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LETTERS: Pleasant Street Residents Oppose 14-Unit Condo Building

Two neighbors of the 192 Pleasant Street development write that the project will harm their neighborhood.

 

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to your story about the recent Planning Board meeting discussing the proposed development project at 192 Pleasant Street which ran in the Patch on January 14, 2013. I was surprised and disappointed to see that your article made no mention of the many, vocal residents who were at this meeting to oppose the project in its current form. Your article leaves the reader with the false sense that residents have only cosmetic concerns about the building.  On the contrary, after hearing arguments from both sides of this issue at the meeting, all present know that concerns were raised and continue to exist about crucial elements of the planned development, namely:

  • Parking and drop off space: not only did resident after resident at  the meeting raise this concern, but most planning board members seemed to agree that visitor parking is inadequate, and there is a lack of planning for drop offs/ deliveries/taxi's/moving vans. Pleasant St. cannot accommodate the stopping or double parking that adding 14 units would inevitably bring. This will negatively affect residents up and down Pleasant Street and our neighbors on side streets as people seek alternate parking that simply does not exist.
  • Proposed development does not  fit into this predominantly residential (single and two family homes) neighborhood:  the most compelling graphic we saw at the January 9th meeting  was the aerial photo held up by a planning board member. There is no better evidence that ours is neighborhood of homes as opposed to condo/apartment developments. Many would like to keep it this way, and think that “smart planning” should allow for this. Invoking wording form the plan for the Pleasant Street Corridor, I do not believe this planned development conforms to other properties in our neighborhood. It is too large.
  • Environmental concerns: The project does not appear to fit many specifications of the town Conservation Committee as construction and pavement are too close to the buffer zone of the river. In an example of poor scheduling and unfairness to residents, the Conservation Committee meeting discussing this project was happening at the exact same time as the Planning Committee meeting on January 9th.  Could town officials see that this type of scheduling doesn’t happen again?
  • Proposed river access does not adequately compensate for the substantial drawbacks of the proposal.  Residents already have easy access to the river in short walking distance. The slope of the planned path is steep, presenting challenges of navigation (also not likely to be ADA compliant).  It also has potential to create an unsafe space at which pedestrians may cross a busy Pleasant Street. This should not be considered adequate payback to the community for the development.

Other concerns residents raised included the likelihood, because the development is so large, that our street would be dug up again. Just a year ago, residents went through this. One gentleman mentioned that residents should have at least 5 years respite from such an imposition and that this was in line with town's five year policy on roads. There are also consequences of less sun for the residents directly across from the planned development because the planned construction is too high.

I think that Pleasant St. already has too many big box units:  Repton Place, Haartz-Mason Site, 140, and the property that appears to be on a construction hiatus at Howard and Pleasant Streets. It is evident when one takes a trip down Pleasant Street that developers have fared well and been granted many lucrative opportunities by our planning director and planning board. I think it is time for town officials to put current residents, community well being and the character of our neighborhoods ahead of outside, corporate interests.

I hope all neighbors in agreement will attend the next planning board meeting on February 13th at 7PM in the Town Council Chamber, 2nd Floor, and that those concerned about the environment and well being of the Charles River will attend the Conservation Committee meeting February 6th at 7:30

Let’s let them know, NO MORE BIG BOXES, especially those that threaten the Charles.



Sincerely,
Colleen Sexton
Pleasant Street Resident

 

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Dear Editor,

 

I am writing to you with regard to the article that was posted in the Patch this morning with regard to the proposed property development at 192 Pleasant Street in Watertown, MA. 

I want to be clear as a 10 year Watertown resident and direct abutter to the proposed development that my concerns and the concerns expressed by many of the other Watertown residents at the January 9th Planning Board Meeting are not about the cosmetics of the building.  I believe the members of the planning board expressed concerns regarding the small windows, brick facade and haphazard rear building design, but the concerns community members expressed were about traffic, crippling parking demands, and diminished sunlight and neighborhood feel. 

I purchased a condominium unit in a two family home in September of 2002 in a busy but fairly quiet light industrial area of Watertown.  I could not have imagined that within a 10 year span that 3 very large developments would be built less than 3 blocks from my existing home and that I would potentially have over 500 new neighbors.  The rental building at 140 Pleasant Street is offering over 40 rental units and the behemoth building at the old Hartz Mason site will offer well over 150 new rental units.  The site at the corner of Howard and Pleasant Street appears to be at an unattractive stand still of construction but hear plans that it will be built for over 20 units.  Not to mention the new gym going into the property which used to be Newton Roofing directly across the street on Howard & Pleasant. 

It isn't that I am opposed to development at the 192 Pleasant Street site.  But the proposed building is too large and 14 is too many units. 

Has anyone really looked at what any of this new construction will do to the quality for life for the existing residents of the Pleasant Street corridor?  Or are town officials simply looking to expand the tax base?  Because none of this new construction of 1 & 2 bedroom units, including the proposed two bedroom condominiums at 192 Pleasant Street takes into account accommodating families.  In an area that is already starved for off street parking lets say that every new resident of the Pleasant Street corridor hosts Thanksgiving dinner and invites just two other family members or friends.  Where are 952 people going to park?

My concerns along with others may not affect the Planning Board's vote in February, but wanted to make sure you knew that the residents of the area are not as concerned with the appearance of the property but with the property's size and affect on the quality of our neighborhood and over quality of life.  Perhaps you might be interested in talking to some folks about the other part of the story.  Thank you for your consideration. 

 

Cindy Nelson
Pleasant Street Resident

 

 

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