I’ve taken the liberty to write corresponding City government resolutions to go with them:

City Resolution 1: Excellent public services, with clear goals and transparent procedures makes as a more desirable and respected community. Regain community trust by improving public services.

We’ve seen substandard street repair and lack of City department oversight by the DPW and DCDP (Department of Community Development and Planning). I appreciate the one and only effort that I know of for the City Manager and staff to observe first hand what taxpayers have been getting for their tax dollars … substandard and dangerous streets.

I left the Highland Avenue street walk with the City Manager early, after two and a half hours and only half done, with residents still pouring out of their homes to express their concerns, showing damage to their properties and pointing out unsafe conditions for their children and families.

Kudos to Highland Avenue residents for organizing and standing up for their neighborhood. And kudos to George Proakis (our new-ish City Manager) for taking this journey with residents, walking boot and all. But, candidly, George, that effort will all be for naught if things aren’t actually done to fix these problems and prevent other neighborhoods from experiencing this all too frequent poorly managed and destructive chaos.

City Resolution 2: Take immediate steps to protect our kids.

Included on the Highland Avenue tour was a school crosswalk which within the past month has gotten school crossing signs, eight years after a little boy was hit by a car in that same dangerous school crosswalk. Don’t get me wrong. I really appreciate the signs, but common sense says that if children are being put in danger because of a public street condition, you fix the problem now … not put it in a “someday plan.” In the list of things that should rise quickly to the top in our City, child safety is one of those things.

City Resolution 3: Recognize the value of resident points of view.

Really listen, learn, and respond accordingly! Biolab buildings are being pushed through the system by Steve Magoon’s Watertown Department of Community Development and Planning and the Watertown Planning Board, ignoring the pleas of citizens for a closer look. These buildings (they number about 25 now, and that number is growing) have overrun the City, and in this economy are in danger of becoming obsolete before they are even built. We’re seeing the beginnings of labs being used for other purposes, even as more are built … more on that at another time.

City Resolution 4: Treat public safety as a non-negotiable.

Years of bio labs with with no (not one) biolab inspection or a qualified group assigned and hired to do them. We’ve had one serious chemical spill and one illegal lab (that we know of), and the DCDP and the Watertown Planning Board, in their infinite wisdom, allowed an old building to be retrofitted for biolab use with one elevator … one elevator for the public and bio waste and bio products all to share. I thank Councilors Gannon and Feltner for promising to look into the possibility of real biolab inspections to keep our citizens safe. And as always, I thank the Watertown BioSafety Committee for their efforts to develop questions and procedures that can be used by biolab inspectors to evaluate the safety of the 70 plus biolab companies that currently operate in Watertown.

City Resolution 5: Organize thoughtful, strategic approaches, not against but in coordination and cooperation with the community.

Rats, rats, rats everywhere! The former Health Department Director attributed this to Watertown residents growing vegetable gardens and leaving their trash bin lids open. Large scale development tearing up large areas all over the City was mentioned as an afterthought.

Taxpayers have been left to pay out of their own pockets for significant damage to their properties caused by rats, totaling in the thousands of dollars, only to have to make those expenditures again and again, because the City did nothing.

See the September 14th Committee on Human Services meeting (http://vodwcatv.org/ CablecastPublicSite/show/2742?site=3) to see what the DPW’s plan is for rodent abatement. In short, they require monthly reports from contractors, which they claim they don’t have the manpower to read.

Councilor Palomba’s comment, ”Not trying to be to critical, but you’re requiring monthly reports from contractors, who are relying on a pest control company, but you don’t have time to review them?”

By the way, untreated rat burrows have been identified on City properties as well. Are they growing vegetable gardens there too? Note: the new Interim Health Director, Abbey Myers, has done something excellent and virtually unheard of up until now in Watertown. She’s designed an actual comprehensive rat plan and is working with City departments, the public and Watertown businesses to follow through with it!

City Resolution 6: Get back to the basics. Give meaningful support to our small businesses.

With all of this large development and the high costs that come with it, the relentless and steady loss of small businesses that sustained this community and gave it a unique identity for years is a continuing concern to residents. How many residents are finding the increasing need to leave the City just to buy a pair of shoes, a gift, etc.? Now they’ll have another reason to leave … the lack of a post office. In the words of that Councilor, maybe they’ll just get used to it.

