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.

Watertown’s First CIO Seeks to Improve Communication with Residents, Make Town More Transparent

Watertown’s Chief Information Officer Chris McClure. The Town of Watertown’s first ever Chief Information Officer, or CIO, came on board on Oct. 19, and has a slew of changes he would to make so Town officials can communicate more effectively with residents and make the government more transparent. Christopher McClure comes to Watertown from North Andover, where he was the information technology (IT) director. He plans some big changes for the Town’s social media accounts, the website and other technology.

Watertown Student Group’s Night March Looks to Raise Awareness of Environmental Issues

Members of Sunrise Watertown work on banners for the Late Night March on Oct. 23 to raise awareness about environmental issues. The following announcement was provided by Sunrise Watertown:

On Friday, October 23rd, Sunrise Watertown will lead a late-night march using tactics that are over a century old to enact change in the present day.Their goal is to educate the town on the truth of the climate crisis while also drawing support for a Green New Deal. WHO: Sunrise Watertown, a local student-owned and run organization. WHAT: Late night march led by Sunrise Watertown to wake up the community to the climate crisis.

Bluebikes Opens New Station at Arsenal Yards, Officials Say Bike Share Has Had a Good Start

The recently installed BlueBike station outside Arsenal Yards. Bikeshare company Lyft Bluebikes opened its latest docking station at Arsenal Yards with some fanfare last week. It is the fourth in Watertown with three more planned, and Town officials say they have already drawn a lot of interest. The first Bluebike station in Watertown opened in August, as part of a five community expansion, which also included Newton and Arlington. Three of the Town’s stations in are on public land, but four will be located on private property, said Laura Wiener, Watertown’s Transportation Planner.

Early Voting for Presidential Election Begins Saturday Oct. 17

Watertown residents can head to Town Hall beginning Saturday to cast their ballot in the Presidential Election. This election, there will be 14 days of early, in-person voting at Town Hall, 149 Main St., Watertown. COVID-19 social distancing measures will be taken in the voting areas, including plexiglass between poll workers and voters, pens only being used once and voting booths being spaced at least 6 feet apart. Early voting dates and times are listed below. Ballots have already begun to stream into the Watertown Town Clerk’s Office.

Marijuana Dispensary’s Community Agreement Approved by Council

The Town Council approved the Home Community Agreement with the third and final recreational marijuana dispensary in Watertown on Tuesday night. Sira Naturals seeks to open a dispensary at 48 North Beacon St. in the building where containing Anthony’s Florist and, on the Arsenal Street side, where Escort Limousine. The agreement is the third approved by the Town Council. Cities and towns cannot deny all recreational marijuana (also called adult use) dispensaries, but they can limit the number to 10 percent of the number of liquor licenses.

LETTER: Resident Urges Voters to Support Questions 3 & 4

This November, voters in the 29th Middlesex district are encouraged to vote YES on 100% Renewable Energy and YES on Transparency, which will be Questions 3 and 4 on the ballot in this district. Climate science demands that we enact sweeping changes to our energy economy in the next 10 years to avert climate catastrophe. A commitment to 100% renewable energy will put us on the right track. Transparency of committee votes is key to realizing this goal. Bills committing MA to 100% renewable energy have been killed in committee repeatedly over the past 6 years, and, without committee vote transparency, we don’t even know who is responsible for their failure to come to a vote. Please join me in voting YES on 100% Renewable Energy and YES on Transparency to put Massachusetts on the right track to be a leader in climate change solutions. Richard KalishPleasant Street, Watertown

COVID-19 Will Impact Watertown’s Budget, Property Tax Revenue Will Grow

Watertown’s Town Hall. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will be felt in the Town of Watertown’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget (which starts July 1, 2021) but a recent real estate deal will help relieve some of the pain. This year’s budget is the 29th that Town Manager Michael Driscoll has led in Watertown, but he is dealing with a new challenge when making the FY 2022 budget. As part of Tuesday’s budget presentation to the Town Council, Driscoll had a list of budget issues for FY 2021 and FY 2022. “There are 61 bullets on this page.