Latest Draft of Watertown Square Area Plan Has Some Changes, More Detail

Public Weighed-in on Proposal at Thursday’s Meeting, No Vote Taken

City Manager George Proakis presents the Watertown Square Area Plan draft to the Planning Board and City Council on Thursday night at Watertown Middle School. (Photo by Charlie Breitrose)

City officials presented the latest draft of the Watertown Square Area Plan to the public on Thursday night, but the City Council and Planning Board did not take a vote on the proposal. They will reconvene in two weeks to continue discussing the report. At the meeting held at Watertown Middle School, City Manager George Proakis said even when the draft is approved, it will not be the end of the process. Rather, he paraphrased a Winston Churchill quote from World War II,

“I actually think we are at the end of the beginning of this process by handing you over a plan,” Proakis said.

Housing Secretary Tells Chamber Crowd That MBTA Communities Act is Key to a Strong Economy

Ed Augustus, Massachusetts Secretary of Housing & Livable Communities, spoke at the Charles River Regional Chamber’s Spring Business Breakfast. (Courtesy of Charles River Chamber)

NEEDHAM — Building more housing is key to maintaining the local economy and preventing people from leaving the state, the Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Livable Communities told the audience at last week’s Charles River Regional Chamber’s Spring Business Breakfast. Secretary Ed Augustus urged people at the event held at the Needham Sheraton to support the MBTA Communities Law in their communities, as well as pushing the Legislature to support the Governor’s Affordable Homes Act. He cited the example of a 24-year-old woman who moved home with her parents to save money while getting her graduate degree, and still has not been able to move out — despite having a degree and a good job — because she can’t find a place that she can afford. “Now this woman’s story might be simply unfortunate, if it was unique, but it’s not.

Watertown Square Meeting Thursday Night, Kids Activities Available

The City of Watertown provided the following information:

The Watertown Square Area Plan will be discussed at the upcoming Joint City Council and Planning Board Hearing on June 13 at 6 PM in the Watertown Middle School Auditorium. The Hearing will include a presentation from the Project Team, followed by an opportunity for public comment. You can access the full agenda for the Joint Hearing here. 

You can access the plan document on the project’s website or in the above agenda packet to learn about the Draft Plan. This Hearing is a hybrid meeting and you can give public comment either in-person or virtually. To join virtually, you can access the Hearing on June 13 by using this Zoom link, which can also be found on the project’s website and in the agenda above. The City of Watertown’s Recreation Department will also be hosting a “kids-space” during the Hearing for kids ages 5-12 in the Middle School Cafeteria to accommodate those attending! 

Printed copies of the Plan Document can be found at the Watertown Library and Senior Center. You can learn more about the project at the Watertown Square Area Plan website, where you can also reach out with any questions about the Joint Hearing.

City Manager’s Zoning Presentation TONIGHT! See How to Tune-in and Participate

Ahead of the June 13 Watertown Square Area Plan meeting, City Manager George Proakis will be speaking about what zoning can and cannot do in Massachusetts during a live broadcast with a Q&A time on Monday at 6 p.m.

The City provided the following information about the event:

Watch City Manager George Proakis present about zoning live at 6 p.m. on June 3, 2024, on Watertown Cable Access! City Manager Proakis will present about how zoning works, how it can benefit and shape the community, its limitations, and much more! Following the presentation, he will sit down to answer questions with the WCATV team before answering questions submitted directly by the Watertown residents! You can watch the presentation live online. You can submit any questions you have about zoning.

Watertown Square Plan Documents Released Along with Agenda for Public Meeting

The City of Watertown sent out the following announcement:

The Joint Hearing of the City Council and Planning Board to be held on June 13, 2024 at 6:00 PM at Watertown Middle School Auditorium, 68 Waverley Avenue. The Watertown Square Area Plan Document has been posted and you can access the document here (PDF). You can also access an appendix document of the updated MBTA Communities Zoning Summary (PDF). The Plan Document will be discussed at the City Council and Planning Board Joint Hearing on June 13, 2024, at 6:00 PM in the Watertown Middle School Auditorium at 68 Waverley Avenue in Watertown. Printed copies of the Plan Document will be made available at the Watertown Free Public Library and at the Watertown Senior Center starting next week.

Edible Watertown Program Receives National Endowment for the Arts Grant

The artwork from Edible Plants 2022, Clockwise from top left: Daylily by Patti Murphy, Bee Balm by Niloufar Keyhani, Elderberry by Marija Draskic
Brancazio, Wintergreen by Kate Martens, Mayapple by Carol Leonesio, Mountain Mint by Cat Bennett, Huckleberry
by Donna Calleja, Red Bud by Debajyoti Biswas, Bearberry by Connie Henry, and Garlic Chives by Jaclyn Kain. The following announcement was provided by the City of Watertown:

The Public Arts & Culture Committee is pleased to announce it has been approved by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) for a Grants for Arts Projects award of $20,000. This grant will support the Edible Watertown: Expert Pairings project. In total, the NEA will award 1,135 Grants for Arts Projects awards totaling more than $37 million as part of its second round of fiscal year 2024 grants. “Projects like Edible Watertown exemplify the creativity and care with which communities are telling their stories, creating connection, and responding to challenges and opportunities in their communities—all through the arts,” said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD.

Hours of Watertown City Hall, Senior Center & More Changing After Council Vote

Hours will be changing for Watertown City departments in City Hall, the Parker Annex, along with the Senior Center, after a City Council vote on Tuesday. These facilities will be open later on Tuesdays and close earlier on Fridays throughout the year. City Manager George Proakis said at a previous meeting that the change in hours would help the city recruit employees, and that many surrounding communities have early closings on Fridays. One area of concern was resident’s ability to pay bills at the Treasurer’s office on Fridays. “There have been discussions about how it affects particular employees, and how it impacts the public as a whole,” Proakis said.

Date and Venue for Next Watertown Square Area Plan Meeting Announced

The City of Watertown provided the following announcement:

The Watertown Square Area Plan will be discussed at the Joint Hearing on Thursday, June 13, 2024, at 6:00 PM in the Watertown Middle School Auditorium at 68 Waverley Avenue in Watertown. Please note the updated date and location. The Joint Hearing will be to discuss the plan document submitted to the City Council and Planning Board prior to the Hearing. This plan document will also be shared on the Project Website, on the City of Watertown’s website and social media prior to the Hearing on June 13, 2024. The online participation information will be released closer to the event, along with the Public Hearing’s agenda and the plan document.