A New Park May be in Watertown's Future

Town residents frequent Whitney Hill, but it is not officially part of Watertown's park system.

[Updated on Aug. 24 at 1:55 p.m.]

Watertown residents may soon have a new park to enjoy. 

Town Councilor Susan Falkoff let out a "Woo-hoo!" when Town Council President announced that the council would have a hearing to explore turning Whitney Hill into a town park at last week's Town Council Meeting. . 

"I've been working since I was on the Conservation Commission to make it a town park," said Falkoff, who is in her third term as an at-large councilor.

Whitney Hill is the forested land above Victory Field and the Public Works Facility. The land is owned by the town, said Conservation Agent Chris Hayward, and the Conservation Commission is looking at protecting it in perpetuity. 

It has a small network of paths blazed by walkers. There are entrances of Marion Road and where Oliver and Marshall streets come together on the eastside of the area, and on Marlboro Terrace on the westside. 

Falkoff said she recently strolled through Whitney Hill, and was surprised to see how well the paths are maintained and that someone had put up a sign saying "Whitney Hill" with a trail map.

Sideris said the hearing on Whitney Hill will be scheduled during one of the council's meetings in September.

Joseph Flack Weiler August 20, 2012 at 11:57 AM
Janice Myler August 20, 2012 at 02:42 PM
We have great cell reception in Watertown due to the number of cell towers already in and around Watertown. If there were a need for one, there are plenty of urban areas in Watertown that are more suitable than "Conservation Land."
Charlie Breitrose (Editor) August 20, 2012 at 02:54 PM
No cell towers planned, from what I hear, but the DPW is looking at putting up a radio tower on its property, just below Whitney Hill.
K Coyne August 20, 2012 at 03:16 PM
The DPW already has a radio tower at the back of it's facility. Are you talkinga about a new radio tower or a cell tower? Would the DPW be building back more into Whitney Hill? On the zoning map Whitney Hill only is comprised of land behind Victory field while most of the hill is actually past that behind the DPW and residential homes. What would the park consist of?
Charlie Breitrose (Editor) August 20, 2012 at 03:29 PM
They want a new radio tower, a taller one. http://patch.com/A-kXPP It would improve radio communication for DPW, Police and Fire. I believe you are right, the Whitney Hill behind the DPW and a bit of Victory Field.
James August 21, 2012 at 04:03 PM
What about parking ? Do they plan to cut down trees ? What's wrong with the hill the way it is now ? Why doesn't the TC clean up the Charles River banks, you cannot see the river when walking along the paths !!!
Charlie Breitrose (Editor) August 21, 2012 at 04:11 PM
James, The council has not talked about what they would do or change at Whitney Hill (if anything). I suspect they will talk about that more in September. You have a good point about the Charles, and the town is actually working on that. The land is owned by the state (the Dept. of Conservation and Recreation). They hope to get money to improve the area from the Square to the Watertown Yacht Club. See more here. http://patch.com/A-sw55
James August 21, 2012 at 05:55 PM
Charlie, thanks for the reply. I hope the Charles clean up, if approved, can start from the Watertown pool.
BD August 22, 2012 at 04:17 AM
I love the fact that the opening comments of this article are that "Watertown residents may soon have a new park to enjoy".??? Seriously, anyone from Watertown knows that has been our backyard forever. Folks from town created the trails that Ms. Falkoff "recently strolled" in the "Vic Woods" prior to this being deemed Whitney Hill. We all sleeded down the hill into left field, walked the paths with friends, and laided way to the pathways so creativly labeld which I do still enjoy. I am tired of reading of people talking of cellular towers (which i agree are not needed reception is fine in town) but more importantly DPW/Police/fire communications. I for one dont care if they need it to be 300' Critics will be the first one to complain when the police and fire do not respond in a timely manner. I read the paper and properties adjacent to Ms. Falkoffs neighborhood are listed as the "desired", "coveted" Whitney Hill area of Watertown. Yes it is, hense the dollar value of the property and the "Woo-Hoo" upon the recent counsil discussion of this becoming an official park. I have been a Marshall Street resident for Forty years and enjoy the Vic Wood's very much. Being deemed a park does this create revenue? and or cost for the town to now maintain? Regulations? Further goverment is now getting involved in what has been perfectly left alone for as long as I can remember.
Elodia Thomas August 24, 2012 at 09:31 PM
As I understand it, this is conservation land. Where is the TC going with this? Leave this tiny bit of nature alone. As others suggested clean up the Charles River bank and pathways. Continue to fix the potholed streets And please tackle the sidewalk issue. Lived here since 1975: no sidewalk, no curb, and a storm drain that is deteriorating year by year.
Charlie Breitrose (Editor) August 24, 2012 at 09:40 PM
I spoke to Conservation Agent Chris Hayward, and he said that they are trying to protect the land forever. He said No towers, no developments on Whitney Hill. I don't know if the Town Council has plans to do much if anything to the land. It doesn't sound like it will cost the town money.
Joseph Flack Weiler August 25, 2012 at 12:25 AM
We have been Property Tax payers in Watertown for 36 years. We strongly feel that a parks enhance the livability of Watertown and Whitney Hill would be a good start. Hopefully Watertown is not in a pre-Olmsted period of time and can understand the value of open, undeveloped space. More cell towers do not cut it for us. It will be interesting if this comes to a vote.
Linda Cocca August 29, 2012 at 11:58 PM
As a naturalist for a Massachusetts conservation organization and a 40 year resident of Marion Road., I think Whitney Hill is perfect just the way it is! Yes, it should be protected from cell towers or anything else that might alter it, but it should not be manicured into a park. Watertown has so little actual "open space", Whitney Hill provides habitat for birds and mammals and should remain wild. Linda Cocca
Gary M August 30, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Charlie, Thanks for talking to Chris Hayward. It lays to waste all the anti TC / cell tower conspiracy theories being peddled here.
Steve Magoon August 31, 2012 at 12:51 PM
I would like to clarify a couple items. First, the Town Council is considering a request from the Conservation Commission to place additional restrictions on the use of the property. The property is already owned by the Town, and there is no consideration to make any changes to the property itself, and there is no need to acquire the property. The request from the Con Com was originally made some time ago, and the property needed to be surveyed, which has also been done. Now the question is what level of protection (use limitation) does the Town want to place on the property for the future.


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