But they’re pretending they’re not
It’s pretty hard to get lost in Wellesley Square, and this comes from a guy who you don’t want to follow anywhere other than on this website and social media.
But the town back in 2016, armed with a $10K Massachusetts Downtown Initiative grant, whipped up a committee and hatched a plan for a Branding and Wayfinding Project. The goal was come up with consistent signage for Wellesley Square as well as Wellesley Hills and Lower Falls, in part to help pedestrians and motorists get around, in part to promote local business and the community at large.
The plan made it through the gauntlet of the Design Review Board and the Board of Selectmen in early 2017.
I’ve checked in on the wayfinding project here and there since then, and figured it probably just got lost in the shuffle of other big town efforts like the Unified Plan. Or that maybe town officials took a look at parts of Washington Street and determined there are already too many damned signs polluting the view and distracting drivers beyond their cellphones (including all those cheap yard signs that have become the scourge of suburbia).
But upon checking recently, I was surprised to learn that the wayfinding plan lives. Indeed, the plan stayed intact but the signs were put on the back burner for a period due to higher priority issues and staffing changes in both the Planning Department and Selectmen’s Office.
Signs could now emerge by the end of summer, according to both the town and its design consultant.
Into the wayback machine
The town hired Favermann Design in 2016 to study the landscape and come up with a plan following tours, workshops and other interactions with town reps. Favermann released a report in late 2017 titled “Branding and Wayfinding Project, Town of Wellesley, MA,” shortly thereafter.
According to the report: “Early on in the process, it was decided that a tagline or slogan was not necessary.”
Among the marching orders, however, was this:
“Whatever the design would eventually be, from the outset of the process, it was clear to the committee members that the design had to reflect the upscale quality of life of the community. The design needed to be elegant and functional expressing a sense of the character of Town of Wellesley. Early in the process, the Planning Department and the committee wanted the brand to be able to work throughout the Town of Wellesley, not just for Wellesley Square commercial district.”
Familiar Wellesley images, from Town Hall to the Sprague Memorial Clock Tower, were considered for incorporation into the branding design. Also in the plans were site-specific signs, such as for landmarks, trails, parking, and gateways. Finding funds for information kiosks was discussed, too.
Images shared in the Favermann report and seen in this post depict the sorts of signs you might see soon.
“I think that the wayfinding plan that was developed is a comprehensive plan that successfully designates shopping, parking, transportation and natural resources,” says Rob Skolnick of E.A. Davis, and a member of the wayfinding committee “The consistency of the plan is attractive, and creates a true branding for the Town that can easily be incorporated throughout the Town’s other business districts over time.”
OK Wellesley, show us the way…