Search Results for: landscapes for living
Our roundup of the latest Wellesley, Mass., business news:
Office space market boon
The Boston Globe’s Diti Kohli zeroes in on Wellesley in an interesting article focused on the rising demand for office space in the ‘burbs, which of course means rents are up. In part, the changes involve converting traditional office space into bio labs, as is happening on Rte. 9 in Wellesley.
Though the article also cites firms that have shrunk their office space to accommodate hybrid work schedules.
Residential space market boon
Wellesley Executive Director Meghan Jop recently gave a whirlwind update on some of the residential construction moving along in town, including on Weston Road and Linden Street. If you’ve been away much of the summer, you might be surprised to see the progress. (You can hear Jop’s rundown at the July 26 Select Board meeting, about 1-hour, 16 minutes into the Wellesley Media recording.) The town has archived content on these one-time 40B projects that in some cases have since been revised.
Construction on the three-story Bristol condo complex at 148 Weston Rd. is cranking away, as you can see and hear if using the wooded trails of the North 40 woods that abut the project. Some of the Bristol’s online presence indicates a Fall 2022 opening…sounds ambitious. The 24 market condos, priced at well over $1M, should challenge down-sizers.
Separately, the Terrazza complex on Linden Street will offer 30-plus market rate units (mainly priced $1.5M to $3M) and 4 affordable ones in the former Delanson Circle and Hollis Street area off of Linden Street across from the commuter rail station. They’ve got a realtor’s office set up in Linden Square, and look to open in 2023.
Meanwhile, the Fieldstone Way townhouse project on Rte. 135 near the Needham line is nearly complete, according to Jop. About 90% of units (11 of 44 are affordable) are spoken for.
Construction is also underway on 17 units at Burke Lane on the Eastern side of town off of Rte. 9 east.
Projects at 680 Worcester St. and 16 Stearns Rd. that had been under appeal from various parties, including the town and neighbors, could be headed toward resolution, Jop said. She had no timeline on this.
Related to Wellesley’s housing plans, Jop also shared an update at the Aug. 16 Select Board meeting (about an hour into the Wellesley Media recording) that the state under its new multi-family zoning requirements for municipalities along MBTA routes has reclassified the town as a “commuter rail community” from a “rapid transit community.” This would focus Wellesley zoning requirements near its commuter rail stations, not near the green line stations close to Wellesley.
The town already feels confident it meets the zoning requirements either way.
A consultant’s housing market analysis will also soon give the town more to chew on regarding where Wellesley stands in terms of housing affordability and potential.
Pollinator condo boon
One other condo complex we’ve been asked about by a reader recently: The pollinator condos at Church Park at the intersection of Rte. 16 and Rte. 135 in Wellesley Square. We reached out to Wellesley Public Works Director David Cohen for an update on this plan for replacing invasives with native species.
“The goal for the renovation of Church Park is to provide a welcoming respite for pollinators and humans alike,” Cohen says. “The proposed garden planting reflects our position that public landscapes must be a refuge for all including pollinators that are critical to supporting balanced ecosystems.”
Church Park was last landscaped in the 1980’s with a selection of more traditional non-native plants.
The project is one that the DPW works on as time allows between its other maintenance activities. Many of the non-native plants have been removed and the brick walks have been reset. The existing irrigation system will be removed, as the native species are expected to be able to survive on their own. Though with the current drought conditions, there’s no sense in starting them off with that. Planning will likely happen in the spring.
“We are looking forward to having the garden ready for all visitors, winged or not, by late spring,” Cohen says.
Are you building something, too? Check out Needham Bank giveaway
The Town of Wellesley depends on the active participation of its citizens in governance of the Town. Wellesley has 11 Boards and Committees on the ballot at the Annual Town election each year in March. The 2019 election will be held on Tuesday, March 5, 2019.
Contested race: Natural Resources Commission (NRC)
It is the mission of the Natural Resources Commission to provide stewardship of, education about, and advocacy for the Town of Wellesley’s parks, conservation, recreation and open space areas so the full value of the Town’s natural assets can be passed onto future generations.
There are five members on the NRC Board. Vice Chair Raina McManus’ term expires in 2019. She is running as an incumbent, and Jim Miller is running against her for the three-year term.
We invited the two to answer a few questions about their qualifications and their priorities for the Town of Wellesley. Today’s post features Raina McManus. Tomorrow’s post will feature NRC candidate Jim Miller.
Raina McManus, candidate for NRC Board
The Swellesley Report: What is your background and what qualifies you for this position?
