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.
There is one candidate running for the single open position on the Recreation Commission. The Recreation Commission is made up of five elected members. The mission of Rec is to provide recreational and educational opportunities to all Wellesley residents, regardless of age, ability, or means, and to review policy, programs, procedures, and the fees structure.
Although the race is uncontested, we’re always interested in the priorities and goals of Wellesley’s elected officials. We invited candidate Nathalie deFontnouvelle to answer a few questions about her qualifications and priorities for the Town of Wellesley.
The Swellesley Report: Why are you running for a seat on the Rec Commission?
Nathalie deFontnouvelle: My three (now grown-up) children have greatly benefited from the outstanding programs offered by the Recreation Department where they learned important life skills. I am running because I am interested to assist the Recreation Commission in pursuing its mission to offer our community recreational and educational activities that ensure a healthy life style – crucial to our physical and mental well-being. My background in international business and early childhood
education combined with many volunteer activities teaching and coaching will help me in overseeing the development and implementation of the recreational programs.
The Recreation Department is actively branching out and partnering with other town departments, schools, non-profits, and I am looking forward to further expanding these joint initiatives. The Recreation Department is the bedrock of our community. Its mission is to ensure the cohesiveness and stability of our social fabric by keeping us all physically and mentally healthy.
SR: What if any changes would you like to see take place at Morses Pond?
Nathalie deFontnouvelle: In 2018, the Recreation Department, with the support of the Community Preservation Funds, hired Weston & Sampson to redesign MOPO to address the need in updating the facilities, redesigning the layout, and enhancing the overall environment. There were three public hearings in August and December 2019, and this February. We are very fortunate to have this engineering and environmental service firm undertake this project. MOPO will become an enhanced center of recreation where our residents can enjoy the beauty of nature, play, relax and socialize. It will be our outdoor community center!
SR: What’s your take on the need for more lighted fields in Wellesley?
Nathalie deFontnouvelle: The Natural Resource Commission (NRC) and the Playing Field Task Force (PFTF) are actively considering this matter. The Lights Subcommittee recently submitted to the NRC their feasibility report. It is currently being reviewed and is a high priority.
SR: How do you think the Boston Sports Institute has turned out as a resource for Wellesley residents?
Nathalie deFontnouvelle: This multi-use recreation center isn’t under the authority of the Recreation Department. Edge Sport Group is leasing the land from the town, and is fully in control of its operations. Our school teams have preferred ice and pool time, and the public has access to recreational skating and pool time.
SR: What role should the Wellesley Rec Commission play in mental health?
Nathalie deFontnouvelle: In 2014, Community Investors (CI) spearheaded after-school enrichment programs at the middle school to address the need for play and relaxation. The Wellesley Recreation Department is actively collaborating with CI in developing these successful programs. Mental health is definitely a top priority. I recently spoke to Matt Chin, Director of the Recreation Department, who emphasized his continued commitment to provide high-quality after-school programs in middle
school, and expand them to high school. Helping our young generation relax, find healthy outlets in coping with stress, and lead balanced lives is a matter of great importance.
Ensuring quality mental health for all in our town requires a joint collaboration with all the town departments and schools; it is a complex issue which needs to be addressed at many levels. For example, improving our air quality by reducing carbon emissions from our cars and houses and planting more trees has an impact on our mental health. So does promoting a healthy diet and physical activity, as body and mind are interconnected. Having time to play and socialize after school and on weekends as a family contributes to our well-being. Promoting multi-generational activities is mutually enriching and fulfilling. As a
community, we are all responsible for each other’s well-being.
SR: The town has responded to demand for pickleball by providing new venues to play. Do you see any other new sports or activities on the rise in Wellesley?
Nathalie deFontnouvelle: The Recreation Department is very responsive to new ideas and requests, and will consider to its full extent any new proposal submitted by our residents. Staying active at all age is highly beneficial to our physical and mental health. The town is dedicated in offering a variety of programs where all residents can try out new hobbies, sports, learn new skills, socialize and just have fun. I am curious to see if the new 2020 Summer Olympics sport of indoor climbing will generate some interest. There are several indoor climbing facilities nearby we could potentially partner with. Note that it is an excellent sport for all ages. It helps develop core strength, balance, patience, concentration, and is gentle on the joints. Indoor climbing might become our next popular sport from kids to baby boomers, and even seniors.
SR: Is there anything else you’d like to say that I haven’t covered?
Nathalie deFontnouvelle: I encourage all residents to be actively involved in our town life by attending public hearings, sitting in some meetings, submitting ideas, checking out the Wellesley Town website which posts all upcoming town events and meetings, joining one of the many support and non-profit groups, and taking advantage of the many volunteer opportunities in town. Our community relies on each one of us to make Wellesley an even better place to thrive.