Google has validated the existence of Wellesley’s Oakland Street, home to MassBay Community College, the Elizabeth Seton Residence and a slew of homeowners. As we reported over the weekend, the street had been replaced on Google Maps for at least the past week by Wellesley Avenue, much to the chagrin of residents, whose pizza deliveries and carpools were messed up. In MassBay’s case, receptionists fielded calls from confused would-be visitors.
Google does provide a feedback mechanism, and in this case, got plenty of feedback from the town’s GIS department, MassBay and residents. Whether or not that’s what triggered the fix we’ll probably never know, but at least for now Oakland Street is back on the map.
The town has had success in the past getting Google attention. Wellesley GIS manager Christine Narayan wrote to us that “We were able to get Morses Pond Beach added as a Point of Interest in Google Maps last summer. Previously they only had a point for Morses Pond (in the middle of the pond) so folks were getting routed to Lake Rd. for access and it was a tight turn around when they found no beach access there (with a resident’s truck getting hit). Now that Morses Pond Beach is a POI, Google Maps routes people onto the preferable Morses Pond Access Road instead.”
Separately, over the weekend I actually got Facebook’s ear and they validated our Swellesley Facebook page. Maybe this huge tech companies aren’t so unresponsive after all.
So, where the heck did Oakland Street go?
The 1.5-mile road, which runs between Washington Street and Hunnewell Street in Wellesley Hills, has at least temporarily been obliterated by Google Maps and replaced by Wellesley Avenue. The real Wellesley Avenue, which runs by Wellesley Country Club, remains on Google Maps, too.
Oakland Street resident Ann-Mara Lanza says as of last week when she types her Wellesley address into Google Maps she gets directed either to Oakland Circle in Wellesley or Oakland Street in Needham. Lanza still knows where she’s going, but pizza shops don’t (“Took over an hour and three phone calls before they’d believe me that the delivery guy was lost.”). Her heating company, which was prepping her family’s system for the winter, had issues finding the location. A substitute carpool driver wound up in Needham, too, she says.
Lanza reached out to MassBay Community College, which also resides at the road formerly known as Oakland Street, to see if it had noticed the problem. She figured this state school might have some sway with Google. Sure enough, a MassBay receptionist said that she has been fielding phone calls, though she had no idea how to fix the problem. Lanza left a message with the school’s IT staff, too. (MassBay tells me they are trying to get ahold of someone at Google Maps to help.)
Lanza also hit up the town, as did I. Wellesley IT Director Brian DuPont says Wellesley’s GIS office has submitted a change request to Google — something Lanza has been doing daily as well (Google Maps help page). I left an inquiry with Google’s press relations team.
“[I’m] not sure why this happened, but I assume that Google made some major changes/upgrades to their mapping services in the last month or so,” DuPont says. “The last time we submitted a request was when the Town created Municipal Way through the [Municipal Light Plant and Department of Public Works] yards. It took a while (a month?), but eventually they made the change.”
It probably can’t hurt to have as many residents as possible submit the same request, DuPont adds.
Lanza says she has little faith that Google will respond quickly. Though it’s not a problem Google is unfamiliar with: A quick Google search brings up numerous complaints about this problem in other parts of the world, and gaps have also been cited with its StreetView tool for zooming in on actual homes.
“I assume that they don’t care much about one road in one town. What I really don’t understand is how this happened in the first place,” she says. “I find it very interesting how this mistake impacts life today. I’m wondering when I will stop getting packages delivered.”
Lanza also alerted Wellesley Police to the issue, and she was relieved to hear that they know all the roads and do not use Google Maps.
That confusing crosswalk traversing Washington Street in front of the former Blue Ginger restaurant has finally been covered over, months after we started asking questions about it (See: “Swellesley cracks the case of ‘The Crazy Wellesley Crosswalk'”). The black paint used to cover the white lines should fade over time and blend in with the rest of the road, making for a safer traffic situation.
The crosswalk was once for real, providing a temporary safe passage for pedestrians while the Belclare retail/condo complex was under construction and the sidewalk in front of it was inaccessible. But because the crosswalk was left there for months after the construction, pedestrians and drivers couldn’t figure out what to make of it — parking space lines on the Blue Ginger side made it look like people using the meters were parking in the middle of a crosswalk. Blue Ginger’s general manager had told us that customers were baffled by the situation, and often asked about it.
We failed to get a response from Belclare’s developer, but the town did say back in January that the developer and contractor and town were all working to resolve the issue. Here we are in September, and it looks like the case is now closed. Just in time for Belclare to start filling some of its retail space with tenants and for Smith & Wollensky to ready its new digs at the former Blue Ginger spot.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation and Wellesley Police are warning that an overnight water main break in Wellesley on Rte. 9 at the Rte. 95 exit will seriously mess up traffic on Tuesday for at least the morning commute. As of about 5AM, the the right line on Rte.9 East and the ramp to 95 South were closed.
Another big water main break has taken place in Charlestown this AM near Sullivan Square.
— Jenny Barron (@JennyWCVB) September 12, 2017
— Boston 25 News (@boston25) September 12, 2017