The Town of Wellesley depends on the active participation of its citizens in governance of the Town. Wellesley has 11 Boards and Committees on the ballot at the Annual Town election each year in March. The 2020 election will be held on March 17.
Thomas Taylor is the single candidate running for the open position on the Planning Board. The Planning Board is a six-member elected Board. The role of the Planning Board is to make short and long term decisions related to land use in the Town of Wellesley through the judicious use of municipal planning and project review. The Planning Board is responsible for the maintenance and update of the Town’s Zoning Bylaws and Zoning Map, divisions of land, and the review of large-scale projects with Town-wide impacts.
Although the race is uncontested, we’re always interested in the priorities and goals of Wellesley’s elected officials. We invited Taylor to answer a few questions about his qualifications and priorities for the Town of Wellesley.
The Swellesley Report: What is your background and what qualifies you for this position?
Thomas Taylor: I am a 24-year Town resident who raised two children through Wellesley Public Schools. I care deeply about Wellesley and am excited to give back. I have been very involved in town life since moving here, including: softball and soccer coach, faith community leader, school volunteer and a mentor for first-gen WHS college-goers (Wellesley Connects). My career has included 20 years of management consulting and 15+ years as COO/President at several start-ups. I have an undergraduate Engineering degree and an MBA in Finance & Strategy. I am a pragmatic thinker who will make decisions objectively on the merits of what is best for Wellesley.
SR: If elected, what do you hope to accomplish during your tenure on the Planning Board?
Thomas Taylor: Help manage us through, and past, the MA 10% affordable housing mandate – allowing Planning and other town boards to focus on building the 21 st century Wellesley we want, rather than reacting to 40B developments. I also want to ensure upcoming projects (e.g., Tailby, North 40) are done well and in a manner that adds to both the vibrancy and the fiscal soundness of our town.
SR: There currently are a great number of empty retail storefronts throughout Wellesley, including Wellesley Square. How do you propose Wellesley maintain a vibrant downtown area?
Thomas Taylor: A lot of variables in this equation, but some initial thoughts:
A greater mix of living space in, or within easy walk of, the downtown area would significantly help foster a vibrant business area.
It’s also important to ensure zoning restrictions aren’t an undue burden on potential retailers.
SR: What are your thoughts about senior housing and affordable housing in Wellesley? Can the town expand its housing options and if so, how?
Thomas Taylor: Two things I am concerned about are the relative paucity of options for most seniors and empty nesters to stay in town, and younger families to move into town. The Planning Board can be instrumental in steering new developments to ensure they are a plus:
housing stock we need and want,
a financial benefit to town, and
projects that fit the scale and character of Wellesley.
SR: What is your hot-button issue?
Thomas Taylor: I have a hot-button word: BALANCE. I think Planning is about striking a comfortable balance between our goals (e.g., affordability, inclusivity, preservation, character) and maintaining Wellesley’s financial strength. Wellesley has historically managed itself with foresight and balance, and I hope to continue this tradition.
SR: Regarding the Unified Plan and the Housing Production Plan, what do you think is a top priority there (or more than one), and how should it be addressed?
Thomas Taylor: Both the Unified Plan and the Housing Production Plan are invaluable resources and guides for the Planning Board because they codify the interests and priorities of citizens. A personal priority, as noted earlier, is helping assure Wellesley remains a town where retirees can readily remain in town and where younger families can feasibly move in and become Wellesley’s future.
SR: How should the North 40 site be utilized?
Thomas Taylor: I don’t feel Wellesley needs to rush and immediately develop the North 40; because I don’t think there is yet a consensus, and because we don’t have many green spaces left in Town. I think a solution will present itself over time. Senior Housing, for example, may be a good use for portions of the tract. But like any project, the details matter. I also hope the town can retain a significant part of the North 40 for valuable green space.
SR: Your thoughts on the Tailby and Railroad parking lot redevelopment?
Thomas Taylor: See earlier comments about affordable young-family entry points and stay-in-town options for seniors / empty nesters. Any project like Tailby begins with an assessment of town needs and objectives for the space. If a developer’s proposal meets those needs, without adversely impacting traffic, I think it would be a bonus to the Town. We don’t have many more spaces like this that can be leveraged to achieve current and future housing needs.
SR: Is there anything else you’d like to say that I haven’t covered in the above questions?
Thomas Taylor: Vote on March 17!
SR: How should voters reach you if they want more information?
Thomas Taylor: firstname.lastname@example.org