Raina McManus: I’ve been an environmental advocate for 28 years. Twenty-five years ago, I helped install the first community garden at Fiske Elementary school and insisted it be pesticide-free. I’ve been a strong advocate for measures to protect our Town environment ever since:
4-year Town Meeting Member
5 years on the Natural Resources Commission; Athletic Fields Project Liaison; Community
Preservation Committee; Fuller Brook park Coordinating Committee; Unified Plan Steering
Committee; North 40 Steering Committee;
Significant accomplishments: Hiring of new NRC director, Brandon Schmitt; Banning single-
use plastic checkout bags; raising community awareness of gas leaks and their effect on our
Co-Founder of Friends of Brookside;
Proud member of the Wellesley League of Women Voters and Wellesley Conservation
Council, two organizations with long histories of environmental stewardship.
Sw: If elected, what do you hope to accomplish during your three-year tenure on the Natural Resources Commission?
McManus: My top priorities include completing projects that help enhance and conserve our natural resources for the benefit of current and future generations, like the volunteer-built vernal pool boardwalk at the North 40 which protects the resource area and offers educational opportunities.
Ongoing priority projects include:
Expansion of the Grow Green Wellesley initiative to encourage eco-friendly lawns and native
landscaping via the planting of “pollinator corridors” throughout town;
Approval and construction of the Girls’ Softball field renovation project, including a
regulation size field with dugouts, bleacher seating, scoreboard, and improved drainage;
and proposed creation of a wetlands habitat as part of the environmentally-sensitive design;
Implementation of the Town Forest Stewardship and Bird Habitat Plans to protect our
drinking water and provide recreation and wildlife habitat;
Execution of the Morses Pond Shoreline Erosion remediation plan which protects our
drinking water, beach, and wildlife habitat at this popular recreation area;
Implementation of the Wellesley Unified Plan’s environmental best management practices;
Protection of our valuable town trees through bylaw review, quantification of the tree
canopy, development of an interactive public shade tree map; continuing the town’s tree
planting program including gas leak detection prior to planting new trees; and providing
education and advocacy to address gas leaks.
Sw: What is your hot-button issue?
McManus: Pesticides! Just because a product is for sale at the hardware store does not mean it is safe to use. Our health, especially that of our children and pets, is at risk from harmful chemicals in commonly used lawn products. Pesticides can leach into our groundwater and our drinking water by rain and runoff and seeping into the wells from which our drinking water is drawn. Pesticide use is having an adverse impact on insects, like caterpillars, an important food for our birds whose populations are in precipitous decline; and pollinators like monarch butterflies and bees that are responsible for pollinating 35% of our food supply. I want to continue to provide educational opportunities to engage and educate residents. I love teaching kids (and parents!) about watershed protection at the STEM Expo; and presenting educational workshops like Landscapes for Living, which encourage us to consider how our actions affect our environment, and consequently, our health.
Sw: How much of a role do you think the NRC should play in shaping environmental policy outside of Wellesley?
McManus: The laws and regulations created on Beacon Hill on issues such as gas leaks, pesticide use, plastics reduction, and more, affect all Wellesley residents. The NRC regularly communicates with our state representatives in an important two-way relationship – we stay informed, and we advocate for best environment practice and policy. I have testified at the State House on bills concerning pesticide and plastics reduction on behalf of our town.
Sw: How do you think the North 40 should be utilized?
McManus: One of the NRC’s most important functions will be educating the public on the economic and environmental value the North 40 is currently providing to Wellesley, including drinking water protection and flood control. The forested area of the North 40 helps clean our air of the exhaust fumes of idling cars on Route 9 and Weston Road; open space offsets heat islands created in nearby developed areas of town. We know that property values are enhanced in towns with healthy, green open spaces. This land is contiguous to Morses Pond, providing valuable wildlife habitat and a connecting wildlife corridor – as well as cherished open space for passive recreation. With the increasing intensity and frequency of climate events like storms and droughts, we need to be mindful of the benefits of flood control, temperature cooling, and air quality mitigation this resource provides. The North 40 is currently under the jurisdiction of the Board of Selectmen, and when discussions begin around best uses of the land, the NRC will be speaking in support of our natural resources. One of the lessons I’ve learned while working in town government is that you should never come into a conversation with a preconceived solution. There are always unknowns
and opportunities that cannot be realized until an open process begins, and I hope to be part of that conversation.
Sw: Is there anything else you would like to say that the above questions did not cover?