City Resolution 7: Respect Watertown as the valuable community that it is, full of hard-working, intelligent and diverse people.

Don’t sell us short! And change the DCDP’s “mission” as a taxpayer funded welcome wagon/ free concierge service for multi-million dollar companies who’ve proven that they are very adept at taking care of themselves at our City’s expense without any help from them.

Question: Through seemingly predetermined City decisions, disregarding citizen petitions with over 600 voter signatures from all over the City expressing citizens’ concerns, (or as Steve Magoon describes these efforts “just six people complaining”), are we becoming an anonymous city of biolabs and apartment buildings whose residents’ main retail resource is Amazon? (The focus is on constructing one or two bedroom apartments, by the way, since family-friendly three bedroom units are not as lucrative for the “big businesses” that are building them, and our City appears to be just fine with that). As a matter of fact, when a resident brought up a change that he thought would improve a large development plan, a DCDP staff member responded, “But the developer won’t make enough money that way.”

Watertown government has expressed a “commitment to business” but that commitment seems to be exclusively directed at BIG businesses. Witness dthe closing and relocating of Post Office boxes to accommodate a large developer’s plans without any thought for the people of Watertown who’ll be most affected … the small Watertown businesses and nonprofits that count on these boxes for their livelihood.

Please do not get this twisted. The Post Office has been put in this position by O’Connor Capital and the City of Watertown in its effort to support this large New York developer’s monetary interests. The Main Street Post Office has been in the same Watertown Main Street location since 1943 and did not want to leave.

City Resolution 8: Don’t blow smoke at Watertown residents!

As for the Post Office returning, that appears to be just a pipe dream aimed at controlling residents’ frustration and anger, deflecting from the question. So is the fact that there’s no indication anywhere that the Post Office is leaving (a form of crowd control, I believe.) What kind of city government supports the removal of a valuable government service in favor of a private developer?

Here are some glimpses into the mixed signals from O’Connor Capital, the multimillion dollar New York developer and our City who have quite literally forced the shutdown of Watertown’s Post Office:

First, let’s visit the October 16 Watertown Affordable Housing Trust meeting to see what Brett Buehrer (O’Connor VP) is up to there. It starts with Brett saying “We’re making progress with the Post Office …. We need to move them along.” He then asks for assistance from the Watertown Affordable Housing Trust to make this happen. Larry Field, City of Watertown DCDP senior planner, and some members of the Trust get fully on board with Brett’s request for help. Here’s a link to my Watertown News article delving into this “inside job” in more detail. (https://www.watertownmanews.com/2023/11/14/letter-watertown-affordable-housing-an-inside-story-part-one/)

At one point in this meeting, we hear Larry Field saying in response to Brett Buehrer’s request for help in moving the Post Office out, “Well, I think the purpose of the letter, as I understand it, is to facilitate the process. The Post Office has to make its decision, and it is in the best interest of the City and the project for them to make its decision on a timely basis….” According to the Senior Planner of the Watertown Department of Community Development and Planning, it’s in the best interest of the City for the Post Office to leave?

Now let’s skip ahead just nine days later to the October 25 Watertown Zoning Board of Appeals meeting, where Brett is discussing their dealings with the Post Office: http://vodwcatv.org/CablecastPublicSite/show/2837?site=3

This conversation starts at 38:44. Notice how at about minute 41:24 and again at 42:41 Brett slips in a reference to raising the Post Office’s rent to “Market Rate” rents and how the Post Office and the Federal government aren’t interested in paying the exorbitant rent (aka Market rate) that O’Connor is demanding.

It’s all very subtle. The Post Office has a lease that allows them to “hold over” for many years after their lease expired in August 2023, but they have to pay the rent demanded by the developer to do so. Here’s the corporate thinking: The Post Office doesn’t want to leave, and we want them to go (despite the effect on Watertown), so we’ll raise their rent so impossibly high that they’ll go. I guess hardball works even with the Feds.

By the way, if the Federal Government finds this rental rate onerous, how is any local Watertown business ever going to afford it?? And under these conditions, why would the Post Office return to that location?

