City Manager: Team Working on Watertown Square Study is Creative & Collaborative

City of Watertown

Work on solving one of the biggest riddles facing Watertown, how to fix Watertown Square, will soon begin, City Manager George Proakis said this week, and the process will include some new approaches with plenty of public participation. Proakis spent a significant chunk of time talking about the Watertown Square study during Wednesday’s State of the City event. “One of the key goals that came out of the Comprehensive Plan is that we need to look at Watertown Square in a holistic manner,” Proakis said. The study will not just look at how the main intersection operates for motor vehicles, but also buses, pedestrians, and bicyclists, Proakis said. The study will not just look at how to get through and around the Square, but also being able to “enjoy the space.”

While the State of the City Looks Good, Manager Also Address Challenges Facing Watertown

City Manager George Proakis, left, and City Council President Mark Sideris spoke during the first annual State of the City on Wednesday night. Behind them is a photo of a juggler at the Faire on the Square. (Courtesy of the City of Watertown)

The State of the City of Watertown is strong and the future is bright, City Manager George Proakis said during the first annual State of the City on Wednesday night, but there are still many challenges to deal with. The event where the City Manager and the City Council President talk about how the City of Watertown is doing is now required to be held annually, following the changes to Watertown’s City Charter adopted in 2021. At the end of his presentation, Proakis included a photo of a performer at the Faire on the Square.

LETTER: Watertown Historical Commission’ Streamlined Process Should be More Transparent

By Linda ScottWatertown Resident

So … is a Watertown City Council meeting hearing worth attending? I attended one last night on zoom … a shoutout to citizens who sat through it all for hours in real time in the Council Chambers. So, is it a “done deal” by the time it gets to the hearing? Hmmm … It was all about a move by the Historic Commission to streamline its process. Not a bad idea.

Assisted Listening Devices Available in Council Chambers in City Hall

Watertown City Hall

The following announcement was provided by the City of Watertown:

If you need assistance listening to any meeting in Council Chambers in City Hall, please ask the person running the meeting for a device when you enter the room. They will show you where you can borrow a device during the meeting. Also in Council Chambers are huge television screens that display all discussions in large type closed captions. Closed captions are a text version of spoken words. Closed captioning was developed to enable people with hearing impairments read the audio on that can’t be heard.

Master Plan for Watertown Mall Redevelopment & Parking Garage Going Before Planning Board

A view of the plans for the Watertown Mall Transformation Project. (Illustration from Alexandria Real Estate)

Wednesday night, the Planning Board will hear plans for the redevelopment of the Watertown Mall and nearby properties planned by Alexandria Real Estate Equities. Alexandria seeks a Master Plan Special Permit with Site Plan Review for what is known as the Watertown Mall Transformation Project. The plan calls for four office/lab buildings, a new retail building, two amenity spaces and two parking garages, including one that would be a separate project at 480 Arenal Way. The application reads: “The proposed master plan would create a new mix of uses within a development that spans 4 existing parcels, carried out in phases, with laboratory/R&D, retail, office, commercial and amenity space within 8 buildings (Target/building to remain), with supporting structured and surface parking.”

OP-ED: State Budget Includes Money for High School Project, Special Education & Roads

State Sen. Will Brownsberger

The following piece was provided by State Sen. Will Brownsberger, whose district includes Watertown, Belmont and parts of Boston. Monday, the House and Senate finalized the Fiscal 2024 Budget. I’m including some highlights of the items that were important advocacy priorities for me. I’m also sharing the Senate President’s Press Release on the agreement for a broader overview. Overall, I am very pleased with this year’s budget and I feel that it reflects many of my stated priorities.

Council Committees to Interview Nominees for Multiple Boards

Photo by Charlie BreitroseWatertown City Hall

A pair of City Council Committees will interview nominees for appointment or reappointment to the Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, Board of Health, and the Affordable Housing Trust. The Committee on Economic Development and Planning will consider the appointment of Samuel Odamah to the Zoning Board in a term expiring in February 2025. They will also consider reappointing Christopher Heep to the Zoning Board for a term running until February 2028, and the reappointment of Payson Whitney III to the Planning Board for a term ending in February 2026. The remote meeting will be held Wednesday, Aug. 2 at 5 p.m. See the agenda and how to tune in by clicking here.

2023 Watertown Election Features Races for Council President & School Committee

The candidates running for City office in 2023 have been set, and Watertown voters will have to choose from the current and a former City Council President, and will elect at least one new School Committee member. The deadline to file to run in the Nov. 7 Watertown City Election was Monday at 5 p.m.

Council President

Mark Sideris, the Council President since 2010, will face the man he defeated to become President in 2009. Clyde Younger filed to run on Monday. He served as Council President from 1997-2004, and 2006-2009, and also has been elected to the Council, School Committee, and Town Meeting, before Watertown went to the Council-Manager style of government.