The Wellesley Natural Resources Commission (NRC) vernal pool boardwalk and viewing platforms project is about 90% finished, the stone dust path laid, the major construction of the boardwalk itself built and ready to receive visitors. Still to go: final grading of the start and end points of the 500-foot project to ensure accessibility for users of all abilities including those with limited mobility, young children, and users with strollers. The DPW is expected to return to finish up the final grading of the stone path where it meets the boardwalk in the next couple of weeks. Once that’s done, all comers will be able to enjoy enhanced access to the vernal pool and experience wildlife viewing at the pool and the adjacent wetlands.
You can pay a visit to frogs, salamanders and more at the vernal pool by accessing the boardwalk from the north corner of the Weston Road Community Garden next to 148 Weston Rd. across from Howe St. or from Turner Rd., which is located off Weston Rd.
Natural Resources Commission Director Brandon Schmitt says, “Final stages of the project will involve planting of some additional native species (we already successfully transplanted some hay scented ferns from the middle school to make room for pollinator plants there), and invasive species removal will be an ongoing challenge. Volunteers for the invasive species removal are much appreciated.” Drop an email to Schmitt at [email protected] to volunteer.
The project was funded via Community Preservation Act (CPA) monies. The CPA is funded through a local option surcharge on property tax bills and a state match on those surcharges. The Wellesley Community Preservation Committee (CPC) made the recommendation to Town Meeting to utilize CPC funds for the boardwalk, and the project as a whole was overseen by the NRC. The boardwalk was built by twenty volunteers who worked 563 hours. Wellesley Conservation Council members were among the workers. The Wetlands Protection Committee and the Design Review Board approved the project ahead of its mid-December 2018 start date.
The stone dust path sections were installed by the DPW in Fall 2018. From there, the project was a volunteer-led effort.
Construction was halted in the spring so as not to affect the reptilian and amphibian residents of the pond, and then picked up again after the peepers stopped peeping.
The total cost of the project was budgeted at $65,000, and is expected to come in under that amount.
The funding was completed in two stages. The CPC funded an initial $15,000 for design in FY18 and another $50,000 for construction this fiscal year. The design phase was completed free of charge by Wellesley resident Bill Giezentanner. Since Giezentanner did that work pro bono, the initial 15k CPC design appropriation was then applied to construction. Remaining funds from the $65k originally budgeted funds will be returned to the CPC. Schmitt estimates the returned funds will be in the neighborhood of $15 – $25k once expenses for the DPW work, signage, and additional native plantings are figured into the total figures.
Schmitt says, “The volunteers who completed this project should be incredibly proud. Through their sweat, sore muscles and often a little blood, they have created a truly special place. The boardwalk offers a place for reverie and education, and highlights the importance of this resource and the other vernal pools in Town. The project also demonstrates what is possible when a few dedicated individuals are willing to brave the elements, have fun, and create a great asset for the community. I think it really just emphasizes Wellesley’s greatest assets — its open spaces and people. Watch for the ribbon cutting and grand opening this fall. In the meantime, plan your visit to the boardwalk soon.”