Touring Wellesley Square with Congressman Auchincloss

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.

Congressman Jake Auchincloss, Wellesley
Congressman Jake Auchincloss, Town of Wellesley Assistant Executive Director Amy Frigulietti, and Charles River Charles River Regional Chamber president Greg Reibman walk through Wellesley Square. During the tour, Frigulietti discussed the ongoing Wellesley Square planning process and what residents would like to see in the area. She said initial brainstorming ideas from residents have included wider sidewalks, more parking, less parking, improved lighting, and planters. “We call it our Amenities Package. We’re looking to reinvest in the whole Square and kind of do a facelift of the Square.”


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.

Congressman Jake Auchincloss, Wellesley
Rock the Spectrum owners Sherley Brice (left) and Melissa Defay hosted the start of the tour in the air conditioned lobby of the sensory-based gym that provides a welcoming, inclusive environment for kids and families. Brice emphasized their gym is not only for children on the spectrum. “Our philosophy is that we will be patient,” she said.



Congressman Jake Auchincloss, Wellesley
Gino Capabianco of Dellaria Salon regaled the group with tales of a lifetime of taking public transportation.



Congressman Jake Auchincloss, Wellesley
On the challenges of increased costs associated with the restaurant business, Laughing Monk co-owner Dome Nakapakorn (second from left) said that the special ingredients he and his team source can be found, “but we are paying a lot more for them now.”

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.

Congressman Jake Auchincloss, Wellesley


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