McManus: My experience as co-founder of Friends of Brookside, 4-year Town Meeting Member, and 5-year NRC Commissioner has taught me how our town government works, and the importance of taking time to build broad support for solutions to complex projects. The strong relationships I’ve built with residents, businesses, our talented town staff, and members from our 9 independently elected boards and multiple appointed committees have enabled me to produce positive results for our town, always in a collaborative manner. It’s been an honor and privilege to serve Wellesley for the last five years, I hope I’ve earned your vote for another three! Thank you!
Sw: How should voters reach you if they want more information?
McManus: I welcome comments and questions from our residents:
MORE: Wellesley election 2019
Residents can purchase Morses Pond beach tags starting May 17 online (search by Activity #852000) or at the Recreation Office, 8:30am – 4pm, while non-residents can buy tags on May 31.
The pond officially opens for swimming on Wednesday, June 7. Tags cost $75 for families of 4 and up; single tags go for $25 for kids up to age 16; $25 for adults and $25 for senior citizens when you purchase tags until May 26. After that you’ll pay $10 more for kids and seniors; $15 more for adults; and a whopping $95 more for families.
Feeling incentivized to plan ahead for the summer, families?
Daily tags cost $5 for residents, $10 for non-residents.
For more info, swimming lesson info, BBQ pavilion rentals, visit the Wellesley Recreation Department website.
Landscapes for Living: A Forum on Eco-Friendly Gardening and Lawn Care, Saturday, May 13 from 10:30am – 3pm @ the Wellesley Free Library…here’s some companion reading, That Perfect, Toxic Lawn
The Wellesley Women Artisans is presenting an exhibition of paintings and photography at the Wellesley Free Library with the theme of “The Art of Nature”. The exhibit will begin on Wednesday, May 3, in the Wakelin Room and run for the month of May. The public is invited for refreshments and to meet the artists at a reception in the Wakelin Room on Saturday, May 6 from 3:30-5:00 p.m.The show was inspired by the upcoming “Landscapes for Living” forum (Saturday, May 13) sponsored by the town’s Natural Resources Commission, Sustainable Wellesley and the Wellesley Free Library.The Wellesley Women Artisans is dedicated to promoting and encouraging art in the community through a variety of programs including Art in the Park, Art Walk and Open Studios. For more information about the WWA please visit our website: http://www.wellesleywomenart.
The Town of Wellesley Sustainable Energy Committee invites you to learn more about “green” happenings in Wellesley at its Tuesday, April 25, 9:15am – 11:30am meeting in the Wakelin Room of the Wellesley Free Library.
- How Wellesley Green Schools and Whitsons (the Wellesley Public Schools food service provider) have discovered a way to remove 4,000 single–use serving containers from the waste stream each year and save money.
- Why you should attend the NRC’s Landscapes for Living Forum on Eco-friendly Gardening and Lawn Care on Saturday, May 13. Listen to keynote speakers Dr. Doug Tallamy, author of Bringing Nature Home, and Chip Osborne of Osborne Organics, and participate in how-to workshops.
- What next steps are planned to tackle Wellesley’s Gas Leaks issue.
If your organization has an active initiative you’d like to share with our group, please email Ellen Korpi, Chair of the Sustainable Energy Committee, to add it to the agenda.
With word that the controversial Article 15 (aka, Sisters of Charity zoning amendment) would not be moved at Wellesley’s Special Town Meeting on Monday night, hopes were high that this might be a one-and-done event. But the chances of that happening were dashed early, with Town Meeting only reaching Article 5 at 9pm, a full two hours in, after the moderator had earlier informed Wellesley’s legislative body that the goal was to get things wrapped by 10:30pm if possible.
So what took all that time despite the lack of bagpipes and other pomp and circumstance that takes place at the larger Annual Town Meeting in the spring? Some technical issues with the electronic voting devices cost a good 15-20 minutes, but that wasn’t to blame. There was just lots of business to get done.
The list of 14 remaining articles on the Special Town Meeting warrant might have been a tad deceiving in that some articles contained multiple motions. Article 2, for example, had 7 motions related to settlement of union contracts, and took about 50 minutes to go through. No real drama here, unlike during Annual Town Meeting when Wellesley Public School teachers showed up in big numbers with their red shirts as their contract negotiations dragged on (a deal was reached in May, after Town Meeting).
Motions under Article 2 dealt with other unions, including for those who provide public safety, public works, facilities, and library services.
Wellesley Executive Director Meghan Jop kicked off discussion of the motions by thanking the unions for “a very successful bargaining session… it was very collegial and collaborative,” as well as by thanking department heads involved. She noted that the town had put aside about $1.2M in its FY24 budget for contract settlements and came in just under that.