For additional information, please see former City Councillor Angie Kounelis’ Watertown News Letter to the Editor: https://www.watertownmanews.com/2024/01/02/letter-finding-a-temporary-permanent-home-for-watertown-main-street-post-office-should-be-a-priority/

Angie, I believe that you and other residents that are demanding more of their City are making an impact. I’ve been told that people from the city government are now showing up at the Post Office for the first time, trying to ascertain a way to appease Watertown residents …. People, keep up the pressure!

It’s how the sausage is made here, people. In a city that claims to want to draw more people into the Square and reduce car usage, in deference to a large developer, they’re eliminating one of the main local draws to the Square, its Post Office, and sending Watertown residents elsewhere in their cars … how ironic!

Monday: My City of Watertown New Years predictions. What can we expect in the year ahead if our City doesn’t step up and support its residents? And finally, City Resolution Nine: Be Truthful, Transparent and Accountable

23 thoughts on “LETTER: Part 1: 2024 New Year’s Resolutions for the City of Watertown

  1. I definitely agree with some of the resolutions listed.

    But some of the perspectives expressed in this letter relating to development and to the petition are the same perspectives that the faction supporting Clyde Younger was pushing during the last election. Clyde Younger lost in a landslide, receiving less than 25% of the vote. So the council should definitely listen to residents, but should not listen to the perspectives of a minority of residents over and above the majority.

    • It is drippingly disingenuous for this author to claim surprise that the Main St. Post Office will be closing. As she knows, the PO closure was decided a few months ago at the same moment that the 104 Main. St project was approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals, because the land/building in which the PO sits will be incorporated into new housing.

      And the City Council has NOT prioritized the needs of developers and big businesses over residents. The problem is that the loud 25% is advocating for policies from the Leave it to Beaver era, on the mistaken assumption that Watertown is a “small town.” This belies the fact that Watertown has always been a mix of industrial and residential areas…. since 1630!

      And oh for Gods sake, quit with the complaints about the biotech labs. They have not “overrun the city” (sigh) – to the contrary, they are located in areas zoned for commercial/industrial use. And they won’t “become obsolete before construction,” that is an ignorant statement by someone who has zero understanding of the biotech industry and the up-and-down cycles through which it moves. If some space remains empty in 2024, it will be filled soon as Watertown is a MUCH more desirable location than other MA cities. They are a benefit to our city and we are lucky to have them!

      • Kathi, once again, please stop misrepresenting the views of your neighbors. We know by now how you feel and we know that you tend to stereotype those who disagree.

        Insulting folks by comparing them to the Cleaver family adds nothing valuable to the civic discourse. Believe me, there are more than 25% of your neighbors who have valid concerns about development. Don’t belittle them. Even among those who have concerns there are many shades of opinion.

        Don’t oversimplify Watertown history. Until a little more than a century ago we were solidly agrarian. There was an element of shipping and industry along the river when it was tidal, up until the early 20th century when the heavy industry expanded. Those industries left behind a horrifying legacy of toxic waste which is keenly remembered today.

        With the expansion of industry and the electrification of the major trolley lines in 1912, Watertown began the shift from agriculture to becoming a classic street car suburb with an industrial sector.

        This too is a bit simplistic, but my point is that Watertown has a unique history and has many unique attributes which distinguish it from our neighbors. One of them is the role that immigrants have played in town. Watertown has been a comfortable home for many waves of immigrants from many groups. It has also been a comfortable home for the working class.

        Many who have concerns about change simply want to preserve some of the things that make us unique. They want to preserve the neighborhood character of the our town. They are concerned with the quality of built environment. They don’t want to become another municipality that has built poorly and gentrified many productive and decent citizens right of town.

        Please try to have a more nuance view of your fellow townsfolk.

    • Mr. Lashof-Sullivan, Your comment betrays that you have the mistaken impression that “a minority of residents” are anti-development or nimbyists. Perhaps you are unaware that this “faction” that you denigrate initiated a petition campaign to change the FAR in the Central Business District and to make changes to rules governing areas with bordering uses. The “faction”submitted for the two petitions approximately 500 signatures. The signatories were not coerced into signing or did not understand the issue. The FAR petition furnished explanatory visuals. Many signatories eagerly signed, declaring, as one longtime resident told me, “I don’t like what they’re doing at City Hall.”

