As I pass the ever-increasing number of empty stores on Central Street and Church Street in what once was the most charming of town centers, I keep wondering…Why? Of course I have heard over the years that the rents were too high for independent (not chain) stores to be able to survive. But why isn’t the Town recognizing the danger of losing the beautiful heart of our town? Why isn’t there some measure of accommodation by the landlords? (I remember in the height of COVID hearing from one restaurant owner that his landlord hadn’t budged at all on the rent, and in fact his customers chipped in to keep his 30-year business going.)
Why hasn’t the town stopped using the parking meters in that area? Is the income THAT great as to justify the deterrent to shopping in the Square?
My recent thought is… oh no… was the destruction of a graceful, classic mid-century modern library and its replacement by the mausoleum-like ham-handed blocks of the new library a precedent for those wanting to raze our wonderful, more diminutive historic buildings around the Square? In THIS town, that would be a possibility. The Town in which the razing of the Wellesley Inn just couldn’t wait, and its history from Civil War days, its gorgeous arts and crafts wooden panelling were of no value. Even for some years after that, a sign was in the window saying, “What do you want here?” It is still empty.
If anyone has any clues about this depressing scene downtown, do share them. To me, Linden Street is always too crowded, free parking or not, it is not pedestrian-friendly, and certainly not charming. Our real estate values, at least in the College area of town, in my opinion, are linked to the fact that we still have the precious experience of being able to “walk downtown” and interact with our local stores, as a community does (as in Needham, Natick…) I’m sure there is more information about the fact that even chain stores like The Gap, CVS are leaving… of course, following the trend set by the independent stores who couldn’t afford to stay.
The emptying of Wellesley Square and downtown was avoidable. It makes no sense fiscally, and denigrates our town. So, again, why? And at the least, can the Town just stop using the parking meters?