Hear From Colette

On The Issues

 

Know where candidates stand on the issues!

For candidate events, see my Candidate Forums page.  Issues including fiduciary responsibility, sustainability, housing, diversity, ​revitalizing downtown, ballot question on Indigenous Peoples Day and more.

 

Swellesley Report Q&A

What is your background and what qualifies you for a position on the Select Board?

 

I am a current Select Board and Town Meeting member, former Audit Committee chair, an accountant, and have extensive experience in volunteering and civic engagement.

 

Now, more than ever, being a trained accountant with several years of in-depth review of the town's financial statements through the Audit Committee is incredibly valuable. Much of the work of the Select Board  involves pouring over budgets and fiscal policies and setting guidelines to make ends meet while maintaining services for our residents.

 

I have built an understanding of Wellesley’s unique and complex town government structure through my work on the Audit Committee, as an engaged TMM, as a neighborhood representative in the redevelopment of Linden Square and as an advocate for numerous issues affecting our schools over the years. This work has involved attending and engaging in Town Meeting, as well as with a number of town boards - Select, Advisory, Planning, Design Review, Zoning, and more. Understanding how Wellesley’s government structure works, and how all these boards interact with each other, is critically important to being an effective Select Board member as the Select Board is the executive body of our town.

 

I have the right personality and working style to be a successful Select Board member. I define my personal working style as persistent, reasonable collaboration, and it has been successful for me. I am a listener and a bridge builder, and I understand that compromise is often necessary to move forward.

 

Finally, I have experience sitting on the Select Board in a uniquely challenging time for local government.  I have spent the past several months immersing myself in the details of the current fiscal climate and economic outlook. I have supported initiatives aimed at assisting local merchants. I continue to learn about municipal strategies to focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. I have taken on committee assignments in mobility and transport at a time when the norms of mass transit are upended. I have advocated for Wellesley and built relationships with municipal organizations and peers throughout Metrowest.  I would like to continue that work and leverage the momentum I have gained.

 

The Wellesley business district has faced challenges recently, as evidenced by many empty storefronts. How can the Select Board and the Town further support existing businesses and encourage new ones to come into Wellesley?

 

The economic impacts of the pandemic have indeed been challenging for our merchants.  The town and the Select Board have engaged in several different initiatives aimed at supporting local businesses, including outdoor dining support like parklets, take-out liquor licensing, free parking, “shop local” media campaigns and more. 

 

The Select Board was successful in our project request to Babson College’s Office of Experiential Learning.  Starting in March, graduate student consulting teams at Babson’s Strategic Analysis Consulting Program will focus on finding innovative solutions and insights into some of the business challenges we are facing as a result of the pandemic, as well as changes in consumer behavior in areas such as e-commerce.  We hope this project will provide insight into ways to address issues such as vacant commercial storefronts and high turnover rates, and to better understand what types of businesses would be successful in Wellesley.  We have asked the student consulting team to aid us in identifying potential barriers to attracting new business and retaining existing ones. The Select Board has also sought out a business development summer internship in collaboration with Babson College. 

 

The Select Board is currently considering changes to regulations on the minimum number of seats for a restaurant to obtain a liquor license. I am very interested in pursuing discussions with local restaurateurs and getting input from residents on this matter.  Liquor licenses are considered an essential tool for economic development in communities, small and large, seeking to revitalize economically disadvantaged areas.  Such changes could help bring new vibrancy to our business areas.

 

Wellesley recently joined the Newton Needham Watertown Regional Chamber of Commerce.  This group is highly organized, financially strong and effective. The collective voices of businesses and not-for-profit organizations within the multi-town Chamber can be an effective advocate for local business interests. The Select Board can partner with the Chamber where appropriate as part of its work to support local merchants. 

 

How can Wellesley more effectively engage in acting on the concerns of its residents of diverse backgrounds?

 

Recently, Wellesley applied for a grant through the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) to develop a Racial Equity Municipal Action Plan (REMAP). Unfortunately, our grant request was not approved.  Instead, the town has begun exploring ways to embark on this process ourselves.  We have approved funding for a consultant to aid in establishing a representative task force or working group. I was very supportive of the funding for this initiative.  Building a strong foundation for this work and ensuring we begin the process in a thoughtful way is critical to long term success.