      The petitions got the attention of our elected officials, who, at a council hearing on which they took no action on the FAR petition and defeated the other petition, claimed one after the other, that they underestimated the degree of discontent in the city. The FAR petition served as the impetus for the council to vote to appropriate $250,000 for a Watertown Square Revitalization Study and additional funds to overhaul the zoning code. Residents naively thought that the study area was Watertown Square only to attend the charrette process to learn that the O’Connor Capital Partners development parcel (104 Main St.) had been excised from the study area and was being considered by the hired consultants, the city manager, and the city’s planning development staff as built. This after the Zoning Board had given O’Connor conditional approval in October, even though many concerned residents urged board members not to advance the project because it was in the study area, and residents participating in the charrettes expected to weigh in with their views.

      Residents attending the three-day charrettes were dumbfounded to find a large parcel on Mt. Auburn St. was curiously not in the study area, either. Oops, when attendees took notice, a planning and development staff person excused the revelation as a “printing error.” The prospective developer of the site was on hand to gauge reaction to his intention to. build a large-scale rental project on the site.

      Suspicion and distrust of the goings-on at City Hall are pervasive and will not abate until office holders, taxpayer-paid bureaucrats, and appointed permission granting authorities understand that their purpose is to make informed fair and impartial decisions, not to rig the system to engineer outcomes.

    • This comment was submitted by Clyde Younger:


      Dear Editor:

      This is in response to the comment re. the results of my candidacy in the November, 2023 Election.

      Yes, I was trounced at the Polls; however, it was not because of the principles espoused. I was simply a lousy candidate. I have not been around Town attending Council Meetings, different or varied events conducted by the Schools, even athletics. My activities of late have been very circumscribed.

      Seniors and Public-School Parents are more likely to vote than any other group. Given the success and direction of the School Building Program started by Mike Driscoll, most parents are satisfied because it offered opportunities for their children beyond previously expected as well as the education services opened to them.

      Serving as Council President and School Committee gave Mark a greater microphone especially since he was in the center of this activity and success. Not being an attorney, but we can stipulate the city is doing a very good job in this area.

      I came in late as a candidate and because of my ego thought I could at least make it a competitive race. As you can see for the outcome, I was dead wrong. Anyone who runs for office has to have an ego. Some are fragile and some strong. I realized I did not have an organization, nor the inclination to go door to door to let people know what I stand for. You know the old shoe leather approach.

      I knew Watertown has dramatically changed over the years and branding or meeting the candidate is important.

      Changing the subject, my background is in Public Health; however, I have also had considerable business experience in the private sector. In business one must be aware that wholesale costs are not static and can escalate. One way of keeping up with costs and your business viable is through growth; the other raising prices (taxes). The City is committed to “Growth” in order to pay for the new School Building Programs as well as the New Positions in the City.

      This allows you to minimize the pain felt.

      I realize I am a critic of the current expansion of the City’s Management approach to expansion. I do not see a coherent developmental plan. Shouldn’t we start at ground zero by looking at our community examining what our Unmet Needs are and plan growth in this manner instead of a Developer coming to the City and state they propose to do X.

      We speak of density without determining what level of density is desirable for the City a size of four-square miles and where such development should take place.

      Our Councilors and Administrators and certain residents indicate the City must be in compliance with the State’s mandate for housing within 0.5 miles of major transit systems.

      It is important that the law does not state when construction should commence. The New law does not require affordable housing. My understanding, affordable Housing is an interest of the administration and the Councilors.

      However, the law does specifically say:

      Section 3A. (a)(1) An MBTA community shall have a zoning ordinance or by-law that provides for at least 1 district of reasonable size in which multi-family housing is permitted as of right; provided, however, that such multi-family housing shall be without age restrictions and shall be suitable for families with children. For the purposes of this section, a district of reasonable size shall: (i) have a minimum gross density of 15 units per acre, subject to any further limitations imposed by section 40 of chapter 131 and title 5 of the state environmental code established pursuant to section 13 of chapter 21A; and (ii) be located not more than 0.5 miles from transit.