Repeating a concern heard often at town government meetings over the past few years, Jop cited challenges in hiring, including at the Department of Public Works, which has had vacancy rates of up to 20%, and the fire department, which will be hiring to replace up to 8 firefighters in FY24. The public safety dispatcher vacancy rate has hit 60%. So in coming to terms on salaries, the town did some serious number crunching to ensure its offers would be competitive. “Our goal was to bring these unions to median [compensation],” she said before introducing the DPW Production staff agreement, which started with a 5% cost-of-living adjustment-inspired salary increase of 5% in year one. A 4-day, 10-hour-per-day work week has been among things piloted by the DPW to attract and retain talent. Also getting a big bump, 6%, in the first year of their new contract are police patrol officers, which are also tough to hire and now need to adhere to a new state certification under the POST Commission.
All 7 motions under Article 2 easily passed, with only a few comments or questions from Town Meeting members over a period of about 50 minutes to get through them all.
Article 3 contained just 2 motions, both involving additional FY24 appropriations, the first involving the fire department, which has had a history of significant deficits caused by in part by staffing shortages and resulting overtime costs for those who fill the gaps (including deputy chiefs). With the retirement of the longtime fire chief, and installment of an interim chief, the Select Board and Jop took a fresh look at this situation, and among other things proposed hiring an additional firefighter to address the staff operating sometimes with the minimum allowed number of personnel. “We’re in a constant state of hiring at the fire department at this time,” said Jop, adding that new firefighters require new uniforms, etc. Motion 1 called for $360,000 in additional spending be allowed on the fire department, and Town Meeting passed this by a count of 194-1.
Motion 2 under Article 3 involved a request for a relatively mere $11K to cover valuation services for the Board of Assessors. This passed unanimously.
The subject of Article 4 is 1 of everybody’s favorite: Rescinding of debt. In this case, $3.1M reimbursed for the Hardy Elementary School project. This passed easily, though a motion was made to continue the meeting to Tuesday, Nov. 7 if needed.
Housing & pickleball
Things were moving right along. Then came Article 5, brought forward by the Community Preservation Committee (CPC), which recommends spending on projects from a surcharge on property taxes and matching state money. Such funds are mainly for projects related to open space, affordable housing, recreation, and historic buildings and landscapes, and consultants are all ears when it comes to these plans.
Town Meeting spent most of the rest of Monday’s meeting on Article 5.
The first motion was a request for $65,000 to create a strategic housing plan to be conducted by a consultant. Based on the level of angst in town now between those who are pushing for new housing anywhere there’s space vs. those against having it in their neighborhood, there’s a need for a more thought-out scheme for determining the best way to increase the amount and diversity of the town’s housing in such a way that will meet demand for housing but also respect those who already live here. The request was sponsored by a Housing Task Force consisting of reps from various town bodies, such as the Select Board, Planning Board, and Wellesley’s housing-focused groups.
This plan would serve as a follow-on to the state-approved Wellesley Housing Production Plan, which helped the town meet the state’s requirement to have 10% of its housing stock deemed affordable and allowed Wellesley to stave off unfriendly 40B projects that gave developers lots of leeway to build wherever and under looser zoning. The new plan would guide the town’s review and possible updates to its zoning bylaw as well at a time when suburbs like Wellesley are under fire for historically being too restrictive despite recent efforts by the town to address concerns, such as through inclusionary zoning that requires a certain amount of affordable units in new developments and plans to meet the state’s new MBTA Communities multifamily zoning rules.
The overall goal would be to strategize a way to introduce more affordable units not just for low-income individuals, but for downsizers, young people, and those working for or in the town. A $10K housing study conducted on behalf of the Wellesley Housing Development Corp. yet illustrated such demand via hard data. As it is, the bulk of new units being built here go for $1M or more.
CPC Chair Barbara McMahon said “The goals of this new strategic plan are many, but we believe they are attainable and necessary,” she said, pointing to Gov. Maura Healey’s big push to address the state’s housing crisis.
A few comments were made and questions asked by Town Meeting members, including when the public would get to provide input into any such plan. The motion passed by a count of 160-15 (by the way, if you’re wondering, Wellesley Town Meeting consists of 240 members, so we’re not sure what the Naples happened to the rest).
Motion 2 under Article 5 focused on a study of another kind: A $70K request regarding the criteria and feasibility of siting pickleball courts in town (1 Town Meeting member said “I have to find it somewhat amusing” that more was being requested for a pickleball study than a housing plan).
