My first stop as the reporter for the Wellesley Townsman was at the fields behind Sprague School, where a group of high school students were coaching kids with special needs in soccer. It was exactly the type of inclusive, community-based effort upon which this town prides itself.
It’s fitting, then, that my last stop as your reporter will be the Sprague gym for the Wellesley Bee Wednesday night. The night will feature many of the same faces I’ve crossed paths with over the 3-1/2 years I’ve been here. They’ll be there supporting that same sense of community and the schools this town so deeply cherishes.
The landscape in town has changed—in some cases dramatically so—since the spring of 2013.
Protracted discussions about traffic, parking and storm water have given way to visible progress: The steel skeleton of a long-coveted senior center is emerging and will have opened its doors by this time next year.
The serenity of more than 40 acres of untouched forest on the western edge of town belies the summer’s worth of energy and angst that preceded the town’s acquisition of the land from Wellesley College.
A barren lot on Route 9 represents growth, too, as the town is making long-stalled gains toward a recreation complex that will cater to skaters and swimmers. Despite some movement, though, there’s still a long way to go.
The decision-making process behind all of these developments has been decidedly methodical, if not entirely unpredictable, and it’s sometimes been for naught: A “no” vote last spring rendered months of work and interminable hours discussing government reform effectively moot.
The people I’ve encountered—adults and kids, teachers, first responders, elected officials and town staff, to name some—have been almost wholly welcoming to me, though some surely wish I’d minded my own business and stayed out of theirs.
Many of the people I met were connected by a desire to do the right thing, be it for the less fortunate, for their own families, for their neighborhoods or for their town. That same desire will be tested again as questions about what to do about three deteriorating elementary schools, how to use the North 40 and more come to the forefront in the months and years to come.
I’ve learned more than I thought possible about government structure and operations, education policy, budgeting, public records, census data, town history and the people who make Wellesley what it is.
In late night conversations outside Town Hall or brief snack breaks during Town Meetings, people have made note of the length of time I’ve been here. The three-plus year tenure I’ve enjoyed in Wellesley is longer than many of my predecessors in this role. With it comes valuable perspective that guides my understanding of the issues Wellesley’s faced along the way.
That’s nothing compared to the experience and institutional knowledge Cathy Brauner possesses. Her editorial expertise and wealth of knowledge about this town have been an invaluable resource for me as I worked my way through the challenges of this job—my first in journalism.
She will be equally supportive of my successor, who will work with her toward the ultimate goal of keeping you better informed about your community.
For me, though, now is the right time to go. I’ll be moving on to broaden my horizons in a way that wouldn’t have been possible without the experience I’ve had as a reporter in this town.
Sorry to see you leave the Wellesley Townsman. Enjoyed so many of the stories you covered! Break a leg in your next chapter.
What’s ahead for you personally?
Patrick Rafter/Wellesley resident