The following article appeared in the Wellesley Townsman on October 2, 2014.
A funny thing is taking place right now at the intersection of Route 9 and Standish Road. Recently, the 125-foot-long stone wall that ran along the highway to the east of Standish Road mysteriously vanished. But it will reappear soon as if nothing ever happened.
This isn’t a magic act. Rather, it is the result of rash decision-making by the Commonwealth and valiant efforts by vigilant neighbors.
The saga began several months ago when a driver on Route 9 crashed into the western end of the wall at the corner of Standish Road, knocking over a four-foot section as well as a stop sign. The rubble lay strewn across the sidewalk for weeks.
Neighboring residents just assumed that a state highway crew was going to arrive eventually and repair the wall. After all, this structure is believed to date from 1938, when the original part of the Standish Road neighborhood was laid out. (There is also a stone wall that is of identical height and composition running along Route 9 to the west of Standish Road.)
Three weeks ago, however, construction workers showed up, disassembled the entire wall, and hauled all of the stones away.
Residents of the neighborhood were shocked and dismayed. Immediately thereafter, one of them approached workers cleaning up the site and inquired about the project. The workers informed him that the entire wall was removed because there had been numerous car accidents at that corner over the years and if they removed part of the wall, the rest of it would collapse. In its place, a metal guardrail would be installed. (The wall to the west of Standish Road, however, would remain.)
The resident then called the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, which authorizes and oversees all construction on Route 9, and voiced his objections to the removal of the wall, especially the fact that there was no notification to abutting neighbors. Unfortunately, nobody he spoke with knew anything about the project. They promised, however, to look into the matter. Meanwhile, other neighbors notified several Town officials.
Within 24 hours, the Chief Operations Engineer for MassDOT contacted the resident and expressed to him equal befuddlement and outrage that the entire wall was removed. But it was still unknown whether the structure could be rebuilt. After all, no one knew where the workers had dumped the stones.
A call the following day, however, brought good news. The stones had been found in Westwood and the wall would be reassembled at no cost to the Town.
Two weeks later, a construction crew arrived and began the reconstruction process. When the wall is completed, it should be impossible to tell that it had ever been removed.
So what can we learn from this story? First and foremost, the Commonwealth (and the Town for that matter) should always notify residents about any planned construction projects.
But perhaps as important, if you don’t like what you see, say something. You just might be able to save a part of the town that you cherish.