I’ve lived in Watertown for 12 years. I like the atmosphere of a small community, close to Boston. In the spring I lived to play softball in the men’s league at Fillipello Park. In the fall of my life I watch my 8 year old daughter’s imagination run wild at the Watetown Children’s Theater at the Arsenal Center for the Arts.
The Arsenal, that long imposing brick facade where they made bombs for a century of war is now a centerpiece of what good planning can give to a town. That neighborhood center has a child care center, medical offices, low impact design businesses, Panera Bakery, the Arts Center, Boston Sports Club, and the Commander’s Mansion where I’ve attended concerts of Revels music. This is an outstanding example of mixed use, innovative, culturally enhancing development at a human scale - that really adds character to the community.
Walmart wants to take 7.8 acres, six football fields of property and fill it with 90,000 square feet of Big Box adjacent to some of the nicest neighbohoods in town.
Impact to the neighborhood:
• incredible traffic - 40% of all cars coming from outside of town will enter from Watertown Square.
• estimated additional 3,000 cars a day
• undermine the identity of the surrounding neighborhoods with huge scale development
• homes will lose property value over time.
• less property taxes collected
Effect on locally owned business:
Why shop at Russo’s when it 20% cheaper at Walmart? We’ve got bike shops, Farinas, Ben Franklin, and the independent shops already in the mall. We’ve alredy got a Target and Best Buy and Shaws and Stop and Shop. Everything Walmart offers we already have. Walmart kills off competition and then we’re left with: WALMART period.
• outsourced merchandise
• part-time minimum wage employees who can’t unionize. Who aren’t covered by any Walmart health insurance and so must go to Mass Health, another drain on government resources.
• Walmart discriminates against women in their corporate hiring.
• At some Walmart stores in Massachusetts guns and ammunition are sold.
I am running for Town Councilor at Large because I feel that I have to. John Donohue seems to support Walmart. When I asked him directly if he did he said “ I support the right economic development for this property” I said, “We all support that, what about this proposal, Walmart? He said, “ I support the right economic development for ths property.” I looked at him straight on and replied. “That’s not good enough!” I called Steve Corbett on Tuesday. He supports Walmart without reservation. I called Angie Kounelis, my own district councilor, she’s leaning toward yes on Walmart, but won’t really commit until it’s “on the table”. Other Councilors refuse to take a stand. See the Tab article on this:
This is just not good enough and that’s why I’m running. On an issue as important as this one, a town councilor should represent the voice of the people and therefore should take a clear position. When the town is divided on an issue, it will be reflected in the difference of each councilor's stand, and this will enable a discussion that furthers the democratic process. Not taking a stand means avoiding the debate.
What do I think should happen at this property site? This summer the Town Council developed a Strategic Framework for Economic Development that provides an answer. The Plan suggests a mix of infomation technology, design, and engineering firms. Doble Engineering already has a facility nearby. Seven Cycles builds high tech bikes, as well. Social service agencies have offices here. The Plan suggests a redesigned streetscape with wide sidewalks, shade trees and a bike path (which is already partially constructed). I support this Plan. It makes sense for this neighborhood. It builds on what is good that is already happening here and it doesn’t create a duplication of retail services that will primarily appeal to traffic outside our town. This plan, written in August while Walmart was doing its own planning to move quickly makes a very ominous prediciton as it turns out:
“With large available sites, however, the area is vulnerable to expansion by automotive companies and encroachment by new big box retail outlets. This type of development would tip the character of the corridor away from its potential as a cohesive innovation district - as represented by the start-up companies at the Arsenal on the Charles - to a regional shopping and automotive destination..”
I’d like to go out to see a movie IN WATERTOWN
I’d like to go browse and buy a book IN WATERTOWN
I’d like to listen to some great music, maybe even dance a bit IN WATERTOWN
I teach at Tufts and when I wander over to Davis Square at night there a buzz of activity. Sure Tufts is a big reason for this. But at Davis there is the Somerville Theater, Red Bones, Johnny D’s. After 10 PM when the Deluxe Town Diner closes, what have we got here. Almost nothing.
How can we win?
There are four candidates on the ballot for Councilors-at-Large (they represent the entire town, not just one district). Susan Falkoff, Tony Palomba, John Donohue and Steve Corbett. Two of these four, Donohue and Corbett are either leaning for Walmart (Donohue) or have declared support for Walmart (Corbett). The other district councilors are split as well. But I have the best chance of making the council if you vote just three of the at-Large candidates.
Vote for only those who are committed to Stop Walmart and write-in Mike Mandel, 124 Maplewood Street (having the street address makes the write-in more difficult to challenge). “Stop Walmart: Vote for 3”