Views from a Watertown Resident and Business Owner:

The prospect of Walmart in Watertown is disturbing on many levels. I appreciate the need for low-priced goods, but the price tag for those exceeds the so-called savings the consumers might experience. Watertown is STILL a walkable community. My office used to be on Mt. Auburn Street and I was constantly amazed at the number of pedestrians on the street (and Mt. Auburn Street itself is not particularly pedestrian-friendly). The best elements of a walkable community can be found in Watertown's smaller commercial areas (Coolidge Square, Watertown Square to name a few) and its very local neighborhood centers.

The spectre of Walmart that offers virtually everything that each of these smaller retail establishments offer will do serious harm to their sustainability as businesses.
Further, Walmarts by their very nature are not pedestrian-friendly. Large parking lots, entrances located far from the street edge and public transportation, huge frontages without the rich mix of uses necessary for a good pedestrian environment.

Finally, the huge investment in infrastructure improvements necessary to get these behemoth establishments going are frightening. Proposed new access will do irreparable harm to residential neighborhoods and storm water runoff from the immense paving areas is a major issue in that low-lying part of town which already has issues with storms. (Just so you know, most big box establishments require an equal amount of land area for parking and for truck loading as they do for the store itself; a 80,000 sf store, for example, also needs about 80,000 sf for parking and and additional 80,000 sf for the truck loading area. That would be 240,000 sf of land, not counting access improvements, storm water detention basins, requisite buffer areas which are all similarly large).
In light of the present economy, the temptation to improve the Town's tax base is alluring, I know, but given the hidden costs to the Town, I urge you to fight this proposal.


Randall Imai, homeowner
17 Dartmouth Street
Watertown, MA
and Principal at
Imai Keller Moore Architects
70 Phillips Street
Watertown, MA

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