Watertown Ballot Drop Box to be Closed on Halloween

The ballot drop off box outside Watertown’s Town Hall. Watertown’s ballot drop box will be closed on Saturday, Oct. 31, Town Clerk John Flynn said. The Town Clerk’s office sent out the following announcement:

Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin has asked that ballot drop boxes be secured on Saturday, October 31st to avoid any Halloween pranks. The Town of Watertown will lock its ballot drop box, located on Saltonstall park side of Town Hall, at 5:00 p.m. on Halloween and will reopen at 8 a.m. the following morning. 

The ballot drop box will then remain open until polls close at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, November 3rd.

Town Using Part of Budget Surplus to Fund Climate & Energy Master Plan

Watertown’s Town Hall. On Tuesday, the Town Council approved using some of the funds left over from the Fiscal Year 2021 budget to fund the creation of a Climate and Energy Master Plan. Town Manager Michael Driscoll told the Town Council that the Town’s share of state aid and new growth came in higher than projected when the FY21 budget was created. As a result, the Town ended up with $1.57 million in additional revenues. He proposed using the money in multiple ways, including the Climate and Energy Plan.

Halloween Weekend Filled with Open Houses in Watertown

See this week’s Watertown open houses. $1,099,000 – 8 Brandley Road, Single Family – Detached Colonial, 4,000 Living Area Sq. Ft. (Includes Finished Basement), 14 Room, 6 Bedroom, 3 Full & 2 Half Bathroom, Open House: Sunday 12-1:30

$1,200,000 – 1-3 Theurer Park, Multi-family Home – 2 Family, 2,576 Living Area Sq. Ft., 2 Units, 10 Total Rooms, 4 Total Bedrooms, Open House: Saturday 12-2

$549,000 – 730 Belmont St.

COVID-19 Cases Rising in Watertown, Town Remains in Yellow

A screenshot of the state’s Community Level COVID-19 Reporting map released on Oct. 29, 2020. Watertown remained “yellow” in the State’s COVID-19 tracking program this week, but the number of positive cases of COVID-19 rose close to the threshold for the Town to become “red,” or high risk. The Town has a total of 34 positive COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks for a total of 514. That puts Watertown’s rate at 7.32 cases per 100,000 residents, so the town remained yellow (or moderate risk).

Big Voter Turnout Already in Watertown From Mail-In Ballots, Early Voting

The ballot drop off box outside Watertown’s Town Hall. Many Watertown voters have already cast their ballot in the 2020 Presidential Election, with the number of votes already received by the Town Clerk’s office nearly as high as the total cast in the September Preliminary Election. As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 40 percent of Watertown’s registered voters had turned in their ballots, according to Town Manager Michael Driscoll, who got the latest numbers from Town Clerk John Flynn. The Town sent out 13,255 vote-by-mail and absentee ballots, many of which have already been returned, Driscoll said, plus early voting started on Oct. 17 and continues through Oct.

Parking Plan with High-Tech Meters, Pay by Card & Phone Approved

Watertown’s current parking meters will be replaced with “smart” meters that offer a range of payment options. Watertown’s parking lots will be getting new meters which allow for paying by credit card and with cell phone apps in the parking plan approved by the Town Council on Tuesday night. The Parking Management Plan was the result of studies that go back to the fall of 2018. It included studies of how parking is used in Watertown, public meetings and surveys and presentations to the Council’s Joint Committees on Public Works and Economic Development & Planning. Other parts of the plan look at pricing of meters and who sets them, way-finding signage for the municipal lots, looking at finding private lots for the Town to partner with, and even creation of a pedestrian path through the lot near the Watertown Library.

Charter Committee Looks at Areas to Improve Watertown’s Government

Watertown Town Hall

The group looking at making changes the Watertown Town Charter talked about their views on changing to a mayor, how to make the Town government more responsive to residents and how to get residents involved in the charter review. Last week, the Charter Review Committee held its second meeting, and welcomed members of the Collins Institute, the UMass-Boston based group with expertise in municipal governments that is working with the group on the Charter Review. Going into the charter review, some residents have called for Watertown to move from the current strong-town-manager model of government to one headed by a mayor. The Charter Review Committee can make major changes, said Michael Ward of the Collins Institute, such as the form of government, or smaller changed such as who reports to the Town Manager, who reports the Town Council, and which positions and boards are elected vs. appointed.

Positive COVID Test Reported at Watertown School, Reopening Still Going Ahead

Hosmer Elementary School in Watertown. The Watertown Public Schools had a person test positive for COVID-19 in the same week that the elementary schools are preparing to welcome students back for in-person learning. Superintendent Dede Galdston announced that a person at Hosmer Elementary School had tested positive, but added that the case would not stop plans to start hybrid learning at the school on Tuesday. Watertown school staff can participate in free testing for the virus provided by the Broad Institute in Cambridge, but Galdston said that the positive test was not through that program. “…