Much of the discussion leading up to this motion centered around the possibility of pickleball courts coming to the Morses Pond parking lot in the wake of dissension between players and neighbors at Sprague Field and Perrin Park. People want to play outside, but many neighbors said the game is just too loud, and the idea of locating courts at Morses Pond has raised environmental concerns from some.
“The CPC has heard loud and clear from all corners of town about pickleball,” McMahon said.
A recent field utilization study conducted in town found that up to 14 standalone courts might be needed to meet demand. Recreation Commission Chair Paul Cramer said the town has almost that number of courts available, but some have quality issues and others have location issues.
The CPC funding being requested would initially include such things as determining demand, ranking possible locations, and establishing criteria for locations. Then a chunk of the funding would be used to evaluate specific sites.
Familiar face from Wellesley’s pickleball drama, pro and con, made familiar points about the popular paddle sport.
Questions were raised by Town Meeting members about such issues as evaluating indoor vs. outdoor courts. We’ve heard from some that “pickleball should just be an indoor game,” though of course many players enjoy getting outdoors and playing it.
One Town Meeting member said the community-building aspect of pickleball is huge, so having a bunch of courts together rather than spread all over town is important to enable that. Another vouched for the inclusivity of pickleball in that it’s not just for older people, but also entire families.
Town Meeting approved funding the study by a 135-40-1 vote (see the Town Meeting scorecard for all vote totals so far).
Still to come…
Tuesday’s meeting, at 7pm at the Middle School, will tackle issues such as solar panels at the library, inclusionary zoning, and accessory dwelling units.
- See also:
- Wellesley Town Meeting gives Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick a vote of confidence
- Wellesley Special Town Meeting night #2: Library Board wins 1, loses 1; Inclusionary zoning changes approved; ADU motion fails
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Anne Powers, who has lived in Wellesley for more than 70 years, just celebrated her 101st birthday. So yes, of course she deserved at least 2 parties.
Harry Powers, the oldest of her 4 children, tells us that the celebrations included her children and their partners, as well as her younger sister, who is 95. Harry’s younger siblings are named George, Kathy, and Eleanor.
Aside from attending parties, another way Anne Powers remains active is through daily sketching. A graduate of Vassar College and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, she’s been been a prolific artist throughout her life.
Born in Boston and raised in Brookline, Powers came to Wellesley after marrying Burton Powers, who moved here in the late 1940’s after serving in the Navy. He moved here to be near his father, who was the medical director at a small mental health facility on Grove Street. Burton Powers, a lawyer who practiced in Boston well into his 80’s, first lived with his wife on Ingraham Road in Wellesley, and later Benvenue Street.
Anne Powers has been an active artist since 1948, according to her son, primarily as a painter. But she has also sculpted and made prints. “At first she would use whatever space was available as a studio. By the mid 1980’s, after all of her children had grown and moved on, my mother was able to set up a permanent studio on the third floor of the house and installed a flat bed printing press in my old room on the second floor,” Harry says.
Known as “Anne Lyman Powers” in the art world, she is currently represented by a Newbury Street Gallery and has sold many paintings and prints over the years, according to her son, who adds that the MFA has one of her paintings in their collection.
In an online biography, Powers said she became interested in painting at around the age of 16. “I have always preferred realist painting with recognizable subject matter – but a subject matter that has two aspects. The first is that the subjects should be explicit – portraits, human or animal forms, landscapes, still life and so on. I have never limited myself in any way here. I say to myself that I’ll paint anything, any time, anywhere. So most of it reflects my home and family, friends, occupations and travels. I feel free to absorb influences from any direction: a bit of surrealism, a bit of pop, a bit of abstract expressionism.
“The second aspect addresses the object which is the painting – or whatever the work is – its composition, color relationships and texture. The considerations here should obey rules for abstraction. The marriage between these two principal aspects should be accomplished in a way which makes possible and enhances a feeling, an experience or a statement about the world in which we live or about the human condition. In short: a realist abstraction or abstract realism. That’s where the interest lies for me—in the tension to be resolved.”
Powers, who turned 101 on Sept. 13, is 1 of 15 centenarians living in Wellesley.
The plea came from a Wellesley Gardeners’ Guild member. She needed help committing herbicide.
“Dear gardeners and anyone with opposable thumbs,” began the email. “As many of you might already know, garlic mustard is a very bad bunny. Even bunnies don’t like it much…we have the equivalent of a flowering forest fire of it in our yards, woodlands and public spaces. Please heed the call and haul it out!”
