Candidate Q&A: Clyde Younger

Watertown News: Please provide a brief description of yourself: your family, profession, any other relevant information.

Clyde L. Younger: Black or Afro-American. Wife, Mary and one son Michael. Grew up in Denver, CO. A graduate with a B.A. from what would now be called Coach Prime’s School; however, I am not an athlete. I am a Senior Citizen.

Upon graduation, I was recruited by both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), PHS and the Navy. The Navy was looking to expand their number of Black Officers.

I chose CDC because the salary was higher. My first assignment was in the Venereal Disease Control Program in Los Angeles for 14 months; promoted and assigned to work in the City of Albuquerque, N.M. After two years, I transferred into the Tuberculosis Control (TB) and assigned to Health and Hospitals of the City Boston to assist in administering their TB Program. From that assignment I was promoted and assigned to help administer the State TB program.

Other positions held – Regional Director, Family Planning Services, PHS Region I. I later was a participant in a one-year U.S.P.H.S Executive Intern Program; afterward, Deputy Director Preventive Health Services, PHS Region I. (Boston)

I have served the Community in one capacity or another since I first arrived in 1967. My wife Mary and I first helped with the Saturday Movies at the Browne School where the School Administration and Educators were outstanding, encouraging parental involvement in the education of their children.

It is here that I was taught what Community Service Means. I served at the Browne school as President of Pack 226 and PTA President.

My service evolved from the Browne School to running for Town Meeting Member, School Committee, Charter Commissioner and later served as The Town Council President from 1997 until 2010.

WN: Please tell us about what inspired you to run for City Council President, and what experiences you have that would help you serve on the Council. 

CY: The impetus for my entering or running for office centers on concern where the city is heading. I find it laudable that the infrastructure needs of the schools is being met; however, my perception, which may be incorrect, is that the funding for the new construction or school renovations is heavily predicated and dependent upon new growth which provides an open door for all sorts of development.

I am concerned, although the Superintendent is satisfied with the budget percentage increase received for the Schools by the fact that I have never seen the Administrative budget of the City outstrip the School Budget. This trajectory is troubling.

An examination is warranted, as to is whether the additional positions are at the expense of salary increases for City Hall Employees.

New Growth can only be achieved through increasing density. Overbuilding in a small community such as Watertown is fraught with future problems in the absence of careful planning. Noteworthy, Somerville, a city of comparable size as Watertown is the densest city in New England and nineteenth in the Country.

The heavy reliance on the Bio-Labs and new large Buildings can lead to future fiscal problems. My experience, working for the UPHS, the National Institutes funding is for a limited period as is Venture Capitalists who support research.

Change is inevitable; however, overbuilding can also occur.

We witness the disparity of treatment of Small Developers and Petitioners versus Large Developers in terms of technical assistance and advice. I was surprised that a petition signed by over 500 voters did not obtain the assistance needed from the Planning Department to conform It does not matter whether the Department supported the issue. The Petitioners were not provided the required technical assistance by the Planning Department.

The need for the Planning Department to Develop and Implement Clear-Cut Objective Criteria. It is important that the Department minimizes the subjectivity claimed by Small Businesses.

WN: During your campaigning, what have you heard most from Watertown residents, and what was something that was a new issue or surprised you? 

Everyone mentions the state of disrepair the Streets and Sidewalks are in. In addition, there appears no rhyme or reason related to those that are repaired. One block will be completed leaving the other blocks unattended.

Another primary concern is “Why, with all of the New Growth occurring in the City, my Taxes are not going down.” The approval, by our Planners of Bio-Life Sciences Buildings and Research appears to outweigh neighborhood concerns. The Planners appear to turn a deaf ear to those immediately abutting the developments. Noteworthy, these neighborhoods are providing a buffer to more centrally located neighborhoods.

Many wish the Planning Department to begin governing the number of Labs. I share their concern. My concern has been furthered by the Chamber of Commerce’s debate where the question was posed how we think the City can help the financially distressed Bio-Labs?

WN: Watertown just kicked off the process to reimagine Watertown Square. Planners will be listening to input from the public over the coming weeks. What would you tell them are your priorities for the Square? What would you like to see changed in the center of town?

CY: I presented a number of recommendations to the Consultants that was shared with the Senior Planner. One recommendation was constructing a Walk/Bike Path Bridge over Galen Street similar to the bridge Bentley College did over Beaver Street. This would assist Perkins Residents as well as sighted individuals cross the Square’s Intersections.

Another was to preserve existing historic buildings of the Square; Restrict development by only allowing one additional level for new businesses or housing. If possible, to make the Center of Town as Rustic as possible to reflect Watertown’s History in the formation of the Country. Lighting for the dismal or dark business area of the Square. Consider aesthetics with updated Colonial Post LED Lighting Poles.

Meeting with Property and Business Owners in the Square to determine how the City may assist in sustaining and improving their viability/ownership and inclusion of their businesses in the final design and recommendations by the City.

New Sidewalks for the entire area of the Square. Currently, when cracks develop, they are filled with asphalt. Take By Imminent Domain the vacant lot across from the old New Yorker Diner for additional parking for the Square’s Businesses.

Negotiate and assist building owners/ business owners regarding adding a second floor above their business allowing a different concept above their restaurant, etc.

Negotiating with the State Highway Department for an easement on the west side of Mt. Auburn (Rte. 16) in order to widen the sidewalk on the west side from Main Street to Summer Street. (Parking only on the East side of Mt. Auburn.)

Allow shared space for outdoor service/dining during the Spring, Summer and Autumn. A complementary canopy could cover from the roof over the sidewalk for rainy days. (To bring in more foot traffic from Gables, and Elan Watertown Apartments)

WN: City Manager George Proakis has started to reorganize and add to Watertown’s Municipal Government. Which departments do you think need the most attention? Why, and what changes would you like to see?

CY: To be Frank, I have to catch up on all of the new positions and their duties. When I left office, most were not in place and no Town/City positions were housed in the Parker School.

WN: As Watertown has grown and developed, the City’s public safety departments — Police and Fire — have been dealing with more incidents and emergencies. What can be done to help them, and would you support adding more personnel to these departments?

An updated examination of the minimum manning requirements for the city must be undertaken. It is known that training time is required for personnel of both departments. I would not be opposed to seeking a Home Rule Petition enabling retired, physically fit personnel to work under a contractual agreement so that their pensions are not adversely affected to enable the City to meet the minimum manning requirements. In addition, I support purchasing a Hazmat Fire Truck for the Fire Department.

WN: The Council President also serves on the School Committee. What are the most pressing issues facing the Watertown Public Schools? Why, and explain how you would like the issue or issues tackled?

I see that the infrastructure needs of the Schools are being met or planned. If the USA Magazine is correct and we are slightly below the state graduation rate and our AP student participation is low, it is a matter that I would be working with the Committee and the Superintendent on how we can improve on these matters. Student-Teacher ratio is ambiguous. I would also assist the Superintendent in establishing Universal Pre-K. I have questions about adding a fifth year of school for Late Bloomers or those who need to complete additional classes in order to get a diploma rather than a certificate. Lastly, meet the needs of Vocational Ed. for those Students not college bound.