Wellesley is not alone in exploring ways to address racial inequity.   We can learn from, and leverage the experience of, peer towns and community partners. The Select Board will soon hold a forum to learn more about the REMAP program and have invited an MAPC representative and a manager from a local town that is currently developing a REMAP plan. This is the first step in developing a strategic plan to engage with residents of diverse backgrounds, hear their concerns, and be responsive. Wellesley Public Schools (WPS) recently hired a director of diversity, equity and inclusion and she has spent her first year doing the foundational work necessary to build a strategic plan for the schools. As we go through this same process on the municipal side, forming a strong partnership with WPS will be a priority.

How can Wellesley manage the financial implications of the pandemic going forward? Already a plan has been put into place to significantly cut Wellesley's capital spending across the board. In addition, some Free Cash Reserves money has been tapped to cover items such as public safety and snow removal. What else can be done to manage the financial implications of COVID-19? 

Managing the financial impact of the pandemic takes a willingness to engage in discussions with all town boards about capital and operating expenses - what is necessary, what can be reimagined, what can be delayed and the impacts of delays and cuts.  We need to think creatively about funding sources, write grants, perhaps bundle some moderate capital projects together for potential debt exclusions and keep an eye on what is funded inside the levy as debt service and cash capital expense. If we manage the next phases of the school building projects in an effective and timely manner, we have the ability to include feasibility and design expenses in the debt exclusion - thereby freeing up space within the levy to catch up on delayed cash capital expenditures.  It will take thoughtful planning and communication with Town Meeting and residents to responsibly and successfully move these projects forward and pass debt exclusion votes. 

Budgeting during this time is an exercise in managing many unknown elements.  Since I joined the Board, we have slowly had confirmation of funding sources such as Chapter 90 Funding (for capital projects such as roads). The recently signed Governor's budget included good news for Unrestricted Government Grants and Chapter 70 funding for education. We are waiting to hear more about further federal aid in the form of a second round of COVID relief for municipalities. At the same time we have made assumptions, such as the return to school in the fall, which will be dependent on several variables, not least the success of the vaccine roll out. 

When all is said and done, it is fair to assume we will have drawn down on our reserves and will need to rebuild them. Our town’s long history of conservative planning and good fiscal policy prepared us well for the financial impacts of this pandemic. A period of reflection and review would be valuable to ensure we remain prepared for any future shocks.

 

Is there anything else you would like to say that the above questions did not cover?

 

I respectfully ask for your vote to continue to serve the Wellesley at this challenging time. I would like to leverage the momentum I have gained since joining the Select Board in September 2020, and to continue the important work I have begun.

 

How should voters reach you if they want more information?

 

I can be reached at electcoletteaufranc@gmail.com. I have a lot of information about my background, qualifications, current work on the Select Board and more - visit my website at www.electcoletteaufranc.com.

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League of Women Voters

Click here to watch the League of Women Voters "Meet the Candidate forum.  Thank you to the league for hosting this important event.

 

Select Board candidates start around minute 53.

Candidate Questions and Answers

 

Relevant Experience

 

I am a current Select Board and Town Meeting Member, former Audit Committee Chair and an accountant

Why are you running for this office? What are your top priorities? 800- Characters

 

I am running for re-election to the Select Board to continue the work I have begun.  I joined the Board to serve, and to bring an important skill set to the Board in a challenging time. I am an accountant and served as chair of the Audit Committee. As a Town Meeting Member, I have experience in Wellesley’s complex Town Government. My personal working style is persistent, collaborative engagement. I am a listener and a relationship builder. These qualities are critical for a successful Board member. My goals: building reasonable budgets within our fiscal policies; continuing my work on “sustainable mobility” to improve access to alternative modes of transit; supporting our merchants recovery and re-invigorating downtown; engaging in the broader conversation on diversity equity and inclusion.

The pandemic has given us an opportunity to re-envision our commercial districts. What ideas do you have for revitalizing these areas that are traditionally central to Wellesley’s character?  

 

We have a number of ideas.

  • The Select Board was successful in our request to be included in Babson College’s Experiential Learning program.  Starting in March, graduate students will focus on solutions and insights into some of the business challenges we are facing as a result of the pandemic, and changes in consumer behavior vis-avis e-commerce. 

