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of the

Watertown Historical Commission

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Council Chambers


Adopted December 10, 2009


Historical Commission Members Present:  Russo, Melone, Steele, Loukas, Berg, Roach


Staff Present:  Hayward, Collins


 Public Present:  See attached Sign-In Form


Russo chaired.  The meeting opened at 7:00p.m.


1)      Public Hearing ?Application for a Demolition Permit - 77 Fayette Street ?to demolish a single-family and replace it with a new two-family structure, Leonard T. Holt, applicant


Leonard T. Holt, developer, proposed the request to demolish 77 Fayette Street, a single family to be replaced by a two-family structure.  He reported that the health department had found the property to be unsafe for habitation due to structural issues.   He informed that the property is over 9000 square feet in a two-family zone.  He was unable to identify the date of construction of the original home.  He believed it was 1921.    He described the ownership lineage of the property.  Holt is proposing a two family, 1900 square feet per unit with setbacks from 10? to 15?, for replacement.


Russo noted that though Thompson condemned the property for structural purposes it was not officially condemned.  He questioned how much it would cost to safeguard the house.  Holt responded that it would cost more that the property was worth. He noted it was very costly to raise the structure from the foundation.


Berg inquired about the foundation.  Holt noted that it was both of dirt and cement.  He informed that the cement floor was not done for support and that the house sags approximately a foot in the middle.  Berg inquired if the foundation was sound.  Holt said it was not.


Russo noted that the property was built in 1856.  Berg informed that the front porch was installed in 1922.  And that the footprint of the house appeared in maps of Watertown going back to 1856.


Melone inquired if the property was vacated of furniture.  Michael Delaney, attorney for the owner, responded that some of the belongings had been removed and that the resident was moved in April of 2009.


Debra Gelinas, 85 Fayette Street, lives next to property in a house built in 1840.  She felt the present property added to the neighborhood.


Roach thought it was a shame to loose a property built before the Civil War.


Russo noted that the structure was old and in a neighborhood of structures from the same period.  He felt it was Preferably Preserved.  It thought it was simple with integrity.


Melone identified the street as mixed, composed of two-families.  He noted that there was not a great deal of harmony in structural styles.  He identified the original structure as simple of one and half stories, with period capitals.    He thought that if it were in better condition, it should be preserved.


Russo thought the property was compromised, though it had the corner capitals.  If house had not been sided the integrity would be there.


Berg thought that without the porch the structure would be better.  He agreed that it was preferably preserved.


Melone provided photos of the back of the building.


Steele agreed with Russo ? preferably preserved without a delay.


Vote:  Berg moved to identify 77 Fayette Street as preferably preserved.  Steele seconded the motion.  The motion was unanimously approved.


Russo thought the building to be compromised, and did not know the cost to preserve it.


Vote:  Berg moved that no delay be imposed on 77 Fayette Street.  Melone seconded the motion.  The motion was unanimously approved.


Loukas inquired if information on the cost of shoring the home would be more that the value of the house of $326,000. 


The HC requested that photos of the interior be taken for the record.


2)      Continuation Invitation to Comment ? 111 Mt. Auburn Street - Proposed Telecommunications Facility Installation


Carmen DeMarco, Bill Daniels, John Costi, and Kathryn Emmitt, represented the project.  DeMarco noted that the drawings had been revised and information on Duro Fiber was provided as requested.


Costi and Daniels noted that the antenna would be located on the south side and be the size of a coffee cup in white.


A sample panel was provided.


Russo inquired if the paint will weather at the same rate and will it be noticeable over time.  Daniels responded that the Duro Fiber will be painted in latex. It will weather similarly as the painted steeple surface.  He noted that a panel was installed in 1999 in Nantucket and it was repainted last year.  It was not noticeable.


Russo inquired if the church had been painted.  Hayward responded that the lower section was painted this summer by volunteer church members.  Costi said the steeple will be painted as part of the antenna installation.


Loukas inquired if there was experience with panels cracking.  Daniels responded that if there is any failure in the panels they will replace them.  Daniels informed that the steeple is not structural, it is supported by a steel interior frame.  The antenna panel will be made from a rubber mold of the panel. 


Russo inquired what happens when the agreement with the church ends.  When not longer necessary, Russo requested that the antenna panels be replaced by the original wood panels. Daniels noted that a condition of the HDC was to store the existing wood panels at the church for future replacement.


Russo noted that the HC will have ?no comment? in their ITC to the MHC on the project.


3)                Ridgelawn Cemetery Discussion


Vincent Piccirilli, member Town Council, informed that the Town will be running out of burial spaces in ten years and that consideration for above ground burial structures has been considered by the DPW.  Abutters are upset and an ordinance preventing the above ground burial structures is being proposed before the Town Council Subcommittee on Rules and Ordinances.  Piccirilli wondered if the Ridgelawn?s historic and cultural character was being affected by the above proposed above ground burial structures. He questioned whether Ridgelawn was a historic significant site.


Russo inquired about the size and scale of the proposed structure.  Piccirilli noted that it would be approximately 6? to 8? high.  Piccirilli informed that there is presently a one story concrete block maintenance building on the grounds. 


Piccirilli noted that the contours of the cemetery could be terraced into the existing hill.  The proposed two units of 6 to 15? high would be terraced.  The DPW?s consultant thought it could provide up to 7000 additional spots.  Berg requested to see the plans and scale.  Piccirilli noted that schematic designs could be made available.


Steele inquired how the consultant was selected. Was it an opened process?  Piccirilli responded that Traffic Solutions was selected and that the bid was under $25,000. 


Melone inquired who was upset about the proposal ? abutters or relatives of the interred.  Piccirilli responded that both were.  Piccirilli wondered if Ridgelawn was of historic value.


Steele responded that it was historically valid.  However, a structure and wall could be designed sensitively similar to the structures at Mt. Auburn, which is a national landmark.


Russo suggested doing a site visit to identify the historic elements involved ? people, topography and plan.


Piccirilli noted that the consultant?s plan was not design driven.  He informed that the concrete block structure is planned for demolition for the installation of a smaller maintenance building.  Joyce Kelly noted that the cemetery was established in 1902.  Piccirilli informed that a public hearing will take place on November 19 on the proposed ordinance. Russo noted that the some members Brigham family was buried there.  Loukas suggested that research be done on the merits of the project and facts about the cemetery.


Russo didn?t know how a mausoleum would be detrimental or compromise Ridgelawn.


Russo requested that the item be placed on the agenda for next month.


4)      October Minutes ? Approved.


5)      Watertown Historic Landmark Ordinance


Russo informed that ordinance was moving forward.  The ordinance was amended to limit a landmarking to properties with owner consent.


6)      Barns and Outbuildings Inventory




7)      Informational ? Donation of the original 1630 -1930 Watertown Historical Map by the family of Mary B. Hotz and supporting historic documents.


The map is at Hagop Framing to be framed as requested by the HC.  Collins to call for the status of the project and for pick-up by Mr. Loukas


8)      26 Sawin Street


Berg to take photos of Sawin Street


9)      Perkins School


Hayward reported that Perkins School held it?s groundbreaking and that he had been handling abutters concerns.


10)  Historic Tour of the Administration Building


Tour is scheduled for November 14 at 10am. 


Meeting adjourned at 8:45pm.