Late January 2015 Update

Dear Sustainable Watertown,

The moment you declare a set of ideas to be immune from criticism, satire, derision, or contempt, freedom of thought becomes impossible.
-Salmon Rushdie

I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.

If Liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.
-George Orwell

$10 (children under 12 free). Join us for breakfast, Dr Emmett Price III, Francois Clemmons, the Intergenerational Chorus, awards, and, always, inspiration. Hellenic Cultural Center, 25 Bigelow Street.

Click here for more information »

Mt Auburn Cemetery, 24 Cottage Street, Watertown. $15 to recycle tube TVs, $5 CRT monitor and hard drive wiping, Free for other electronics. Cash only.

Click here for more information »

If anyone would like a tube TV, 27", works well, please by tomorrow afternoon.


A second hotel on an Elm Street location behind Target. Meeting at Coolidge School Apartments, 319 Arlington Street. 7PM.
View the Site Plan here.
View the Drawing and article here

Please join in a discussion about the final form of the Design Guidelines and next steps in review and adoption. We hope to discover how Design Guidelines are translated into zoning code. And try to get a way to really conceptualize what development plans will be when built. Will Design Standards and Guidelines prevent mediocre development? How does the planning process allow local control of the galloping development coming to Watertown?

Click here for more information »

SATURDAY, JANUARY 24, 11-12:30. Coolidge Square Neighborhood Group STANDOUT in Coolidge Square.

Please join the group as they petition and distribute flyers opposing the proposed CVS development.

SATURDAY JANUARY 24, 1:30-3PM. The Concerned Citizens Group

CCG, will present ZONING BY DESIGN, a Local TedTalk film by Somerville's Director of Planning, GEORGE PROAKIS. Discussion will follow. Library. Sustainable Watertown is proud that CCG is a member of the Neighborhood Network.

View the film show in July here »


Your good sense and good will are much needed to support excellence in development. The PLANNING BOARD DENIED the petition of the developer of the proposed CVS in Coolidge Square. The developer proceded to the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) anyway, presented his unchanged building plans, and the community presented a petition of 300 signatures against and much discussion. The ZBA continued the case until JANUARY 28. Plan to attend.

Please consider supporting the Coolidge Square Neighborhood Group 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 Mt Auburn and Arlington Streets. It would be a chain department store with pharmacy at the 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. 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. Traffic volume in general and truck traffic for the neighbors are big problems. Will such a large project lead to other chain stores buying multiple properties? Those opposed would prefer a project there that fits the scale of the interesting retail scene that has a well-established sense of place. Will it diminish the small and independent businesses? Perhaps new zoning which would allow mixed use and experiment with limited parking for any residences would add value to the entire area while maintaining the values the community expressed in the creation of the Comprehensive Plan. An exploration of a suitable anchor would help in the future. January 28 it is simply an up, or down vote by the ZBA on the project as it is now presented.
It is interesting that in the original Pleasant Street Corridor District an aspect of the design guidelines speaks to this kind of development and new standards: Section 2 p.66 of the Zoning Code relating only to this Corridor says:
(2) Guidelines:
In general, proposals should seek to satisfy the following:
(A) Be complementary to and provide for a harmonious transition in scale and character between adjacent sites.
(B) Provide for high-density quality development consistent with the character of building types, streetscapes, and other community features traditionally found in densely settled areas of the Town or in the region.
(C) Maintain streetscape continuity with a strong building presence along the primary street edge.
(D) The size and detailing of buildings shall be pedestrian oriented and incorporate features to
add visual interest while reducing appearance of bulk or mass. Blank walls should be avoided.
(E) A distinct "sidewalk" presence with incorporation of elements such as planters, traditional
awnings, signage projecting from building fagade (blade signage), etc. to enhance the
pedestrian scale and interest of the street.
(F) Avoid prototypical, standardized brand identity-related architecture and signage for businesses with multiple locations (i.e.: retail "chain" stores and restaurants.)
• If appropriate for a section of Watertown, why not for all of Watertown? Do you think the current CVS proposal satisfies the core values Watertown citizens have expressed in community meetings? Does it preserve and increase the amenities of the town?

••To read the informative Petition from some East End neighbors and sign it, please click here.

Please drop off all 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 can be found here on Facebook.

Find the Planning Department Staff Report on CVS here »

View the site plan here

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.

Your comments to the Planning Department and the Zoning Board of Appeals are still needed before the ZBA meets Jan. 28 even if you are planning to attend. Relevant Zoning Code sections are found on the town website (Ed Note: we could not link them today). Article 1.0, Purpose of Zoning Ordinance, p. 8. And Article 5.09 Special Permit: Conditions for Approval, p. 89. There are four conditions: The specific site is an appropriate location for such a use, structure, or condition; The use as developed will not adversely affect the neighborhood; There will be no nuisance or serious hazard to vehicles or pedestrians; Adequate and appropriate facilities will be provided for the proper operation of the proposed use. They would be useful in your emails along with the Pleasant Street Corridor District wish list.

-George Bernard Shaw


The Town Council voted unanimously on the suggestion of Council President Mark Sideris to send the matter of a single use plastic bag ban to the Subcommittee on Rules and Ordinances. The committee is chaired by Councilor Ken Woodland and Aaron Dushku and Susan Falkoff are members.
Congratulations to Rethink Plastic! which has been learning and explaining about such bans in other Massachusetts cities and in towns and states across the nation and the world. Sustainable Watertown was a founding member of the group. Here'sanother reason why we need the ban.

The Pleasant Street Corridor District amendments were approved by the Planning Board and will be heard by the Town Council. Some members have issues with some of the amendments, others who live on Pleasant Street and have met with Councilor Woodland seem happy with them. A discussion of the issues will follow when we have a date for the Council hearing. The draft amendments are on the town website under zoning amendments.

FEBRUARY 11, PLANNING BOARD. The office development at 65 Grove Streetis scheduled to be heard in February. The proposal at 65 looks to be a creative, flexible, and modern renovation of an old brick building using lots of glass with the old brick. However, consider the very large 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 traffic on the property could possibly be redesigned to remove traffic from Crawford Street and the Arlington intersection perhaps in exchange for more parking in the garage. The project has been continued before; perhaps the new plans consider these issues.
••View the 65 Grove Street site plans here
Again, your comments are important BEFORE the hearing at the Planning Board. Please address comments to the Planning Department and members of the Planning and Zoning Boards via Don't forget to include your Town Councilors.

THE SECOND DESIGN STANDARDS AND GUIDELINES MEETING was eye-opening and inspirational for many. We appreciate the 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 and to Brandon Henry of Greystar who has said this has been a transformational experience for him which has reminded him why he went into this field originally. And thanks to their staffs and the staff of the Watertown Planning Department whose participation is invaluable.

Library, upstairs.
Come brainstorm with us about strategy and future prospects.

We need a townwide discussion on criteria for membership. But, if you don't apply, you don't get considered. Let's talk. Email or click here

Kudos to Congresswoman Katherine Clark who has been named Assistant Whip in the Democratic House Leadership.

CPR, First Aid, Healthcare Provider classes in Watertown. Please contact the Board of Health.

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

Thanks for all you do!

With best wishes for a creative & productive new year.

Sustainable Watertown

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