  • The Board is also considering required seat minimums for restaurants to obtain a liquor licence. Licences are considered a very effective tool in revitalizing downtowns. I have been working with our staff to understand industry trends, engage in conversations with restaurant owners and get a better understanding of factors at play when considering Wellesley as a location

  • For a successful vibrant downtown you need good shops, density of population and hours of operation 

  • Development of Railroad lot can be part of a reinvigoration - we just need to balance the timing of that development with other ongoing projects in the nearby vicinity.

  • I feel we can really engage our new regional Chamber of Commerce in all of these discussions.

 

  

In this time of reduced availability of funding, how would you go about building the appropriate budget for the Town?

It takes a willingness to engage in discussions with all town boards about capital and operating expenses - what is necessary, what can be reimagined, what can be delayed and the impacts of delays and cuts.  We can think creatively about funding sources, write grants, perhaps bundle some moderate capital projects together for potential debt exclusions and keep an eye on what is funded inside the levy as debt service versus cash capital expense.  Budgeting in this time is an exercise in managing many unknown elements.  Since I joined the Board, we have slowly had confirmation of various government grants which are important funding sources. We are waiting to hear more on further federal aid in the form of a second round of COVID relief for municipalities. At the same time we have had to make assumptions, such as a full return to school in the fall.

When all is said and done, it is fair to assume we will have drawn down on our reserves and will need to rebuild them. Our town’s long history of conservative planning and good fiscal policy prepared us well for this pandemic - a period of reflection and review would be valuable to ensure we remain prepared for any future shocks.

 

What role should the Select Board take, given the Town’s decentralized government, in leading and coordinating a response for recovery from the pandemic?

 

The decentralized nature of Wellesley’s town government does pose challenges in situations like this.  

 

The critical elements necessary, given the structure we have, are good clear lines of communication, and building relationships and trust with elected boards. Good communication, through the Select Board liaison role, ensures we understand the elected boards strategies and their reasoned decision making. 

 

Building trust enables us to communicate any strategic direction, or concerns we may have, with faith that our input will be given weight. Some good advice I have been given by experienced hands is that you “manage “things” and lead people”.

 

Overall it is all about developing relationships, building trust, and having constant clear communication. Takes an investment of time and patient listening, and the willingness to problem solve as a team. 

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World of Wellesley Q&A

 

Wellesley’s 2019 Unified Plan lists diversity as a core value. What are your top priorities for making Wellesley a community that welcomes a diversity of people and households?

Recently, Wellesley applied for a grant through the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) to develop a Racial Equity Municipal Action Plan (REMAP). Unfortunately, our grant request was not approved, so instead the town has begun exploring how to embark on this process ourselves.  We have approved funding for a consultant to aid in establishing a representative task force or working group. This is a priority for me and I was very supportive of the funding for this initiative. Building a strong foundation at the outset of this work is crucial to ensure that the steps we take are meaningful and the actions we pursue are successful. 

 

Wellesley is not alone in exploring ways to address racial inequity. We can learn from, and leverage the experience of, similar towns and community partners. The Select Board will soon hold a forum to learn more about the REMAP program and have invited an MAPC representative and a manager from a peer town that is currently developing a REMAP plan.  This is the first step in developing a strategic plan to engage with residents of diverse backgrounds, hear their concerns and be responsive. Wellesley Public School’s (WPS) recently-hired director of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) has spent her first year doing the foundational work necessary to build a strategic plan for inclusiveness in our schools. As we go through a similar process on the municipal side, forming a strong partnership with WPS will be a priority.

 

What actions should the Select Board take to address systemic racism in Wellesley institutions? 

 

To identify appropriate actions to take, we must first support the formation of a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) task force. We have learned from early discussions with other municipalities doing this work that critical factors to success include forming a group with as many voices as possible represented, especially those seldom heard in town government, and supporting this team as it identifies what matters to address in their work, and along what timeline. The Select Board should provide on-going support to the DEI working group, and be guided by their outcomes and recommendations.

 

Do you support or oppose ballot question 1 to honor Indigenous Peoples Day and cease to celebrate Columbus Day? Why?

