December 2014 Update

Only local conditions and physical context should provide the threshold for the formulation of standards and codes. Regulations should be place-based, emphasize details, and be buttressed by public approval. As more communities wrestle with problems due to uncontrolled growth, environmental pollution, and failures of the existing infrastructure, they are likely to take a stronger interest in their local power. Thus the possibility for communities to establish their own initiatives for localized place-based standards can be realized. .....[I]f regulations are too inflexible to allow for innovation, then perhaps we must work to see that they are changed. Above all, planners and designers must take formal stands against the adoption of rules that perpetuate mediocre development outcomes. There should be a willingness to test standards, not only in relation to preventing harm or preserving property value, but in relation to their impact on the physical form of communities. ....[T]hough standards will continue to exert their influence on the shaping of our towns and cities, we must not allow them to prevent excellence and innovation in our quest for better places.
Eran Ben-Joseph, The Code of the City: Standards and the Hidden Language of Place Making, 2005, p.xxi.

Dear Sustainable Watertown,

THE SECOND DESIGN STANDARDS AND GUIDELINES MEETING was eye-opening and inspirational for many. We look forward to a creative and productive process with the design of Greystar at the Pirolli site and the development of design standards from which to support excellence in development for the new growth in Watertown. Thank you to consultant and architect planner, David Gamble who lives in Watertown.

Your good sense and good will are much needed to support excellence in development in this holiday season. The Pleasant Street Corridor Districtdiscussion is postponed until the January Planning Board meeting. Your comments to the Planning Department and the Planning Board are still needed and welcome on these development issues, particularly the following:
This Wednesday, December 10 the CVS proposal will go before the Planning Board. Please consider supporting neighbors and members of Sustainable Watertown who are opposed to the present design. The crux of the problem is the outsized big box-type CVS at the Arlington Street end of the lively and successful Coolidge Square shopping district with it's local, independent and small businesses. The scale of the CVS is mismatched to the diverse and walkable area we now treasure. Those zoning principles about which we have written, Frontage Limitation and Transparency, have been overlooked in the plan. The proposed CVS would wrap around the corner from the Mt Auburn Grill replacing the brick office, gas station and the Elks taking more than a fair share of street frontage. And, 20% of the windows will be covered with the typical advertising of CVS stores that permits display and shelving for products inside. It is a dead streetscape which could be vibrant with a variety of smaller retail shops utilizing the excess frontage which CVSs usually cover over. We would like to encourage shoppers to return to a unique and interesting retail scene scaled to match the existing experience with a well-established sense of place.

••If you would like to read the informative Petition of some East End neighborsand sign it please go to: Please drop offall signatures at Doug & Stephanie Orifice's, 238 Arlington Street before the Wednesday meeting.
••An excellent letter on the subject (and the Pleasant Street Corridor District as well) from Councilor Aaron Dushku is at:
••The Planning Department Staff Report on CVS is at:
••The site plan:
••East End neighbors surveyed people about how they use Coolidge Square and made recommendations: Janet Jameson and Deborah Peterson wrote about the need to reduce the negative impact of a corporate chain store in a village environment; Coolidge Square is valued as a village center and it seems important to preserve and enhance its village qualities as a Watertown asset; There is a need for traffic intervention beyond those sited in the traffic study and for pedestrian infrastructure; There is unmet need for restaurants and a variety of retail specialty shops, eg ice cream, book, gift, craft stores.
The office development at 65 Grove Street is also scheduled to be heard Wednesday at the Planning Board. The proposal at 65 looks to be a creative, flexible, and modern renovation of an old brick building. However, consider the very large tarmac outdoor parking despite a garage with more spaces than are required. Perhaps, instead of about 50 spaces on an impervious surface in the courtyard, visitors could park inside and enter the office building via a gorgeous green park that could be enjoyed by employees and residents alike. It could be a green amenity to attract tenants and neighbors with only a few visitors allowed to park beside the building. When and if there is a need for more parking, the numbers could be discussed by the Planning Department.
••The 65 Grove Street site plans may be viewed at:
Again, your comments are important BEFORE the hearing at the Planning Board. Please address comments to the Planning Department and Planning Board c/o Please slao send a copy

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 9, TOWN COUNCIL MEETING. 7:15. TOWN COUNCIL CHAMBERS. The agenda will include report about the social services position and how the year went.

1) CVS at Mt Auburn and Arlington Streets at the edge of Coolidge Square.
2) Redesign of a building at 65 Grove Street for offices.
See above for action items and links to plans and comments. Send your comments to

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 11, HISTORICAL COMMISSION, 7PM Lower Hearing Room. On the docket are discussions of house demolitions to increase the number of housing units and inviting a Somerville planner to talk about measuring and preserving neighborhood character.

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 17, ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS. 7-9PM. TOWN HALL. Please check the website for agenda next week. Items will depend on the Planning Board decisions this week.

Sustainable Watertown would like to stimulate more discussion about development issues among our supporters in time to influence the planning and zoning process. We are going to start a FACEBOOK PAGE. Would you like tolearn more about planning and zoning concepts? Would you like to discover andexchange information about some of the new ideas about traffic and parking, mixed use developments, artist live-work spaces, public art, streetscapes, etc, etc?When we are on line we'll let you know and hope that you will LIKE us so that you'll get breaking news and be able to join the conversation. Any other ideas?

Note: We are still trying to update the lists and learn the finer points of MailChimp, so bear with us as we slowly make headway. Could you volunteer to help? There are many other ideas for special projects that need you!

~~Come brainstorm with us about Sustainable Watertown and future prospects the last Monday of each month. Next meeting January 26, 7-8:30 PM. Library.
~~Now would be a good time to pick a date for neighborhood groups to meet in January. Mention it when you see your neighbors at the holidays.

Please consider a donation, large, or small, to the WATERTOWN FOOD PANTRY before the holidays. WFP, 31 Marshall Street, or drop off a check at the Senior Center.

Thanks for all you do,
with best wishes for happy holidays and a creative and productive new year.
Sustainable Watertown

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