I was one of almost 100 garden club members cc’d on this formal summons to war. Actives, sustainers—all were called to action, and encouraged to recruit friends and family. It was time to stop a weed determined to eradicate native beauties such as woodland phlox, Solomon’s seal, trillium, Jack-in-the-pulpit, and trout lily. I’ve seen every one of those lovelies in Welleslsey’s open spaces including Fuller Brook Park, Centennial Park, the North 40, and Boulder Brook. I’ve also seen plenty of garlic mustard in those places, lurking about, gaining in strength and numbers as it goes unchecked. Don’t let those little white flowers and heart-shaped leaves fool you. One garlic mustard plant can produce hundreds of seeds that spread with the wind, off to colonize another patch of unsuspecting ground. Garlic mustard is non-native, highly invasive, and going for broke.
What the town is doing
The town knows all about the situation, and in fact the Natural Resources Commission has garlic mustard on its list of Wellesley’s Least Wanted Invasive Plants. (Not making this up. The NRC really does have such a hit-list.) To those who take a live-and-let-live approach to flora management, breezily claiming that a weed is just any plant growing where we don’t want it to, well, that’s part of the story. But then there is a subset of weeds known as “invasive species.” The NRC says such plants are aggressive and “spread unchecked into undisturbed land, upsetting the balance of native species and changing the ecosystem.”
Once you see garlic mustard for the bully it is, you can’t un-see it. Changing the ecosystem is exactly what the noxious plant does, in an insidious way. First, it emerges before other woodland plants in the spring, all the better to welcome them into a living hell of soil disruption and intimidation techniques such as dominance. Garlic mustard sidles up to native plants. Then it takes over their space and crowds then out. Once a patch is established, the roots of garlic mustard secrete chemicals that inhibit germination and growth of native species.
Our neighborhood nearly lost a gorgeous stand of hundreds of woodland phlox to the onward march of garlic mustard. When the woods lost several trees to Hurricane Irene in 2011, within a couple of years something lovely happened. The felled trees made way for increased sunlight, which encouraged the spread of a few phlox that had maintained a small, long-established colony in the dappled sun near the wood’s edge. Drawn by the sunshine, the patch migrated and became so striking within another two years that passers-by would stop to take pictures. But by 2016, garlic mustard had gotten wind of the situation, and moved in. Trouble was, I didn’t know garlic mustard was a menace. With its delicate white flowers woven through the tapestry of light pink and white phlox, the newcomer looked like another wildflower to me. So I welcomed it. Big mistake. By the time I wised up, it was almost too late. One sad spring, phlox blooms were down by more than half. Those that managed to soldier on were outnumbered by garlic mustard, 100-to-one, easily. It all happened so fast.
But I move fast too, when I have to. Like most bullies, garlic mustard folds when confronted. On the plus side, the plant is easy to pull. Just yank it from the base, and the tap root come right out. Today the phlox is back to its former glory, a process that has taken years. My garlic mustard pulling will probably never be done, but it’s worth it. Although garlic mustard is easiest to pull up after a rain, this is not the best time to get rid of garlic mustard. Now is. Don’t wait for the perfect conditions, just get out there and do it.
Call to action
It’s up to Wellesley residents to do this job, because the town just doesn’t have the resources or the staffing to do it. The Park & Tree Division has 15 full-time employees performing maintenance on trees, landscapes, and hardscapes across 900+ acres of athletic fields, parkland, conservation land, ponds, and 70+ traffic islands in town. Primarily a maintenance division, Park & Tree also takes on some projects working on lands owned by the NRC, Schools, the Select Board, the Water Division, Recreation, Libraries, Police, Mass Highway, and DPW.
“We don’t have an effective weapon other than the chemical Glyphosate which is not organic and thus not used on public lands here in Wellesley,” Cricket Vlass, Landscape Planner for the town said. “Just know, waging war is laudable but likely not winnable.”
Not winnable? That sounds like a challenge. We have not yet begun to fight. I saved the phlox by pulling out 100 garlic mustard plants several times per week. Let’s call this the “brighten the corner where you are” approach to garlic mustard management. Or as my mom used to say, “Look around, see what needs to be done, and do it.”
Think of your outdoor Wellesley happy place. Now get out there and save it. Pull up 100 garlic mustard plants, bag them, and throw them in the trash (never in the RDF yard waste area or in your own backyard composting operation). Do this several times per week, and your happy place will thank you. This will take years. Maybe for as long as you live in Wellesley. Don’t ever give up.
“We hope that homeowners will join us in the battle against these marauders,” Vlass said. “We can’t do it alone.”