 

As I have listened and learned more about the movement to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day, I have come to understand why a national holiday of celebration is long overdue. Moreover, I have come to better understand how Columbus Day has become synonymous with colonialism and the end of a way of life for indigenous people. While I am very sympathetic to the Italian American community’s desire to maintain their celebration, I feel that America is evolving and we should celebrate all immigrants for the sacrifices they make and the benefits they bring. I would support celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day in October and finding another day to celebrate all immigrants.

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Sustainable Wellesley Q&A

What is your track record on environmental sustainability, including any related interests, experience, or initiatives?

 

Work as a member of the Select Board

 

When I joined the Select Board, just a few short months ago, I was delighted to be assigned the liaison role to the Mobility Committee.   As the Select Board's representative on the Mobility

Committee I have worked on the following:

  • MBTA Advisory Board representative for Wellesley

    • Advocating for continued Commuter Rail service and Mass Pike capacity during the Allston-I90 multimodal project​

    • Advocating for greater public outreach and more responsive rebuilding of service by the MBTA as part of their "Forging Ahead" plan

    • Advocating for a quicker and more nimble reopening plan for MBTA services

  • MWRTA Advisory Board representative for Wellesley

    • Working with the MetroWest Regional Transit Authority (MWRTA) on a "micro transit" pilot for local ride shares as an alternative to fixed route bus service

  • Sustainable Mobility Visioning Plan

    • Worked with the Mobility Committee to issue a request for proposal to create a Sustainable Mobility Plan (SMP) for Wellesley.  The plan will address ways to increase the use of alternative modes of transport in Wellesley, lessen reliance on single occupancy vehicles, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    • Worked with a subset of the Mobility Committee to review proposal responses, interview candidates and select a consultant.

    • Engaged in working sessions to help build the SMP

    • Worked with town staff to write grants for covered bicycle stands at Wellesley Middle School and improved traffic crossing signalizations to make walking and biking more attractive options for our students and residents. 

  • Other Initiatives

    • Advocating with the Department of Conservation and Recreation to expand trail connectivity between Wellesley Office Park and the nearby Quinobequin Trail and Hemlock Gorge.  As a future site of 350 residential units, connectivity is critical.

    • Attending "Safe Routes to School" conferences and working closely with the School Committee representative on mobility issues in order to move forward sustainable initiatives surrounding arrival and dismissal traffic.

 

Work as volunteer

 

Like many people, I have become more and more concerned about the environment and want to take concrete steps in my own life to live more sustainably.  Luckily, I met the leaders of Sustainable Wellesley very early in the formation of the organization and have been supporting their efforts ever since. In 2018 I became the treasurer for Sustainable Wellesley and held that position until September of 2020, when I was elected to the Select Board. At that time I transitioned the position to the new treasurer, whom I introduced to Sustainable Wellesley’s leadership team. In addition to my role as treasurer from 2018 - 2020,  I worked with the Wellesley Police Department to raise funds for and install a bike pump and rack station outside the Police Department. I also worked closely with Sustainable Wellesley leadership to help build a new website for the organization. 

 

As treasurer of Sprague PTO (2010-12), I helped build budgets supporting many green schools initiatives, including the purchase of coffee mugs for use at PTO meetings, the establishment of the Sprague Garden, the installation of a permanent playground shade structure and tree planting.  While treasurer of the Central Council of PTOs (2011-2015), I helped get the word out through all PTO treasurers in town to encourage participation in the incredibly successful “Power to Choose” campaign.  As co-president at WHS PTSO (2018-19), I encouraged committees to use sustainable resources available from Wellesley Green Schools, including reusable banquet supplies.  

 

Personal choices

 

The choices my family and I make in the daily management of our lives include a focus on sustainability. We chose to live in a central location in town so we could walk to our everyday activities. I walked or cycled to elementary school with my children. My son continues to walk to school almost every day and my daughter took public transportation to her middle/high school in Boston. We walk into town for the shops, the library, restaurants - everything. I usually walk to the grocery store with my reusable bags! When we renovated our house in 2003, we took down one invasive tree and planted 50 arborvitaes in our very small (.06 acre) lot. I have an arborist inspect our two large shade trees every year, our landscaper was happy to stop using a blower and to leave grass clippings on our lawn. We do not use pesticides or fertilizers on our lawn. I use soap nuts for a good deal of our laundry and woolen balls in our dryer. My political campaign uses biodegradable lawn signs. We have a hybrid vehicle and I recently downsized my minivan to a mini. We conducted a home energy audit several years ago, replaced old windows with more energy efficient ones, were evaluated for solar energy, signed up for the food waste program the day it was launched and, more recently, the “Shave the Peak” program.  We have programmable thermostats set at levels recommended for sustainable living. We have reduced our meat consumption and increased vegetarian meals.

