LETTER: Loss of Russo’s Hurts, But Watertown Still Has Many Gems

To the Editor:

Reports of culture’s demise in Watertown are greatly exaggerated. Is there a way for Watertown to avoid losing a gem like Russo’s, some have asked? (https://www.watertownmanews.com/2021/08/16/letter-is-there-a-way-for-watertown-to-avoid-losing-a-gem-like-russos/) The simple answer is no. There isn’t any one shop that can replace Russo’s in Watertown. That’s gone; like so many of gentrified Boston’s mainstays such as No Names, Durgin-Park, soon-to-be closed Kowloon, Circle Pizza, Jimmy’s Harborside, Anthony’s, and so many more.

LETTER: ‘Thank You for Your Service’ from Watertown Veterans’ Services Officer

I remember exactly where I was on 9-11-01. Similarly, I recall exactly where I was when I wastold I’d be going on my first deployment to Afghanistan. I was an aviation IT Marine who was chosen to teach the Afghanistan National Army (ANA) how to maintain HMMWVs and operatein convoys. 

I was 21, suddenly in charge of the training and support of over 100 ANA soldiers alongside fiveMarines and five interpreters. We accomplished a lot of great things on that deployment; weimproved the training and their fleet of vehicles; and even got a literacy program established tobuild create better ANA soldiers. In Marine Corps terms: we left things better than we foundthem; and we served to protect the service members to our left and our right.

LETTER: Planning Board Member Explains Comments Made at the July Meeting

Dear Honorable Town Councillors and fellow Planning Board members:

I am writing to you all today in regards to some comments that I made at the July 14th Planning Board meeting, which have apparently caused some consternation amongst several members of the Watertown community at large, and for which I would like to set the record straight:

First of all, I would like to be absolutely clear on the fact that I take public feedback on proposed projects very seriously — in fact, on several occasions during Planning Board meetings, I have expressed my preference to hear comments from the public BEFORE board members add their thoughts and questions, because these comments often influence my own. I always make every effort to read all of the letters and e-mails that are forwarded to us by Planning Staff, even when they are “form letters” where only the author’s name and address are altered, but the text is otherwise identical. My objection, in this case, was to the expectation of having to read dozens of messages that arrived in my Inbox on the afternoon of the meeting, within hours of the meeting start time, which is why I expressed my strong preference to have some sort of “cut-off” time for e-mailed public comments, prior to the meeting. I have no objection whatsoever to hearing any and all public comments, either in person or read into the record from e-mails, live at the hearing.   

As for the letter from 3 members of the WE3C that I read aloud at the meeting, my intent in reading that particular letter was to voice my frustration which was exacerbated by a comment made by a community member on the Zoom call, and for that I apologize to all of you and to the community at large — I realize that, as a member of this board, I need to have a “thicker skin” when it comes to situations like these. In summary, I can assure you that I take my role as a Planning Board member quite seriously, and always value the feedback of members of the public, so long as it is expressed in a respectful manner. I am proud and honored to represent my community on this board, and I hope that people have found my decisions to be fair and thoughtfully considered, even if they do not necessarily agree with the outcomes. Sincerely,

Jason D. Cohen

Watertown Planning Board

Vice-Chair, Community Preservation Committee

New Plan for Arsenal on the Charles Approved by Planning Board, Millions in Mitigation Projects to be Done

LETTER: Is There a Way for Watertown to Avoid Losing a Gem like Russo’s?

To the Editor:

I just saw on line that Russo’s is closing. This store has been a cherished family-owned retailer for more than 70 years, and we are deeply grateful to Tony Russo and his family and to their wonderful employees for their dedication and hard work – and for all their contributions to our community. We wish Tony and his family a happy, healthy, and well-deserved retirement. And we wish the Russo’s employees all the best as they face an uncertain future when Russo’s closes. Russo’s is a gem.  What will happen to Watertown when it is gone??!!! I think that all the Russo’s customers — and this includes shoppers from all across metropolitan Boston, not only Watertown — view Russo’s as a unique resource for excellent reasonably-priced produce and fruit, a great bakery, and wonderful source of cheeses and prepared foods — plus plants and gardening supplies and Christmas trees. For many of us, Russo’s is a weekly destination for shopping and for seeing neighbors. Many say that Russo’s has a positive effect on Watertown property values. And I and many others fear that the loss of Russo’s would be a blow to the character of our city.