Wellesley Middle School students vs. garlic mustard
Earlier this month during a community service day, many Wellesley 8th graders helped remove massive amounts of the invasive to help prepare for the Simons Park Lawn Conversion or Lawn “Habit to Habitat” Project. The Natural Resources Commission has reimagined the area adjacent to the main library and is converting resource-dependent conventional lawn into a thriving, ecologically functional landscape that supports native at-risk pollinator species. More here on the project, which is in its second year.
The Town of Wellesley depends on the active participation of its citizens in governance of the Town. Wellesley has 11 Boards and Committees on the ballot at the Annual Town election each year in March. The 2022 election will be held on Tuesday, March 1.
There are two candidates running for one open 3-year position on the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) Board.
It is the mission of the five-member NRC Board to provide stewardship of, education about, and advocacy for the Town of Wellesley’s parks, conservation, recreation and open space areas so the full value of the Town’s natural assets can be passed onto future generations.
The Swellesley Report invited the candidates to answer a few questions about their priorities for the Town of Wellesley.
Both candidate interviews appear in this post in the order in which their names appear on the ballot.
Lisa Collins, candidate for Natural Resources Commission
The Swellesley Report: Please introduce yourself to The Swellesley Report‘s readers.
Lisa Collins: I have dedicated myself to serving Wellesley’s kids and families to learn, live and play in our Town’s healthy environment. With leadership roles on many local nonprofit organizations—PTOs, WEF, Wellesley ABC, Wellesley Scholarship Foundation and Wellesley Service League—I have helped ensure funding for environmental science programs, led and trained a volunteer corps in science-based geology walks and I have been an advocate for our Green Schools initiatives district-wide. I have worked tirelessly to support the mental and physical development of our kids to live and thrive in a healthy and sustainable environment through both protection and recreational play.
TSR: If elected, what do you hope to accomplish in your tenure as an NRC board member?
Lisa Collins: My Protect, Plan, Play platform is grounded in the mission of the NRC to define our priorities and create a blueprint for action.
Protect: We must protect and preserve our biodiversity with science-based best practices. Our natural resources are a part of a complex ecosystem requiring laser focus to protect our natural habitats (park, pond and wetland) and watershed protection areas through both NRC action and policies. Prioritizing tree canopy growth, legacy trees, plants and wildlife are a vital part of the ongoing focus of NRC stewardship.
Plan: We must plan effectively to secure our natural resources for generations to come through fiscally sound short, mid-range and long-term planning. We must lead education and advocacy through climate change collaborations as part of the Municipality Vulnerability Preparedness Program, address gaps or updates in NRC policies, and detail open space maintenance and development projects.
Play: We must value the growing needs of our community’s mental and physical health. Define the use of our passive and active recreation spaces throughout Wellesley by taking an engaged leadership approach. Encourage and educate families to enjoy, access and responsibly use our recreation spaces, especially sports fields. Healthy families and healthy environments can and should coexist.
TSR: We haven’t heard much about the North 40 lately. What would you like to see the town do with that property?
Lisa Collins: The North 40 continues to be a vibrant space of trails, community gardens and a vernal pool as a passive recreation space. In any discussions of further development, the NRC will need to collaborate with many other boards and committees in the Town as we consider any additional development. For example, the Town’s Unified Plan includes a consideration for mixed use housing on a portion of the land. The NRC will play a vital role as a steward for our natural resources. I envision more passive and active recreational uses for this site, all centered on the land’s natural infrastructure and viability. To support the Town’s goal to enhance the economic vibrancy and stability of Central Street merchants the North 40 should become a destination for passive and active recreation which could include: walking and hiking trails, biking paths, active playing fields, a children’s playground, skating rink, and community and demonstration gardens.
TSR: Is there anything else you’d like to say that the above questions did not cover?
Lisa Collins: I have deep experience from my work in the private, nonprofit and public sector collaborating, problem solving, using data, and stakeholder input to make sound decisions. How we work together matters. I have the leadership experience and the know-how to get things done that the NRC needs today. We need a clear plan and real transparency to reach all of our goals and honor the NRC mission to be true stewards of our natural resources for the Town of Wellesley. It is vital we come together with a unified and balanced approach to meet our collective goals and move our community forward.
TSR: How should voters reach you if they want more information?
Lisa Collins: I would be honored to represent you on the NRC and I ask for your vote! You can learn more about me and get in touch at www.lisacollinsfornrc.org
Raina McManus, candidate for Natural Resources Commission
The Swellesley Report: Please introduce yourself to The Swellesley Report‘s readers.
