This curious case begins with an emailed photo we received in mid-December from a couple of flabbergasted residents of a nearby town. The picture shows a car seemingly parked in a crosswalk on Washington Street in front of Blue Ginger in Wellesley. The photo taker wrote: “Absolutely no excuses could be used in this case. Sunny clear day, crosswalk markings visible, and snow shoveled at crossing. Just a total disregard for pedestrians, and the law.”
An open and shut case? At first blush, I had to admit it looked that way, but having recently watched the BBC/PBS “Sherlock” TV series starring Benedict Cumberbatch, my intuition was not to jump to any conclusions. After all, my name is Mr. Swellesley. It is my business to know what other people do not know.
The Adventures of Mr. Swellesley
I’d gotten used to the white stripes being there for however long, even though it had crossed my mind that they were awfully close to the brick crosswalk at the intersection of Church and Washington Streets. I always found myself braking when approaching the crosswalk in my car, having seen those sated with Ming’s Bings and Butterfish happily saunter across at night after dinner.
So I swung by the scene of the alleged crime one morning shortly before Christmas to take a closer look and investigate the matter. I knew a case of this particular nature this was going to require some serious ratiocination, not to mention literal street smarts.
*Indeed, parking space markings were on the street — on either side of the crosswalk’s end in front of Blue Ginger — where that car in the photo had been stationed.
*There were no such markings at the other end of the crosswalk, which has faded to a ghostly white, on the side of the street housing a funeral home-turned-real estate office and those barren Belclare retail spaces.
*There were no curb cuts on either side, but I deduced that snow was cleared from the sidewalk so as to allow access to the crosswalk.
*I couldn’t tell if there was a meter dedicated for the space in front of Blue Ginger because one of those green holiday Free Parking hoods was on the closest one. I dared not remove it, but could feel two meter heads under the material.
Hmmm… I scratched my chin, adjusted my deerhunter and pondered the situation. I then pestered a passerby to ask him what he thought. He agreed it was puzzling, then scurried off to catch his train and avoid any follow-up questions.
I figured Scotland Yard wouldn’t have a clue, so I turned my investigation closer to home.
Blue Ginger restaurant General Manager Armando Carlos Dias told me that crosswalk was put down when the Belclare complex construction was nearing completion. “It is quite confusing to people because there is a metered parking spot right over it. Many guests have asked us if it is a valid parking spot and we have no idea either,” he explained.
My next course of action was to reach out to town officials, though I feared they might not want to deal with such perceived trifles and would simply stonewall me.
Wait…did someone say stone wall?
Wellesley’s parking clerk said she would look into the matter and requested photographic evidence, which I eagerly supplied. But I also contacted that clever Wellesley Police Department, which informed me that the Board of Selectmen’s office confirmed the crosswalk was temporarily installed by the Belclare team while repairing a — stone wall!
My head started to spin and I flashed back to sitting in traffic jams created by the construction work just as the school year started this past fall.
Wellesley Deputy Director Terry Connolly followed up to tell me that the developer was putting the contractor in touch with the town and would have a plan to remove the crosswalk . Black road paint would probably be used, leaving only a phantom crosswalk lurking beneath the surface.
No need to credit us with unraveling this mystery or prompting a resolution. It was really all quite elementary.