      The law says “SHALL BE SUITABLE FOR FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN” when addressing multi-family housing. Most who read law know “SHALL MEANS SHALL. Is the Square an appropriate setting for Children? I say not. Should we also ask why the State’s recommended site was appealed by the Council since it was not Downtown?

      I say if we want to place housing in the Square, go on and do it, but not under the MBTA Law because we would not be in compliance with all of the provisions of the Law.

      Changing the subject, One can question why we should we be concerned about the proliferation of Bio or Life Science Labs in the City? There is no spewing of smoke poisoning our air or water visible as we see in an industrial factory.

      True, but concern has centered on our ability ensure public safety and there are no labs above level 3.

      As we become dependent on this source of financial support, we must also be cognizant of the fact that the National Institute for Health (NIH), the principal source of funding for research conducted by the labs these monies will eventually dry up.

      Thank You,

      Clyde L. Younger, Former Council President and School Committee Member

  2. Where can I find more information regarding how the health department has “designed an actual comprehensive rat plan and is working with City departments, the public and Watertown businesses to follow through with it!”?

    Because the lack of progress on this issue has frustrated me!

    • Stop by and visit the Health Department if you can, they are now very pro-active, you won’t leave disappointed believe me. A phone call also helps, as they say, if they don’t know about it, they can’t do anything about it.

      • We have had a substantial rat problem in my East End neighborhood. The Health Department has be very proactive lately in trying to tamp down the sources of the infestation.

        I agree with Dennis. Call or write them.

  3. Thank you Linda, for taking the time to articulate what many of us have seen, thought, and been frustrated by. The loss of our convenient post office is huge and it’s immensely disappointing that the city has been unwilling to do more than pay lip service to what would be considered a catastrophe in any other city. Even my tiny town up north, population 575, has a post office in its 10 building downtown. Your observations and critical thinking about wrong size development put into writing are like Cassandra’s warnings to her city. Listen up neighbors! Time to speak up.

    Sorry Matthew. you’re dead wrong about “a faction.” We are many, many concerned citizens and tax payers from lots of different perspectives who do not feel represented and don’t mind calling out hypocrisy when we see it.

    • I agree, it’s a lot of people. Clyde Younger got 875 votes! That’s a lot of individual members of our community. But Sideris got 2623. All I’m saying is, on issues where the two groups disagree, we should go with the opinion of the 2623 over the opinion of the 875.

      • It is wrong to consider the vote tally a referendum on development for many reasons. There seems to be a crowd which is constantly misrepresenting the opinions of those who disagree with them and also exaggerate their numbers.

        I believe that a solid majority of Watertown residents have some degree of concern about development. There are however many shades of gray even in that camp.

        All this is much more complicated than the commenter paints it. Trying to make it appear simple reeks of the tactics of you know who.

        • 2023 election results did, in fact, represent a referendum on “development” in our city. All of us should be moving on instead of re-litigating settled issues. For example, there is no reason to continue opposing the 104 Main St. project, which was cleared by the Zoning Board of Appeals. Some people refuse to accept this, but there was more support “for” the project than “against” at the ZBA meetings leading up to this decision. So, it’s perfectly logical that the Design Charrette process should exclude that parcel and assume it’s “built.” I support their approach and look forward to having that building in our city center.

          I disagree that a majority of Watertown residents are concerned about “development,” I think it’s about 25%. It’s just that these folks don’t accept when they lose (sound familiar?).

          • Nope! You can try to represent the small recently arrived minority that you inhabit as the majority, but few, even those in elected office who field the complaints, would believe it.

      • Mr. Lashof-Sullivan, Your insistence that the majority view should prevail over the minority view as a matter of fairness does not function at the national level, where the Democratic candidate for president has now won the popular vote in six of the last seven presidential elections and yet has not become president. Your opinion seems to favor a rules change so that a presidential election reflects the will of Americans and promotes a more participatory democracy. As things stand, a Wyoming resident’s vote counts 3.6 times as much as a Californian’s, giving Wyoming three times more power in the Electoral College than its population would suggest, and populous states subsidize less populous ones, which receive more resources than the tax dollars they send to Washington. Today, equal state representation in the Senate is the only provision, as you surely know, in the Constitution, that cannot be amended. The deliberately undemocratic Senate has increasingly slipped out of alignment with the American population.

