Yes, perambulation is a big word, but we feel confident you can handle it.
So does the Town of Wellesley, which has included the agenda item “Vote to Designate Town Engineer for Town Perambulation” on its Select Board agenda for Monday, Nov. 22.
The Select Board will have its work cut out to outdo last Monday’s meeting, so it looks like it might not even be trying by including that item on the agenda.
But let’s not dismiss what this is all about. After consulting with our resident wordsmith Mrs. Swellesley and various online dictionaries on what perambulation even means [“to travel over or through especially on foot or to make an official inspection of (a boundary) on foot” per Merriam-Webster], I went to Town Engineer David Hickey to verify what it means for Wellesley.
“Perambulation must be one of the State’s oldest and maybe most arcane laws,” he says. “I believe it is MGL, Chapter 42, Section 2 and it requires towns to mark, and renew by initialing with a date and special paint the Town’s markers on a 5-year cycle. The law is specific enough to require that at least 2 Select Board members or their written designee do the marking, and further a record be made with our Town Clerk as well as with those of the abutting Town Clerks and Select Board.”
Last thing we need is a border war with Natick, Needham, Newton, or Weston.
Just to make sure things are official, Hickey says the town has gotten into the habit of publishing a small book (embedded below) to document the process. It includes good historical stuff like this:
1. N-N-W WM The corner of Wellesley, Newton and Needham is in the center of the Charles River and is unmarked. The witness mark was a wooden post in the center of an old dam or gate across the mouth of the reservoir channel and was 150’ to the northwest of the actual corner along the Wellesley and Needham line. This location is now under a modern wooden foot bridge and there is no longer any evidence of the dam or post.
Finally, I’ve seen synonyms for perambulate that include mosey, promenade, ramble, roam, and stroll. If you happen to see an official looking guy doing that along the edges of Wellesley, it could just be Dave Hickey.