Mayor, city council candidates answer questions about land management policies ahead of upcoming fall election
Candidates for Waltham Mayor and the City Council answered questions about city land management issues, coinciding with the approach of preliminary elections for city government, on Sept. 15. The preliminary elections, which will be held Tuesday, are for mayor, School Committee and City Council.
The Waltham Land Trust, the city’s non-profit environmental group, spoke to candidates for mayor and City Council and asked them how they feel about space maintenance and development in Waltham, Patch reported. The candidates had a Sept. 3 deadline to answer the questions.
The first question asked how the candidates assess the way Waltham handles its open spaces and also asked to elaborate on how to improve work on these areas. Mayoral candidate Diane LeBlanc spoke about how “wonderful” such open space is, but said that there needs to be greater protection over the property, such as by hiring a park ranger and sustainability manager. Current Mayor Jeanette McCarthy, who is running for reelection, reiterated LeBlanc’s point about a park ranger, saying that the position has been approved by the City Council. Another mayoral candidate, Melissa Downes, said that development can impact traffic and that she thought voters want development to slow down.
The second question regards how the WLT’s position on land development impacts how the city’s property is managed. The mayoral and city council candidates all support the WLT. City council candidate David Gately said, for example, “I commend the research work of the Waltham Land Trust and their advocacy on behalf of protecting our environment and open spaces. As a parent, homeowner and resident of our community, I am grateful for WLT’s existence.” Elizabeth Gelles, another candidate for city council, however, said that she did not want to make a definitive conclusion on the subject.
Question three asked about the city’s negotiations with the University of Massachusetts to control the Waltham Field Station and Lawrence Meadows on Beaver Street. The candidates were asked how they visualize that land space in terms of its use. Downes said she wants to make sure work environments are safe in existing buildings, but also said she wants to emphasize “connecting residents to the land and nature” by incorporating education and research on invasive species. LeBlanc said that the land acquisition is fine for farming and open space.
The final question was only for the City Council candidates of Ward One about Prospect Hill Park and how they plan to bring more residents and visitors there. Prospect Hill Park is the city’s oldest and largest park. Candidate David Gately suggested increasing publicity of the park. Gelles mentioned having a trolley up to the park to make it more accessible.
All of the candidates were given the opportunity to respond to the questions as the elections approach this fall. A full list of candidates and their responses was published by the WLT.