By Elizabeth Baxter Butcher (special to The Swellesley Report)
A few weeks ago a friend said, “Did you know they are planning to pave the Brook Path?
It’s going to be eight-feet wide asphalt across the whole path.”
“Oh no.” I said, “That would ruin the whole thing.”
“I know.” she said.
As a fan and frequent user of the ‘Brook Path’ I decided to look into this. I found almost everything I wanted to know about the project on the Town of Wellesley Fuller Brook Park Improvement Project web page. The rest I learned from talking to people more knowledgeable than I. Here’s the story, as I understand it:
The Fuller Brook Park commonly known as the ‘Brook Path’ is the 23-acre park that runs parallel to Washington Street from Dover Road to Maugus Avenue. The Wellesley Natural Resources Commission (NRC) has known for some time that the infrastructure, drainage and vegetation on the ‘Brook Path’ needed improvement. In 2003 the NRC
commissioned Halvorson Design Partners to create a Fuller Brook Park Preservation Master Plan. In January of 2010 the NRC presented the Master Plan to the public. It is excellent reading. I learned a great deal about the history, purpose and landscape of the park. It was also a compelling argument for structural, drainage and vegetation
In the “Action recommendations | Paths” section of the Master Plan it says “An eight-foot wide path throughout the park is necessary due to the multi-use nature of the path” (p.50). The path would be covered in 3-1/2” asphalt (p.50). My friend was right – there it was in black and white. This seemed extreme to me. Surely there must be ways of
protecting the infrastructure and improving drainage while allowing for a more natural looking and variant surfacing? Currently the 2.5-mile path is covered in asphalt, gravel, board walk, dirt and grass.
Before getting all worked up, I continued my research. I read the Project Memo of Understanding issued by the Fuller Brook Park Coordinating Committee (FBPCC) in April of 2010. The memo acknowledges that at the January 2010 presentation the public had some doubts about the Master Plan. It specifically mentions people’s desire “to not homogenize the path along its entire length. Allowing variance in path width and surfacing was repeated input.” The memo goes on to recommend revisiting this and other issues. That sounded promising.
So where are we today? The good news is nothing seems to be set in eight-foot asphalt. The town has retained Pressley Associates, a landscape architecture firm to shape a plan for the preservation and improvement of the path.
Last week I encountered a woman standing on the Brook Path in the rain handing out flyers. It read:
- The Fuller Brook Park Coordinating Committee really wants to hear from YOU…
We are still in the early design stage and NOW is the time your input can make a difference.
It sounds like the NRC really does want to know what people think. Let them know how you use the ‘Brook Path’ and what you want it to look like. Send them an email at: [email protected].
Or attend the following meetings:
Preliminary Design Alternatives:
Wednesday, Oct. 27 at 7:30 PM, Great Hall, Wellesley Town Hall
Thursday, Oct. 28 at 9:30 AM, Juliani Room, Wellesley Town Hall
Sunday, Nov. 7 1 PM, Police Station
Preferred Design Alternatives:
Wednesday, Dec. 15 at 7:30 PM, Great Hall, Wellesley Town Hall
Thursday, Dec. 16 at 9:30 AM, Juliani Room, Wellesley Town Hall
With any luck this collaborative process will result in an improved Brook Path for all.
Elizabeth Baxter Butcher lives in Wellesley and co-authors the blog Manners for Modern Mothers