Riverside Neighborhood Group - Meeting to discuss 202-204 Arsenal St Development Proposal - Jan 15, 2014

The following is a list of the topics discussed at the meeting. There was a range of opinions on many of the topics. These notes will be provided to the Watertown Planning Department, as input to the community meeting with the developers scheduled for Thursday Feb. 6th, 7 pm, at the Watertown Library. In general, the group looks forward to hearing more about the traffic impacts, pedestrian paths, likely types of commercial tenants, and handling of trucks delivering to the market.

Public amenities:
· Hope for more attractive landscaping and less vehicle-centric design for the public area at the east entrance – to provide an attractive public gathering place for neighborhood residents and shoppers.

· How will the project design enhance the street-level experience, and encourage walking and biking?

· Would it be possible to provide pro bono or reduced rate space for a local nonprofit?

Landscaping, impervious surface and stormwater management:
· Fire lane – could pervious pavement be used, to improve stormwater management?

· This is a good opportunity for a green roof.

· Zoning requirements should be adjusted to reduce the number of required parking spaces.

Traffic impacts:
· Concerns about impacts of more vehicle traffic on surrounding intersections and at Watertown Square.

· Will significant traffic be diverted to North Beacon St.?

· General agreement that traffic impacts can be reduced through better public transit and by encouraging biking and walking. (See below.)

Encouraging bicycle use and walking:
· Generally welcome the plan to extend the bike path along Arsenal Street.

· It is important to provide good separation of bicycle vs. pedestrian traffic in the sidewalk design. Examples of good bicycle-and pedestrian-friendly design in European cities were noted.

· Need plentiful bike parking in the project.

Aesthetics:
· Landscaping that enhances the transition to the Birch Rd. and Franklin St. neighborhoods is critical

· General desire that high quality materials be used and desire for attractive design (finishes, windows)

Public transit:
· General agreement that Watertown needs improved public transit to accomodate this and other planned developments.

· Wide-ranging discussion included advocating for improved MBTA bus service, advocating for light rail service (preserve the rail right-of-way for this purpose?), discouraging cut-through traffic from turnpike drivers avoiding the Cambridge tolls (add a toll at Exit 17?).

· Shuttle-bus service for individual developments will help reduce traffic impacts, but this is not sufficient to meet the need for improved public transit.

· A more general study of public transit needs and options in Watertown is needed.

· It is hoped that the developer will support wider town efforts to address this issue.

Target populations:
· Welcome the reported plan to include some larger 3-bedroom units.

· Hope the commercial tenants will include small, independent businesses.

Other:
· How does this project relate to the goals being discussed in the Comprehensive Plan process?

· Should Watertown hire a marketing director to focus on attracting desirable businesses to Watertown?

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