        Most reasonable people think minoritarian primacy at the national level is unacceptable. Here at the municipal level, electoral turnout is woefully low, likely reflecting a dissatisfied “what’s the use of voting” attitude on the part of many residents who have opted out of participating in a system where they have learned their views are not heard or valued — where many residents seem to have fallen for a self-destructive illusion, which is that when it comes to what is best for Watertown, elites can manage the city better than regular citizens. In this world view, corporations — Big Pharma, Big Agri business, Big Real Estate, Deep Pocket Developers — are shaping our preferences and forming our concepts of what is good and what is good for us.

  4. Watertown Musophobians you are in trouble…..Part of the rat problem is their incredible fecundity. Rats begin breeding as soon as five weeks of age and continue until about age two. Females are fertile approximately every three weeks, and during this time they have been known to mate up to 500 times (!) in six hours. The resulting pregnancy usually lasts about three weeks, and the litter size typically ranges from 6 to 20 babies…..(https://www.britannica.com/list/8-interesting-facts-about-rats).

  5. Hi J.J.,

    The best that I can do is direct you to the Committee on Human Services meetings where Abbey Myers presented information:

    May 11, 2024

    and December 5, 2024

    For those who’ve been following this issue with the previous Health Director’s reports, we immediately noticed the vast improvement in focus and coordination. It’s taken us a long time to get into this mess. Calming these “beasts,” because that’s all you can do, won’t be an instantaneous thing. And you cannot eradicate them all!

    One thing that apparently we’ve never had is a program to register every dumpster in town, with numbers to call when they’re overflowing. Apparently, once identified in the past, it’s taken days to track down the responsible parties. That gets the problem resolved immediately and gives Health Department personnel more time that could be put to better use.

    These plans will eventually go before the Council for approval, I believe, but Abbey sure is off to a good start!

  6. Hi Chris,

    I didn’t know that we had a “rat lobby” in the City (LOL!). Yes, as I told JJ, we can’t eradicate them, but we do need to work on controlling them more.

    I have a weird story to share. I was outside of my house years ago, when I saw something little and white move. It had little, pink beady eyes that were staring at me, unafraid. I got the attention of a neighbor who said, “Yep. That’s somebody’s pet rat.” He took it in, and I went about trying to find the little kid that lost his/her “best friend.”

    It probably took people years to get over the neighbor who knocked on their doors, asking if they were missing a rat. In the end, “Rosy” as I’d come to call her, ended up in a rat shelter that our City Animal Control officer told us about. Yep. There are such things! It’s all useful information, I guess.

  7. Hi Anne,

    Thanks for your kind words and your perspective on Watertown losing its Post Office. I hadn’t thought about it quite that way, but not having a post office does put Watertown in some sort of second class community status.

  8. Linda, thank you for taking the time to summarize the many issues and thoughts residents have brought forward to city leaders, discussed among each other and commented on in Watertown News and Nextdoor.com over the last year.

    Most of us establish resolutions each year and it is said that many of them fail by mid-February. The proposed resolutions for our city, should they agree to accept them, are too important to be ignored or soon forgotten.

    I would even PROPOSE ONE RESOLUTION FOR ALL OF US Watertown citizens:

    – Watch what is happening, stay informed, get involved, speak up and vote.

    Don’t let your friends and neighbors be the only ones carrying the ball. Attend the various city meetings in person or on Zoom, maybe run for office, and let your voices be heard. Numbers count. Let your voice be part of the many issues and decisions coming up in 2024, whether it be labs bordering or near residential neighborhoods, short-term rentals and their effects on neighbors, ugly buildings being built on Main St., the Watertown Square Plan and whether there’s true transparency in this project, and so many others.

    Perhaps the City Manager should have a public comment or announcement at a Council Meeting, on a televised speech on our local cable TV and/or as a letter in Watertown News on the loss of our Post Office. What’s the whole truth and nothing but the truth on efforts made to find an alternate location or encourage it to actually come back to Main St. in two plus years?

