U.S. Representative Jake Auchincloss stopped into town yesterday for a short walking tour of Wellesley Square to learn about the changing landscape and challenges of the “downtown” shopping district. Organized by the Charles River Regional Chamber, the tour group included the Congressman; Greg Reibman and Tracey Aldrich Antaya of the Chamber; Town of Wellesley Assistant Executive Director Amy Frigulietti; and myself.
The small size of the group allowed the conversation to flow naturally as Auchincloss took the opportunity to speak with the owners of several businesses in the Square. Topics included:
- Challenges of holding on during COVID
- Parking—Demian Wendrow, Wellesley Square Merchants Association president and owner of London Harness and Tumi, said customers always want more parking. Auchincloss, a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, countered with, “Constituents are always going to say they want more parking, but what they really mean is they want to make it easy to find a space, and those are two different things.” He suggested working toward finding cheaper long-term parking away from the downtown core.
- Town efforts—Frigulietti talked about the $50K grant the town has used in part so far for the town-wide Wonderful Wellesley initiative, and the $100K grant that was used to put together the parklet in Wellesley Square at the intersection of Central and Cross Streets, in between where the Gap was and Ardan Medspa + Salon operates.
Touring Wellesley Square has its charms, but when it’s time to cut loose it’s hard to beat a good round of dodgeball at Bates School with the Community Investors program, a local 501(c)(3). Student participants in the program’s PlayRox Youth Wellness Initiative didn’t go easy on the Congressman.
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