Without...largeness of conception and breadth of vision...and without the constant hand and touch of Art upon every detail, a beautiful city can never be built. Otto Wagner 1912
Dear Sustainable Watertown and Neighborhood Networkers,
The news is the vote by the Town Council to pay for an architect/planner consultant who will look at the corridors and squares containing underutilized space that have been marked for transformation by the Strategic Framework and our planners. Under the leadership of Council President Mark Sideris with the help of Director of Community Planning and Development Steve Magoon, the scope of work for this architect/planner has been agreed to in principle. The action was taken in response to Moratorium petitions signed by hundreds requesting some kind of overall look at the galloping development here. Piecemeal approval of disparate projects, separate traffic studies, old fashioned parking requirements, etc are not going to give us great development that respects adjacent properties and the qualities of Watertown that the public wishes to maintain and improve. The Comprehensive Plan, when ready, will reflect the hopes of the public and the economic development detailed by consultants and the Planning Department. Sustainable Watertown and those who signed the petitions hope for some kind ofintegrated approach that will lead us to excellence in development and future-thinking changes in the zoning code. Further discussions with the Town Council on the scope of work will be held because integration of infrastructure and transition zones seem to be major factors in quality development. Please read the powerful excerpt at the end that could stand as a manifesto for great development in a town like Watertown.
TONIGHT, SEPTEMBER 15, MEETING WITH THE DEVELOPER OF THE PIROLLI PROPERTY, IRVING AND ARSENAL STREETS. Please look over the plans on the town website. Still having trouble sending links, so you will have to go toci.watertown.ma/documentcenterii.asp, then find Community Development and Planning, then Cases, then Irving and Arsenal Sts, then wait and plans will come up. It takes a long time to open, but they are there. The Developers will present the plans tonight for your consideration. The Goldstar/Elan developers at Pirolli have agreed to be "A DEMONSTRATION PROJECT FOR THE DESIGN STANDARDS TO BE DEVELOPED BY THE TOWN." Mr Magoon has stated that feedback from the community meeting with the developer will help inform the design standard discussion [with the new architect/planner, the Planning Dept, and the community and Council we presume]. "As we develop our design standards, we will be able to use this property as a test case to see how the standards would play out." We look forward to working with the town on this new project. Your opinions will be important, so take a look at the plans. POLICE STATION COMMUNITY ROOM, MAIN STREET. 7-9. It would be a good time to plan meetings of your neighborhood groups to discuss this and the other developments which you will hear about below.
WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 17, PHASE II VICTORY FIELD DISCUSSION WITH THE RECREATION DEPARTMENT COMMITTEE. LIBRARY. 7-9PM,
Second presentation by the development committee. Your presence and voices are needed. Plans are on line for you to see for a new track, new lighting, new courts- one to be a hockey and basketball court/rink, more parking, and artificial turf in the oval, and more. This is in addition to the 180,000 sq ft of artificial turf from Phase I which privately raised only a small percentage of the amount borrowed. Town financing is clearly a concern. Community participation in the development process was sorely missed and was suggested by residents at the last presentation. Scheduling for town teams is difficult for the artificial turf fields, but neighbors are confident that solutions could be found to satisfy teams and the neighborhood quality of Victory Field with participation of the community.
WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 17, ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS, COUNCIL CHAMBERS 7-9:30. The 21 NORTH BEACON STREET property, currently the home of Sullivan Tire, has asked for permission to become a used car sales and maintenance area for Volkswagen which has a nearby building. The town Planning Department Staff Report has recommended approval, and the owner has talked about a 20 year lease, but since this usage does not at all conform to the expectations of the Comprehensive Plan vision for Watertown Square and at least two councilors, Corbett and Lenk, have opposed it because the vision for a walkable destination development has not been met, your input is needed. The case has been continued until October 22 because not all members who voted at the last meeting will be present this month to complete the discussion. More information will be sent out as we get it. What we have heard is that Sullivan Tire would like to remain at that location. Why end the chance of development of that property and area for twenty years with a use not very different from what is there now?
There will be a vote on reappointment of the chair and clerk of the ZBA. Be there, or send your thoughts to the ZBA and your councilors.
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 21 CLIMATE MARCH, NYC.
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 21 3PM, CELEBRATION OF THE TAPESTRY OF CULTURES MURAL, BAPTIST WAY AND MT AUBURN STREET. MEET THE ARTISTS FROM WATERTOWN HIGH SCHOOL AND ENJOY OUR SECOND MAJOR PUBLIC ART MURAL. Refreshments, music. Take a chair and join the fun.
MONDAY SEPTEMBER 22, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT SUBCOMMITTEE AND PLANNING BOARD JOINT MEETING TO DISCUSS THE DETAILS of the COMPREHENSIVE PLAN. 7-9. Lower Meeting Room. Next section will be discussed October 9.
SEPTEMBER 24, 7-9, COMMUNITY MEETING WITH DEVELOPER OF 65 GROVE STREET, Coolidge Apartment Community Room. Another development redesign for office space which uses the existing brick and adds lots of glass for a modern look. Cressett would like to add a parking garage behind the building and a parking entrance totaling more than the number of required parking spaces. Please find the plans on line and attend this important meeting. Hearing the presentation will help you formulate questions and thoughts for this meeting and for conversations with your councilors and your neighborhood groups. If you cannot attend, please be assured that all attempts will be made for you and your group to find out about the plans and be heard. Write to us at email@example.com://www.watertown-ma.gov/DocumentCenter/View/15604
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 27, 10-4 FAIRE ON THE SQUARE, SALTONSTALL PARK, MAIN STREET. 15th Anniversary of the Faire.
TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 30 PUBLIC SAFETY MEETING ABOUT LIQUOR LICENSES. TOWN HALL, 7-9PM.
The standards we have to work with should only be used as a baseline and not as a device to prevent excellence from being created. Above all, even at the risk of being perceived as doctrinaire, we must take a formal stand against the adoption of rules that perpetuate mediocre development outcomes. There must be a willingness to test standards in relation to their impact on the form of communities and place making.
A key goal of any planning effort is to create places that are sustainable and well-designed, places where optimal quality and efficiency in the provision and arrangement of urban amenities and services are attained. However, place making today stands in poor relationship to civic processes and urban design. It has been crowded into a bureaucratic task of rule writing, standards formation, and code enforcement. Such roles rob the urban planning profession of its central goal: to foster democratic civic processes and outcomes whereby communities retain their local character, make the most of the existing conditions of the built and natural environment, and create developments that are sensitive and sensible to their immediate surroundings. Eran Ben-Joseph The Code of the City: Standards and the Hidden Language of Place Making, 2005.
Send us your thoughts.
We hope that you are enjoying this gorgeous weather and change of seasons, but will make time to participate in the major development meetings scheduled for this month. As always, if you cannot attend, please look at the plans, write to us for information, convene your neighborhood groups, and send emails, or call your Councilors and Board members.
Again, we are trying to update the lists, so bear with us as we slowly make headway. Could you volunteer to help? There are many ideas for projects that need you!
Thanks for all you do,