In our family life, the outdoors holds a very special place for us.  Hiking has always been a favorite family activity, starting with weekend walks around lake Waban when our children were very young and continuing to this day. We have walked or run every town trail together and make hiking and walking a centerpiece of every vacation we take together.  My son is an avid catch and release fisher, my husband and daughter are committed runners and frequent cyclists, I walk on town trails several times a week.

How do you see sustainability and climate change as factors in the development of policy for the Town of Wellesley?

 

I see sustainability and climate change as critical factors in any and all policy development. It is simply a constant we have to have in our minds as we enter into these discussions to bring sustainable policies and actions into practice. 

 

Although we are not a large municipality there is strong support from our residents, Town Meeting and the town government to develop policies that support sustainability. We are fortunate as a town to have the Sustainable Energy Committee working towards the development of a Climate Action Plan. This plan will help lay the roadmap for actions we can take and policies we can develop to reach our goals in addressing climate change.  In balancing the limited resources we have as a town, we need to keep asking if the policies we develop lead to actions that result in the best value for our expended assets - whether that be staff time or dollars spent. 

 

 

As you know, Town Meeting passed the Select Board’s Resolution to Address the Impact of Climate Change in October 2020. How do you envision this urgent resolution being carried out in the months ahead? What additional actions will you champion to ensure that the Town meets its goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? 

 

I envision each board and department including sustainability in their discussions of everyday agendas and work plans. By simply asking the question “what are the environmental impacts of these actions?” a more thoughtful, directed and effective conversation can take place. Measuring the impact of our policies will also be crucial in determining which are most effective. Going forward, Select Board budget write ups will call out department actions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  We will be aggregating the impact in the budget book this year.

 

My most significant liaison role as Select Board member to date has been with the Mobility Committee. Currently, the primary focus of this committee is to develop a Sustainable Mobility Plan (SMP) to encourage alternative modes of transport and assist in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to developing the SMP, I have been working with the MWRTA to help facilitate a micro transit pilot program in Wellesley. I have also worked with the Trails Committee to advocate for connectivity between the existing trails on site at William Street and the surrounding trails network. One of the reasons I hope to remain on the Select Board is to continue this important work.  It takes perseverance and many small steps, as well as some big wins, to move forward in addressing climate change. 

 

Given that the Select Board is responsible for making appointments to several important town committees, what will you do to ensure that at least some members of these committees will bring an understanding of  environmental  issues to Town matters under consideration?  

 

The Select Board appoints members to a wide range of important town boards and committees. In making appointments it is critical for the Select Board to weigh many factors - technical expertise, relevant experience, fit for the role, representation of different populations, and demonstrated understanding of the issues that are important to our town - environmental and sustainability matters included. We encourage people of all backgrounds and experiences to consider volunteering their time. In my experience to date we have been fortunate to have a broad selection of incredibly well qualified and balanced candidates.  Going forward, I will thoughtfully consider the makeup of any committee or board to ensure it is composed of a well-qualified and balanced team who are concerned with all matters of great importance to our residents, including environmental and sustainability issues.

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Fiduciary Responsibilities

 

The Select Board is the Town’s executive body with significant fiduciary responsibilities.  By training, I am a Chartered Accountant (the UK equivalent of a CPA) and worked for twelve years as an auditor with PWC in the UK and USA.  I served on Wellesley’s Audit Committee and am a Town Meeting Member.  Running for election as a Town Meeting Member and seeking an appointment on the Audit Committee were purposeful steps I took in 2018 to gain a better understanding of Wellesley’s town government and its overall global financial picture before running for and being elected to the Select Board on September 1, 2020.

As I write this the Board has issued very tight budget guidelines for each department for operating and capital expenditures. The Board must now work through with each department what that means in terms of services cut and delayed capital spending, while working to close projected budget deficits. This is particularly challenging in an environment where there are many significant unknown factors such as:

  • future municipal COVID relief funds

  • the orderly and widespread roll out of a vaccine

  • future school structure (will school return fully in person in September 2021)

  • future state aid funding, and

  • what will life look like after a vaccination - will there be new commuting patterns or new ongoing costs? 