    Linda raised a lot of issues about which many residents are concerned, and NOT JUST A FEW. The silent majority need to raise their voices publicly.

    Highland Ave. residents seem to have made a difference when they banded together to express their road construction problems and got the attention of our city leaders; let’s see what the final results are.

    The zoning petition signers brought key issues forward for discussion and enlightened others of changes needing to be considered for zoning in many areas of the city.

    Clyde Younger, a former Council President, raised issues of much needed transparency and the need to hold elected and appointed people responsible for their assigned duties in our city.

    Woodrow Wilson once said, “The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people.” Let us ring in the new year with greater participation by all and efforts to gain more transparency and trust in our city leaders.

    Let’s make 2024 a year that stands out in our memories for all good things.

    • Hi Joan,

      I strongly agree with your suggestion that more people attend City meetings, etc. I know that many residents have worked tirelessly on City projects in the past, only to have their ideas abruptly dismissed, with no consideration of their merit. That can have a chilling effect on their views of City government and how it relates to them. Then they turn off, feeling helpless.

      The results of this can be felt all over the City. What’s encouraging is that more and more of our fellow citizens are re-entering the discussion. More participation would be even nicer.

      You’ve seen the results of people not being involved (and the results of our City Government making all of the decisions without us). Could it possibly be worse?

      So, my advice to my fellow citizens is to pick an issue, any issue, and jump in. The gratification of helping your city move forward is tremendous…not going to lie…there’ll be some frustrating days too, but you won’t be alone in your concerns, I assure you!

      “The most important political office… that of private citizen.”
      Justice Louis D. Brandeis

  9. Hi Matt,

    It’s nice to know that we can agree on some things. I guess there’s hope for the world.

    I had a long talk with Clyde Younger before he ran for Council President. He had concerns about this City. He knew that elections were comprised of conversations. And if those conversations didn’t happen, because everyone ran unopposed, nothing could be worked out. He was encouraging others to run, just for that purpose. And in the end, he put himself out there…his money where his mouth was. Democracy works best when opinions and ideas are shared.

    I think that your conclusion about the election results is pretty simplistic, but I think that you know that it is as well, given that you’re an attorney. Clyde Younger and Mark Sideris are very different, accomplished people, but they are not polar opposites. They have both served this City honorably.

    Let me throw one word out to you: balance. Balance, because I think if people really sat down and analyzed this problem, balance is the issue.

    If our community becomes nothing but rows of apartment buildings for a transient population, that causes an imbalance.

    If small businesses are on land purchased by a large industry that is already abundant in a community, that can cause an imbalance.

    If medical facilities are in danger of closing in a community, forcing residents to have to leave town for their medical care, because developers have other ideas for making their money, imbalance once again.

    What is a city?

    • Spatial Justice.
    • Sociable Streets.
    • Entrepreneurship.
    • Walkability.
    • Diversity of ages, uses and cultures.


    We’re losing it here in Watertown, and with that, we’re losing our identity as a diverse and multicultural community, with people and families at all income levels.

    Let’s start thinking like planners, and not just ones who fold under the pressure of predatory businesses.

  10. And oh by the way, the biolabs in our city do operate responsibly and none have had any “serious chemical spill” that would endanger the public. Inflammatory language like that should be immediately and forcefully put down.

    For context: the companies which occupy the biolab buildings are almost all for-profit businesses, created and funded by investors who expect a return. These companies already have every possible incentive to protect their own workers and their business reputations.

    As an industry veteran and East Watertown homeowner, I’ve attended at least a half dozen BioSafety Committee meetings and in general they’re doing a good job. However, I have seen a vibe of arrogance in some communications (particularly one member) which implies that, if it weren’t for the Committee, the companies would not do the right thing. I’ve also been disconcerted to see that some Committee members don’t seem to understand some of the research being conducted. I don’t mean to suggest we should not have a BioSafety Committee, and I appreciate that they are all volunteers (thank you for your service!). But improvements would be welcome. I suggest that the Committee take a more regulation-focused approach, i.e. enforce the specifics in our regulations, i.e. every comment they make should be based on something in the regulations so as to avoid over-extending their “advice.”

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