LETTER: Is it Too Late to Save Adult Medical Rehab Center?

At 51 Water St., just across the river from downtown Watertown, several local services have been available to the Watertown community, including a large adult day care service and, notably, the Community Rehab Care group. (For orientation, 51 Water St. is the area facing Nonantum Road, behind the bus turn-around and near the MBTA lots.)

Community Rehab Care provides (in their own words): “community-based outpatient rehabilitation and support services to adults and children with neurologic, musculoskeletal, or orthopedic injuries or illnesses.” That covers everyone from children to adults to elderly, who must deal with anything from serious car, sports, or other accidents, to strokes, brain-surgery, post-cancer or post-Covid problems — and much else. As I know from personal experience, the professionals there are dedicated, very busy, and relatively convenient for Watertown residents who need their help. But very unfortunately, the part about convenience is about to change, quite a bit. Up to this past year, relatively easy access to 51 Water St. was possible, though not without a quirk or two having to do with traffic and lane closures on Galen and blockage on Water St.

Neighbors Concerned About Size of Proposed, Noise & Traffic from Project at Cannistraro Site

A rendering of the proposed life science project at former Cannistraro property on Pleasant Street, Rosedale Road, and Acton Street. (Courtesy of Broder)

Developers heard from dozens of residents who showed up Monday night for an in-person community meeting about the project proposed for the former Cannistraro site, pro and against. Many with concerns lived in the residential neighborhood across the street, who fear they will be negatively impacted by the size of, and noise and traffic from the life science project. The project includes parcels on Pleasant Street, Rosedale Road and Acton Street. The proposal calls for a four-story, 148,0000-sq.-ft.

LETTER: Noise a Concern for Proposed Westside Project

A rendering of the proposed life science project at former Cannistraro property on Pleasant Street, Rosedale Road, and Acton Street. (Courtesy of Broder)

By Linda ScottWatertown Resident

“The hurrier I go, the behinder I get!” This quote is often ascribed to Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice in Wonderland and it was brought to mind after I attended the Broder Developers Meeting (the old Cannistraro building), last night. Watertown News will, I’m sure, have a very complete summary of this event. Just a few personal takeaways:

Although it was outside in that awful heat and humidity and in a decent outside venue that was practically hidden from the street (one attendee got numerous texts from people who were trying to attend and couldn’t find the place, and another attendee stood out in the parking lot in an attempt to send people in the right direction), it was well attended. I counted over 50 people.It lasted well past 8:00, in fact until after dark.

LETTER: Thoughts on Citizens Petitions & Developer’s Plans for the Cannistraro Site

By Linda ScottWatertown Resident

Question: If a dozen equals twelve and a peck equals two dry gallons, what does a “some” equal? When referring to the 600 plus citizens who signed the two citizen’s petitions calling for zoning changes (zoning relief, if you will), this group is many times referred to as “some people.”

It sure didn’t feel like “some” as we went door to door and stood outside in good and bad weather speaking with fellow citizens about their thoughts on Watertown’s current development. It also didn’t feel like “some” to Councilor Palomba who said at the July 11th City Council meeting: “Those names really demonstrate a breadth across the city…” and included names of people “who do not live in areas adjacent to development.”

As Joe Levendusky said, 600 people is a lot of people that are showing dissatisfaction. To quote Joe when referring to the numbers who want change, “I subscribe to the tip of the iceberg.” Now let’s quote Councilor Gardner, who is the only councilor who chose not to say a word at the July 11th City Council meeting, but had plenty to say in her newsletter:

“The Council acknowledged that the petitions signal that some residents have serious concerns about the scale of buildings when they abut single and two-family housing or are in the Central Business District. I also often hear concerns about the need for more housing (especially workforce and affordable housing), greater density to create that housing, and development that supports transportation by means other than single use vehicles.”

There’s that “some” word again … and that “housing” word thrown in for good measure, both implying that the 600 voters who signed the petitions are an insignificant number and that their calling for zoning changes somehow is at odds with providing housing for our citizens.

Council Rejects 2 Resident Petitions, Ideas Remain Alive in Zoning Discussions

Watertown City Hall

The City Council did not pass two citizen petitions seeking to change Watertown’s zoning rules, but Councilors said they heard the frustration expressed by the supporters and signers and said they support many of the ideas contained in the petitions. The first petition called for reducing the floor area ratio (FAR) allowed for new buildings in the Watertown Square area, while the second called for more protections for residential neighborhoods located next to areas where large commercial or residential projects could be built.

While the Council rejected the petitions — the first not going to a vote after receiving no second, and the second unanimously voted against — City Council President Mark Sideris said he has heard the signers of the petitions concerns. “I want to take a moment to thank the 600 people who signed the petitions because I think there is some frustration — and we noticed that this evening — with the process. I think we can always do a better job with process, and I think the Manager’s FY24 budget had proposed additional ways that we can communicate with the citizens and we approved that, ” Sideris said. “There is clearly a sense of frustration and I am not sure that any actions that we are going to take are going to satisfy those frustrations until, as somebody pointed out, that we come together and talk about things comprehensively.” 

Petition 1: Watertown Square Building Size

The Council heard from people supporting and opposing the petitions.

LETTER: A Big Week for Watertown Politics & Development

By Linda ScottWatertown Resident

This week is a kind of a big deal in Watertown politics. I know. It’s summer, and to borrow a phrase, it’s stinkin’ hot and humid. Who can think straight in this environment? My body has been fighting my mind for about a week now, and I apologize to all of my friends who’ve heard very little from me lately.

LETTER: City Should Listen to Residents Voices About Development

Submitted by Linda Scott, Watertown Resident

Information lodged in mythical/moving spaces …Extremely long surveys with no obvious “save” function …Sticky notes rather than conversation …Underplaying or omitting what residents are actually saying in government reports …Information “hidden” in plain sight …Meeting notes for City meetings not updated or correct … These are all things that stymie public participation, and yet residents persisted! On March 9, 2023, a group of over 100 Watertown residents (according to the Comprehensive Plan consultants) came out (about 80 in person and 20 or more on zoom) to attempt to get their voices heard on the Comprehensive Plan … again. We had the usual run of sticky notes on poster boards, but at one point, when residents had obediently filled in their “stickies,” one brave citizen stood up and insisted that we, as a group, have a chance to speak. There is a recording of that conversation that is frustratingly garbled beyond recognition … another roadblock to understanding.

Citizen Petition Calling for Buffers Between Developments and Residential Zones Submitted to Council

A photo of the petition sent to the City Council on April 27. Another citizens’ petition has been submitted to the City Council seeking to change zoning rules. This one seeks to reduce the impact of developments on abutting residential districts. The petition calls for “discretionary” transitions for new developments next to residential zones, which could include considerations for height, setbacks, and screening, among other things. It was signed by 439 people and submitted to the City Clerk on April 27.