LETTER: A Resident’s Comments on Proposed Rezoning of Watertown Square

To the Editor:

I’ve been impressed by Manager George Proakis’ initiative, effort and community involvement process for the Watertown Square Area Redesign. In terms of the streetscape, it’s terrific that the manager is trying to create a plan that insists that our Square is first and foremost the center of our community, not just an intersection to drive through as quickly as possible. It is in terms of zoning that the draft plans have led to more disagreement. Unlike some municipalities, we are choosing to obey the new MBTA Communities law and join in the region-wide attempt to increase the supply of housing by changing the zoning in the Square. The need for more housing units at lower rents and/or purchase prices is clear.

Charles River Chamber’s Spring Event Focuses on the Need for Housing in the Region

The Charles River Regional Chamber announced it will hold its Spring Business Breakfast on June 7. The Chamber, which serves Watertown, Newton, Needham and Wellesley, provided the following information. Housing, our region’s competitive future, and a salute to an outstanding member of our business community are on the menu at this year’s Spring Business Breakfast, presented by Eastern Bank. Program Information

We’ll hear from the Commonwealth’s first Secretary of Housing and Livable Communities, Ed Augustus, the point person in the Healey-Driscoll Administration on efforts to drive efforts to increase housing production and lower housing costs across Massachusetts. We will be honoring Susan Paley who is retiring after leading The Village Bank’s community commitment efforts in support of all aspects of the region’s civic life, safety net, and cultural vitality for nearly two decades.

What to Expect at Next Watertown Square Meeting, Manager Will Also Discuss Zoning on Prior Day

The redesign of Watertown Square will be discussed on June 12. (Photo by City of Watertown)

The draft of the Watertown Square Area Plan will be discussed at a meeting on June 12, but prior to that City Manager George Proakis will delve into the topic of zoning during a live and interactive show on Watertown Cable. Watertown Square Meeting

The meeting focused on Watertown Square will take place on Wednesday, June 12 beginning at 6 p.m. It will take place at the Watertown Free Public Library in the Watertown Savings Bank Room. Present at the meeting will be both the City Council and the Planning Board, said City Council President Mark Sideris. He said it may be the first of multiple meetings on the Watertown Square Area Plan, which includes not only the redesign of the main intersection, but also where the City will allow housing to be built by right to meet the requirements of the MTBA Communities Law, as well as form-based zoning which will determine how future developments will look.

LETTER: A Chilly Reception From Housing Advocates

By Linda ScottWatertown Resident

Let’s go back to April 25, 2024, when I visited the April Watertown Democratic Town Committee Meeting. The Watertown Democratic Town Committee Meeting:

One of my public meeting stops was the Watertown Democratic Town Committee (WDTC) Meeting to see what they had on their minds. I noticed that Dan Pritchard, one of the four founders of Housing for All Watertown (HAW) was going to be speaking. I was interested. I want to thank the WDTC for being so welcoming to this “Independent” voter.

LETTER: Let’s Take More Time to Consider Watertown Housing Plan

By Linda ScottWatertown Resident

Lately, I’ve been attending public meetings, and I’ve been speaking with citizens about their thoughts and feelings about development plans in Watertown Square. The Watertown Square Plan and its Moving Parts:

As most of you know, in response to the State’s MBTA Communities Law, which requires Watertown to zone for 1701 new multifamily housing units, Watertown City Manager George Proakis and the Department of Community Development and Planning (DCDP) have been enthusiastically over-achieving. First, they proposed zoning for 6,320 new housing units instead of the State mandated 1701. They justified this momentous decision to more than triple the housing units by referring to a straw poll of 75 Watertown citizens and nonresidents who chose the 6,320 option. (See Democracy Dismantled One Poll and Survey at a Time, click here)

The choices that the City Manager and the DCDP gave the Watertown public for this vote:

6,320 housing units by right or

2,631 housing units by right

There was no option for 1,701 units – the number actually mandated by the MBTA zoning law.

LETTER: What Both Biotech Workers & High Schoolers Need — Housing

In my role as a founder of CoLAB — a non-profit organization that connects Watertown students and biotech companies — I have had the unique opportunity to connect with two distinct groups, biotech business leaders and local high school students. For as many differences as there are between them, both groups share a primary concern: the housing crisis. For business leaders, it’s becoming more and more difficult to afford the costs associated with the housing crisis. For high school students, they face a future of deep uncertainty. Will they be able to remain in the city they love?

OP-ED: As Housing Costs Push Younger Workers Out, Watertown Could Lead Battle to Deal with Crisis

Linda ScottThe Elan Union Market apartment building on Arsenal Street. By Mark Pickering

The bad news about the housing market in Massachusetts keeps piling in. “More 25- to 44-year-olds are leaving the state than any other groups,” concludes a new report. The top culprit: Housing costs are too high. The good news for Watertown: People from a range of incomes want to move here.

OP-ED: Watertown Square Plan — A Broader Perspective

By Linda ScottWatertown Resident

I was driving through Forest Hills recently and stopped to take a few pictures of new buildings. Here is the front of the property. As you can see, this yellow and gray building appears to be six stories. Also note that there are step backs and blocks of color to produce the “visual interest” that was mentioned at our meeting. Photo by Linda Scott

I drove up the small street in back of it, and here it borders a small one and two family neighborhood with a mix of one and two storied homes.