We just don’t know the answers to these questions yet, but we need to make a plan to get through the next few years. Closing budget deficits will take a combination of cuts to departmental capital requests and Inside The Levy borrowings, planned drawdowns of reserves, and tighter budgetary guidelines. 

My background in finance, knowledge of Wellesley’s particular financial situation through recent work on the Select Board and the Audit Committee, and experience of Wellesley’s town government are a strong foundation to continue to serve the board.  

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Townsman Q&A

Brief summary of your background and experience

 

Originally from Scotland, I graduated college with a degree in accounting and started training as a chartered accountant (the UK equivalent of a CPA). I moved to Boston in 1995 to further my accounting career with PWC, one of the world’s largest accounting firms. At PWC I specialized in financial services - primarily auditing mutual funds and banks.

 

I moved to Wellesley in 1998 and since then have lived and raised my children in the town where my husband grew up. As we started our family, I also started a new career in civic volunteering, as a neighborhood advocate on the redevelopment of Linden Square, treasurer for several different organizations and as co-president for Wellesley High School’s PTSO.  I was elected to Town Meeting in 2018, and appointed to the town’s Audit Committee that same year, ultimately becoming its chair. 

 

Most recently, I was elected to the Select Board in September. Since joining the Board I have been fully immersed in budget and fiscal policy discussions. In my Select Board role, I have also joined the town’s Mobility Committee and have been engaged in this important work as we look to support alternative modes of transport and reduce Wellesley’s carbon footprint. [200 words!]

 

Why are you running?

 

I am running for re-election to the Select Board in order to continue the work I have begun.  I joined the Board to serve broadly, and to bring my unique skills and attributes to the Board at this challenging time. I am an accountant and have served as chair of the Audit Committee, giving me valuable experience and insight. As a Town Meeting Member, I have a good understanding of Wellesley’s complex town government. My working style is persistent, collaborative engagement. I am a listener and a relationship-builder, two crucial qualities for a successful Board member, especially at this moment. 

 

Where do you stand on the question of replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day? 

As I learned more about the movement to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day, I came to understand why a national holiday of celebration was overdue. Moreover, I learned that Columbus Day has become synonymous with colonialism and the end of a way of life for indigenous people. While I am very sympathetic to the Italian American community’s desire to maintain their celebration, I feel that America is changing - and we should celebrate all immigrants for the sacrifices they make and the benefits they bring. I would support celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day in October and finding another day to celebrate all immigrants.

 

 

If there were one issue that you wish had been handled differently in the town over the past year, what would it be? Why?

 

The past year saw an incredible engagement of citizens in elections. I wish we had capacity at that time to seize that interest and channel it into long-term involvement in local government and increased participation in local elections. The opportunity is still available and I would love to find new and creative ways to reach out to younger voters, new residents and long-term residents who have not previously been involved. Perhaps a modern “Town Government 101” road show and internship programs for younger residents?  Let's reinvent how we engage residents in town government and local elections.

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Railroad and Tailby Lot Q&A

 

Response to questions from Save Wellesley Square

 

1)    What is your position regarding the proposed real estate developments for the Tailby and Railroad parking lots?  If the proposal was to be approved, what do you think will be some of the positive and negative aspects of the development?

 

Since there is ongoing construction at Delanson Circle and Weston Road so close to these lots, I feel it is necessary to finalize and digest these projects and understand the impact of full occupancy of these developments on traffic patterns in the neighborhood. Putting a pause on planning and development of the lots at this time has the added benefit of letting us see how we emerge from the current pandemic, and what the effect will be on patterns of commuting behaviour. We have built a relationship with the developer who has worked well with the town and our residents - lets keep investing in this relationship and keep dialog going in the meantime.

 

Overall, I am interested in furthering the development of these lots at a scale and style that is appropriate for Wellesley. The reasons I am generally supportive of this development are that it is adjacent to mass transit, is very much in line with our Unified Plan and Housing Production Plan, and it is in close proximity to our downtown. Density of housing so close to our downtown is one more positive step we can consider in reinvigorating the area and supporting our merchants. 

