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.

OP-ED: The Watertown Square Area Zoning Proposal is Out — What’s Next?

A diagram of the proposed by-right housing zoning in Watertown Square to meet the MBTA Communities Law requirement. The by-right areas are outlined in a dark dashed line. (Courtesy of City of Watertown)

I’m filling out my “Very important Paper.” This is what I’m Considering. [EDITOR’s NOTE: The plans and ideas for Watertown Square presented at the April 6 meeting and discussed in this piece are conceptual, have not yet been approved, and if they are do not necessarily mean that they will become a reality]. By Linda ScottWatertown Resident

First, I’d like to thank City Manager George Proakis and his team for all of their efforts for the April 4th meeting.

Watertown Square Housing & Intersections Proposals Revealed

A large crowd listened to the presentation at the Watertown Square Area Plan Meeting on April 4 at 66 Galen St. (Photo by Rachel Kay)

The proposed design of Watertown Square will look similar to the current intersection, with one leg removed and larger open space. Designers also revealed a new plan to meet the MBTA Communities Law on Thursday, showing a plan with areas for by-right housing around Watertown Square, and south of the Charles River. The design team and City officials have gathered input from the public at previous meetings, City Manager George Proakis said, and there were strong agreement on some areas, such as that the Watertown Square intersection needed improvement and the downtown area has some nice historic architecture, but much of the area lacks character and is not friendly to shoppers and pedestrians. Other matters were more mixed.

LETTER: Local Group Encourages Pro-Housing Residents to Attend Upcoming Public Forum

(From Housing for All Watertown)

So many Watertown residents are frustrated by the housing shortage, squeezed by rising rents, and worried about the consequences of failing to meet our urgent housing needs. This week, you have a chance to meaningfully address the housing crisis in our city. Housing for All Watertown invites pro-housing residents to join us at the Watertown Square Area Plan public forum this Thursday, April 4th, 6:30 p.m. at 66 Galen St., to advocate for a plan that makes more new housing possible for everyone. Housing for All Watertown is an independent, grassroots group of residents seeking solutions to current housing challenges in order to improve the quality of life for current and future residents. We support all types of new housing to meet the many different needs of our diverse community, from new market-rate projects to public housing expansion.

City Manager: Next Watertown Square Meeting a Key One, Discusses How MBTA Communities Zoning Works

The Watertown Square Area Plan meeting on April 4 will not be the last meeting in the process, City Manager George Proakis told the City Council Tuesday, but it will be an important point in the redesign of the intersection and the City’s effort to meet the MBTA Law requirements. Proakis also explained what the zoning changes would and would not do. The next meeting in the Watertown Square Area Plan process will be held at 66 Galen Street on Thursday, April 4 at 6:30 p.m. Proakis said this will be the sixth meeting held by the City in the process and it will be a key one. “This particular meeting is important for us. We will be presenting one idea for where to move forward on streetscape, one on where to move forward on zoning,” Proakis said.

Options for Watertown Square Redesign Refined and Presented to the Public

Residents gave input about the ideas for redesigning Watertown Square during a meeting on Thursday night. (Photo by Charlie Breitrose)

Designers gave some glimpses of what Watertown’s center could look like if the City adopts a plan to redesign and redevelop the area during Thursday night’s Watertown Square Area Plan meeting. Two main options for reworking the roadways in the Square were explored, both of which would add more open space to the area, and showed retail kiosks on the Delta. The scenarios also looked at how Watertown could meet the requirements to allow more housing to meet the MBTA Communities Act. Buildings with as much as six stories of residential units were shown in the illustrations.