Watertown’s three-day design charrette will tackle a big, tangled set of issues known as Watertown Square. The consultants hired by the City of Watertown have invited the public to come discuss what hey would like to see changed in the Square, and beyond, what they want to keep, and at the end of the three days will present some ideas for what the new square will look like. Hundreds of people showed up at the former Sasaki building, 64 Pleasant St., for the opening meeting Tuesday night. The Design Charrette continues there Nov. 29 and 30.
During the Charles River Regional Chamber’s annual Fall Business Breakfast, the Chamber laid out the areas of focus for the next five years, and housing came to the forefront. During the event, held at the Boston Marriott Newton, John Rufo, Chair of the Chamber’s Board of Directors, said that much has changed since the organization last put together a strategic plan in 2019. The latest plan has five areas of focus: transportation; childcare for the workforce; climate change; diversity, equity and inclusion; and housing. Creating more housing in the area is key, Rufo said. “I think about people who don’t have security in housing, and don’t have safety in housing,” Rufo said.
The City of Watertown released details of the Watertown Square Area Design Charrette, and what times the public can come and participate over the three days. The City sent out the following information:
We are excited to share this invitation to attend one or more of the working group sessions at the Watertown Square Area Design Charrette on November 29 and 30, 2023. Each session will focus on a key issue in developing a Watertown Square Area Plan; these sessions are in addition to the drop-in opportunities and general meetings scheduled during the three-day charrette. All working group sessions will be held on the 2nd floor at 64 Pleasant Street.
A charrette is a collaborative planning process during which an interdisciplinary team of planners, designers, transportation experts, city officials, residents, business owners, other interested people, and most importantly you, work together to create a shared design vision of a particular area.
The charrette will start Tuesday evening, November 28, 2023 (6:30pm – 8:30pm), with an existing conditions analysis, feedback from the Kitchen Table Conversations (KTCs), and a summary of results from the Polis survey (you can participate in the Polis at https://pol.is/6vbuxzxrff through November 17, 2023).On November 29 and 30, 2023 (during the morning and afternoon), the project team and City staff will invite input from the community and interested groups through the working group meetings, as the team sketches options for Watertown Square’s challenges. On the second evening, there is an “interim progress drop-in session” for members of the public to see and informally discuss the day’s work. During the final evening (November 30), the consultant team will present scenarios that will inform the next phase of our project and vision of Watertown Square.
The following announcement was provided by the City of Watertown:
Join us for an exciting, three-day design charrette with the project team as we sketch through alternative visions for the redesign of the Watertown Square area, at 64 Pleasant St. (same location as our Oct. 17 project kickoff). A charrette is a collaborative planning process during which an interdisciplinary team of planners, designers, transportation experts, city officials, residents, business owners, other interested people, and most importantly you, work together to create a shared design vision of a particular area. The goal of the process is to capture the vision, values, and ideas of the community.
The City of Watertown has released a survey about Watertown Square for residents and people working and doing business in town. Watertown recently launched the planning effort to redesign Watertown Square and beyond, including the roadways, transportation, the pedestrian experience, the business districts, open space and recreation, arts and culture, and the environment. City officials and the consultants working on the redesign want to know about what people think about the present and future of Watertown Square. “Your responses to this survey will help define the focus and key issues for the planning process,” the survey reads. Take the survey by clicking here.
Urban designer Jeff Speck spoke about making Watertown more walkable in during the Watertown Square Plan kickoff meeting. (Photo by Charlie Breitrose)
Hundreds of people packed a room to find out about plans for the future of Watertown Square. They saw a lot of transformations of downtowns around the United States and in other countries, but both City officials and members of the planning team gave a message that it is up to you, the public, to decide what Watertown’s center looks and feels like. Many have been looking forward to the chance to improve how the Watertown Square intersection operates traffic-wise, and make it a destination for shoppers, diners and others, said City Council President Mark Sideris. “This is an important time for us.
The effort to transform Watertown Square into a more thriving area where people walk, bike and spend time will start on Oct. 17 with a kick-off event. In late November, there will be a three day design charrette and leading up to that event a series of Kitchen Table Conversations will be held where neighbors and friends can talk about what qualities they would like to see the new Watertown Square. The following announcement was sent out by the City of Watertown:
The City of Watertown has embarked on an ambitious plan for Watertown Square that will look at all physical and human-centered aspects of the study area, with a special emphasis on the configuration and design characteristics of the public realm — including streets, sidewalks, and open spaces — as well as the buildings that define and activate it. The plan is intended to create the framework for a Watertown Square with lively public spaces, street designs that promote walking and biking, thriving businesses, shared public-private open spaces that are activated and expanded, and enhanced access to the Charles River.