 

Of course, redevelopment means change which is challenging as well as rewarding. The construction itself will need close management and discussions with the contractors and neighbors to limit, as much as possible, the noise and disruption that comes with all construction projects.  Fortunately, the town and the Select Board staff have significant experience in developing construction management plans on similar scale projects all throughout town. 

 

More residential units will mean an increase in traffic. The junction of Crest Road, Central Street and Railroad Ave is currently challenging, and could really benefit from an overhaul as part of this project and redevelopment. With careful analysis of traffic studies, creative design and resident engagement there is an real opportunity to improve this intersection.

 

 

2)    Considering the detrimental health effects associated with pollution emitted by trains and other forms of automotive transportation (cars, buses, and trucks), how would you describe the efforts by the town to build high-density residential units in this area?  In our opinion, the town should consider these very important issues when providing support to private developers by offering advantageous conditions to develop town land to place environmental concerns at the forefront of its policies.

See response below

 

3)     The neighborhood delimited by Weston Road, Route 9 and Linden Street has been the subject of overdevelopment as a result of several multi-residential properties over the last couple of years. For example, construction in Delanson Circle (opposite the Tailby parking lot) has just started. What is your opinion regarding the consequences that these developments will have in the neighborhood? In particular we are concerned about safety and increased traffic.  Since state legislation encourages housing developments with easy access to mass transportation infrastructure, what is your position regarding the development of town-owned properties in other areas such as Wellesley Farms?

 

For me, it makes sense to answer questions 2) and 3) together as I see lots of intersecting ideas - so here goes!

 

You are certainly correct that the neighbourhood you mention has changed a lot. I moved to our home in this neighborhood in 1998 when there was perhaps one set of traffic lights the entire length of Linden Street, there was a lumberyard and an oil distribution business on Linden Street, and the grocery store was on the opposite side of Linden Street. I was very involved in the redevelopment of Linden Square and found that my voice and that of my neighbors could be heard and was valued. I really encourage you to continue to engage in constructive dialog with the town as we move through this process. Local government works best with strong citizen engagement, not only through public hearings but also by attending and engaging in conversation at Select Board and planning meetings all along the way. I know from my own experience that something like this is a long conversation, but so worth the effort.

 

Despite the fact that there has been a LOT of change on Linden Street and we, the neighbors, were nervous about those changes, I feel there has been incredible benefits resulting from redevelopment.  That doesn't mean construction was entirely pleasant or that I have not noticed the increase in traffic but I do really appreciate the new Linden Square and its amenities. I will say my behaviour has changed as my surroundings have changed.  I walk to Linden Street and downtown Wellesley destinations a lot more than I did in 2006 when this all began, and I feel really good about that.

 

I recently joined the Select Board and my work assignment includes the “Mobility Committee” - a committee formed as a recommended strategy of our Unified Plan to address better access for multimodal transportation. To that end we are currently working on a “Sustainable Mobility Visioning Plan”. Lowering our greenhouse gas emissions by reducing reliance on single occupancy vehicles is an important goal of the committee and critical focus on the development of the visioning plan. The plan is intended to make non vehicular travel more attractive, by looking at safe routes to schools, shared use paths, sidewalk connectivity, reimagined sidewalks  and improving connectivity of trails among other things.  Again I would encourage your group to participate in soon-to-be-scheduled public hearings designed to get community ideas, concerns and feedback.

 

Having higher density development near mass transit, and indeed close to our commercial district, would be highly aligned with the goals of the Mobility Committee. Concepts such as “the 15 minute village” really encourage housing within easy walking distance of critical amenities.  As I live in this area, this is certainly something I can attest to.  I feel so lucky to live within walking distance of the grocery store, library, Town Hall, downtown shopping and restaurants, the Police Department, the town trail network, parks and playing fields and the schools.  While Wellesley Farms is also adjacent to mass transit, and some retail and restaurants, it does not have the same closeness to the density of these and other amenities adjacent to Wellesley Square. That being said, I would certainly be open to hearing more about development opportunities near any mass transit location.

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Campaign Team

Stacy Braatz - Co-chair

Wendy Paul - Co-chair
Matthew McKay

Christine Mizzi

Phyllis Theermann

Todd Himstead - Treasurer

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