Raina McManus: I’m Raina McManus, running for re-election to the NRC. I’m a 30-year resident, my husband Michael grew up in Wellesley, and our children, Hera and Tycho, attended Wellesley public schools.
I’ve served as an environmental leader in Wellesley for decades, beginning with installing an organic garden at Fiske Elementary School 30 years ago, co-founding Friends of Brookside to protect our drinking water, and for the last eight years as a Commissioner on the Natural Resources Commission.
In my eight years on the NRC I’ve learned what it takes to bring projects to completion by leading inclusive, transparent, and even-handed processes that get us to successful solutions. Some examples include:
- New public bathroom at Hunnewell Field, coming this spring!
- Renovation of two girls’ softball fields
- Plastic bag bylaw
- Wellesley’s organic pesticide policy
- Shoreline restoration of Morses Pond
- Renovation and expansion of Hunnewell Track and Field
- Restoration of Fuller Brook Park
- Lights and restoration of Hunnewell basketball court
The hot topic right now is the installation of lights on Hunnewell Track & Field. See my video. This is a controversial project that will benefit from my knowledge and experience, as well as listening to each other.
There are many stressors and demands constantly placed on Wellesley’s natural resources. I support nature-based solutions and balanced decision-making to protect them for future generations.
TSR: If elected, what do you hope to accomplish in your tenure as an NRC board member?
Raina McManus: Now more than ever we need to rely on knowledgeable and experienced officials as we face growing environmental challenges such as extreme heat, prolonged drought, more flooding, invasive species, environmental toxins, and development. In all these cases, our natural resources are our best defense.
We need to protect our open space and build a community that is resilient to climate change and committed to healthy living. That means protecting our wetlands and drinking water, planting more trees, reducing pesticides, creating sustainable landscapes, fostering healthy and biodiverse habitat for wildlife and important pollinators like birds and insects, protecting our ponds and shorelines, expanding our trails system, and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. Nature is our best ally; when we protect our resources, we protect ourselves.
My priorities align with our Town’s Climate Action Plan, Unified Plan, Open Space and Recreation Plan, Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program, and Town Meeting mandates. I have served on each of these planning committees and understand our goals and the action steps necessary to reach them. My experience serving on these committees, as well as on the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) and the 3R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) Working Group puts me in a unique position to contribute over the next three years.
TSR: We haven’t heard much about the North 40 lately. What would you like to see the town do with that property?
Raina McManus: I served on the Select Board-appointed North 40 Steering Committee, which recommended our Town purchase this important 46 acres of open space. While on the NRC, I’ve provided education about the importance of this mostly forested land.
In 2018 we co-hosted an event with the League of Women Voters, “Speaking for Our Trees”, with Dr. David Foster of the Harvard Forest and author of the publication Wildlands and Woodlands. He spoke about the extra value contiguous forests and open spaces provide, and we shared this information with other town leaders.
The North 40 provides countless educational and community building opportunities, including the vernal pool with its protective volunteer-built boardwalk, numerous trails maintained by our dedicated Trails Committee members who pivoted during COVID to provide self-guided walks, and the gardens, which provide free produce to Wellesley’s Food Pantry. We recently hosted an Owl Prowl.
The North 40 falls within the Town’s Water Supply Protection Overlay District. It cleans and replenishes our groundwater, buffers weather change, improves air quality, reduces sound, and provides wildlife habitat, as well as countless recreational opportunities such as gardening, hiking, cross country skiing, birdwatching. We know that towns with healthy, abundant open spaces enjoy increased property values, and residents living near open spaces are more apt to use them regularly for exercise, contributing to our physical and mental health.
The North 40 is an important part of Wellesley’s open space. I appreciate the opportunity to engage on this valuable asset, which is currently under the purview of the Select Board, and I look forward to staying in the conversation.
TSR: Is there anything else you’d like to say that the above questions did not cover?
Raina McManus: On a personal note, I’m a native gardener, I participate in “Shave the Peak,” the food waste diversion program, and the “We Care” renewable energy program. I drive electric, and I’m a weekly participant at “Fridays For Future” on the Town Hall lawn.
I’m a proud member of the League of Women Voters Wellesley, Sustainable Wellesley, Wellesley Club, Wellesley Conservation Land Trust, Wellesley Green Collaborative, and Wellesley Green Schools.
It’s the mission of the NRC to pass along the full value of our natural assets to future generations. It’s an honor and privilege to serve Wellesley on this important board. The Mission Matters! I ask for your vote on March 1.
TSR: How should voters reach you if they want more information?
Raina McManus: Learn more about my work: