3 Watertown Police Officers Honored for Facing Marathon Bombers

Several of Watertown’s finest are going to have to make room in their trophy cases, next to their Medal of Valor and Top Cop awards, after receiving the Congressional Badge of Bravery Friday. U.S. Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Representatives Joe Kennedy and Katherine Clark, and U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz were on hand to bestow the medals to Sergeants John MacLellan, Jeffrey Pugliese, and officer Joseph Reynolds, who received the awards during a ceremony at the Watertown Police Station Friday. MacLellan, Pugliese, and Reynolds were three of the seven officers who engaged the Boston Marathon Bombers in a dramatic shootout that left one of them dead, and launched a massive manhunt for the other. Right before he watched the officers receive their medals, Town Manager Michael Driscoll said he has never been prouder in the 38 years he’s worked for the town. “To the men and women of the Watertown Police Department, thank you,” Driscoll said.

Watertown Officials Discuss Plans to Battle Heroin, Opiates Crisis

The Watertown will establishing an official drug drop box, and getting about 20 needle disposal boxes as the town works to combat scourge of drug overdoses that left eight people dead in Watertown this year. The Human Services Sub Committee met will officials from the Watertown Police and fire, the Watertown Board of Health, and local several nonprofits to discuss an outline the W.A.T.E.R.town Task Force’s action plan to combat substance abuse, Monday. Along with discussing the plan, town officials said that the drug drop box would be up and running at the Watertown Police Station in about two weeks, and that the sharps and needle disposal boxes would be placed at the police station, in town buildings, and potentially private business in the near future. In addition to the drug drop box, the Committee also passed a motion during their previous meeting to recommend that the town council recommend the town manager require patrol officers to carry the anti-overdose drug Narcan, and receive training in its use. The Town Council voted unanimously to make the recommendation to the Town Manager.

Family Says Officer Died From Injuries From Shootout with Bombers in Watertown

A Boston Police officer who collapsed and died last year may have died from injuries suffered during the shootout with the Boston Marathon Bombing suspects in Watertown, and his family is seeking benefits related to the incident. On April 19, 2013 Boston Police Officer Dennis Simmonds reportedly rushed into Watertown, where officers were engaged in a fierce gun battle with the Tsarnaev brothers. Simmonds was allegedly knocked off his feet and suffered a head injury after one of the brothers threw an explosive that night. A year later, he collapsed and died while working out at the Boston Police Academy Gym. He was 28, and a six year veteran of the BPD.

Council Seeks OK from Legislature to Give Greater Residential Tax Relief

The Council voted this week to file a home rule petition with the State Legislature that would allow the Council to increase the residential tax exemption to a maximum of 30 percent in future years. The council voted to file the petition in order to give them flexibility to increase the residential exemption beyond the current ceiling of 20 percent. Francis J. Golden, Chairman of the Board of Assessors, said that 6,058 residential properties would benefit from raising the exemption, while residential properties valued at more than $750,000 would absorb a higher tax burden. Golden stressed that voting for the home rule petition did not mean the Council was required to increase it beyond its current ceiling. “I stress that it’s important that we just have the flexibility,” Golden said.

Changes Made to Hotel Proposal Do Not Satisfy Concerned Residents

Despite a local developer’s efforts to redesign plans for a proposed hotel at 80 Elm Street, Town Councilor Angeline Kounelis and a group of East end residents said they still don’t want it in their neighborhood last week. “It does not belong on Elm Street,” Kounelis said. The residents and several Town Councilors gathered at he Apartments at Coolidge School’s Function Room on Arlington Street, May 7 for an option neighborhood meeting about the proposed five-story, 104-room hotel. Despite already meeting the required number of neighborhood meetings, developer Cherag Patel held the meeting to address concerns residents had previously expressed. The project is scheduled to by heard at a special planning board meeting on May 21.

After Long Process, Watertown’s Comprehensive Plan Nears Completion

The Town Council, and the Planning Board gathered with residents at the Watertown Middle School this week to put the final touches on the town’s long anticipated Comprehensive Plan. The Council and the Board presented the plan during a joint conference Wednesday, May 6. The comprehensive plan outlines the town’s goals through 2025, and is the town’s first since 1988, according to the town comprehensive plan website. The plan calls to “reinforce Watertown Square as a town center” transform Arsenal Corridor into a “dynamic mixed-use-corridor.”

The town original aimed to have the plan completed in 2013, but the process took longer than expected, Steve Magoon, Director of Planning and Development said. The Planning Board and the Town Council will vote on the proposed plan at upcoming meetings.

Reappointment of ZBA Chair Stirs Heated Debate Among Council, Others

Despite objections from residents, the Town Council recently voted to reappoint Melissa M. Santucci Rozzi as Chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals. Councilors voted nearly unanimously to reappoint Rozzi during a Town Council meeting Tuesday, March 10. Prior to the vote, several councilors said they had heard from residents who were unhappy with Rozzi after the ZBA approved a controversial proposal for a CVS in Coolidge Ave. Despite objections from residents, every member of the council expressed support for Rozzi except Tony Palomba, who said he was disappointed at how his fellow councilors reacted to the public’s criticism of Rozzi. Palomba voted present.

Traffic a Concern for Some With Proposal to Renovate Grove Street Site

Residents recently got their first look at local developers plans to redevelop the former GE Ionics building at 65 Grove St. Cresset Grove LLC. unveiled its proposed plans to redevelop the former GE building during a community meeting at the Coolidge School apartment complex on Monday Sept. 29. The proposed plans includes large glass windows that would make the building more transparent, a roof terrace, improved drainage system in the parking lot, and a four-story 350 car garage with a bamboo screen wall along the back.