There's also a regular bi-monthly opportunity to speak to the entire City Council -- and to a wider audience too, since Watertown Cable TV broadcasts City Council meetings live: City Council meetings begin with a Public Forum. (Be sure to let the Council know before the start of the meeting that you'd like two minutes to speak.)
Residents can use Public Forum time to present a two-minute address on any topic, including topics not on the night's Council agenda. Take advantage of this opportunity to speak for trees!
City committee, board and commission meetings are other key opportunities for citizens to speak up for better municipal planning and design for healthy trees.
Look for tree-related items on these meeting agendas.
Keep an eye out too for special public forums on upcoming street reconstruction or building development projects.
Check these Watertown government websites and other Watertown information sources for meeting agendas:
Shade trees are a vital part of urban infrastructure! To protect Watertown's environmental health and minimize the "heat island effect" of increased hardscape, development plans submitted for approval to Watertown's Planning Board and ZBA should include green infrastructural components and minimize the development's negative environmental impact.
Shade trees provide many important urban services beyond the esthetics of "landscaping". Careful site engineering for the use and long-term vitality of shade trees should be included from the beginning in any development design. New urban developments are often built on sites which have long been in urban use. Ideally, any new Watertown development will IMPROVE on the ecological impact of the previous use of that land.
The Conservation Commission has stewardship of Watertown's parks, and has legal responsibility for protecting the Charles River from urban pollution, much of which is carried into the river by storm drains.
Shade tree root systems can play a major role in minimizing the toxic effects of storm water runoff by filtering the water before it reaches the drain system and by absorbing excess runoff.
The unique value and vulnerability of municipal shade trees has been formally recognized in Massachusetts State Law since 1899. Every Massachusetts city and town must have a Tree Warden, who is responsible for the planting, protection and management of public shade trees within a municipality. A Massachusetts Tree Warden must be a Certified Arborist.
Watertown's Tree Warden makes it a priority to educate young Watertown citizens about the importance and value of Watertown's shade trees.
Without explicit prior approval from a municipality's Tree Warden, no public shade tree may be pruned or removed except trees which must be sacrificed for the widening of a state highway.
By Massachusetts State Law, the Tree Warden must hold a public Tree Hearing for any public shade tree for which a request for removal has been received, with the exception of any tree which the Tree Warden determines is an imminent public safety hazard.
Any citizen or department in a municipality may request removal of a public shade tree. The Tree Warden must post a notice on the tree and must publish a general notice announcing the Tree Hearing at least two weeks before the Tree Hearing.
At the Tree Hearing, the Tree Warden considers each tree on the roster and hears public comments regarding its takedown. Based on these statements of community impact and on the Tree Warden's own assessment of the tree, the Tree Warden either approves or denies the request for removal.
To speak for or against a tree removal request, write a letter or email to the Tree Warden, making sure it arrives no later than the day before the Hearing. Better still, come to the Tree Hearing to voice your opinion in person.
Want to learn more about the duties of a Massachusetts Tree Warden and the legal protections required for Massachusetts public shade trees? Here's a link to Chapter 87 of the Massachusetts General Laws, also known as the
East End Neighbors is a concerned citizens group organized to increase civic engagement in Watertown’s East End by sponsoring activities, disseminating information and creating dialog about local issues.
The Concerned Citizens Group (CCG) was established in 1971 as a non-profit Neighborhood Association representing the streets between Walnut Street and Irving Street on the side of Mt. Auburn Street between Walnut Street to Irving Street. Our goal is to create and sustain a supportive community of people who care about Watertown, our neighborhood, and issues of concern to us.