10 Split decision at Perrin Park
The town came up with rules to divvy up Perrin Park between dog owners and those who want to use the park without worrying about dogs chasing them and their kids, but without a lot of hand wringing and civil disobedience. Meanwhile, regulars at other open spaces in town, such as Centennial Park, reported major influxes of dog walkers.
9. Baseball comes full circle in Wellesley
Family and friends paid their respects to Dom DiMaggio, the former Red Sox star whose funeral was held in Wellesley in May (he married a Wellesley woman). Separately, Wellesley native Nate Freiman furthered his hopes of making it to the majors when he was drafted by the San Diego Padres out of Duke University. And Wellesley Little League players found out that they’d be switching to from wood to metal bats, a move some say will improve the quality of play and that others fear will lead to injury. Meanwhile, a mural of Fenway Park went up at the Upham School.
8. Wellesley downtown storefronts empty, refill
The disappearance of downtown businesses such as Kaps, SCORE and Betsy’s emptied out a slew of Wellesley Square storefronts. Fortunately, as the year neared its end a new lineup of businesses, including the Milestone restaurant and Upper Crust Pizzeria, were getting ready to move in.
7. Standalone senior center on the way
While plenty of details need to be worked out, the tearing down of the American Legion building on Washington St. paves the way for the proposed senior center, which is likely to be a big topic of conversation at the spring Town Meeting. At this past spring’s Town Meeting, members approved $600,000 for planning and design, which naturally calls for a giant room to play Wii bowling and tennis.
6. Grossman’s lot drama nears end
Neighbors upset with initial plans for a housing, retail and office development at the old Grossman’s lot in Lower Falls came to terms with National Development and the project could see the light of day in 2010. Though it looks like the project will now focus on senior housing, alleviating some of the neighbors’ parking concerns. It’s only a matter of time though until a group of Wellesleyites rears up its heads and fights to keep the Grossman’s sign intact for “historical purposes.”
5. Rte. 9/16 bridge re-opens, but job lingers
The bridge, which had been under repairs since 2003 (though it seems like 1903), finally re-opened in February. But the story isn’t quite over, as additional work still needs to be completed and no one seems to be able to get a straight answer from the state on when the project will really be done. It’s web site is now threatening completion in early 2010 and the Townsman recently reported that the date has been pushed back to June 2010.
4. Rough year for Wellesley real estate
Neighbors, the town and developer Michael Connolly continued their struggle, as Connolly got his Wellesley Commons project underway at Hillside Rd. and Washington St., only to have it stymied during the fall for assorted violations. On top of that, the words Crime Scene were painted on a wall at the site. It’s making the Grossman’s lot look positively fabulous.
An overturned excavation vehicle in October provided some more drama on a ledge overlooking the Wellesley Hills train station where homes are being built.
Meanwhile, Wellesley wasn’t immune to an overall down housing market across much of the country and state. We even spied a Foreclosure sign in town.
3. Wellesley gets sick
The town suffered a series of school shutdowns, including Dana Hall in May after about 100 students and staff called in sick with flu-like symptoms and Babson College in March after the Norovirus tore through campus. A Wellesley Middle School trip to Canobie Lake Park was nixed after school and health officials decided students might run into too many germy rides. H1N1 cases were confirmed at Wellesley College and Wellesley public schools, and vaccines have been in high demand, with town officials doling them out as supplies become available.
2. u30 Bandits strike
Thieves went where the money is and robbed a handful of local banks, including the Bank of America at 342 Washington St. in Wellesley in March and April. But the police nabbed the so-called U30 bandits — who were able to get in and out of banks in under 30 seconds — in July after a robbery of a Needham bank. But not before they created quite a scare in town with bomb threats and armed robberies. It turned out to be a rather busy year for crime in town, with a series of car break-ins and even bomb scares at the middle school.
1. Ground broken on new Wellesley High School building
Town muckety-mucks donned the obligatory hardhats, got themselves a swell holiday card photo and tossed the first shovels full of dirt marking the start of the estimated $130 million new Wellesley High School project slated to be done in 2012. Those pushing for the project had to overcome resistance from those in town who wanted to renovate and retain historical pieces of the school building rather than start from scratch, and address concerns from outside outfits such as the Mass Historical Commission.