Wellesley, Massachusetts Town Information
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Wellesley /ˈwɛlzliː/ is a town in Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States. It is part of Greater Boston. The population was 27,982 at the time of the 2010 census. It has one of the highest median household and family incomes in Massachusetts. It is best known as the home of Wellesley College, Babson College, and a campus of Massachusetts Bay Community College.
Wellesley was settled in the 1630s as part of Dedham, Massachusetts. It was subsequently a part of Needham, Massachusetts called West Needham, Massachusetts. On October 23, 1880, West Needham residents voted to secede from Needham, and the town of Wellesley was later christened by the Massachusetts legislature on April 6, 1881. The town was named after the estate of local benefactor Horatio Hollis Hunnewell.
Wellesley's population grew by over 80 percent during the 1920s.
The town designated Cottage Street and its nearby alleys as the historic district in its zoning plan. Most houses in this district were built around the 1860s and qualify as protected buildings certified by the town's historic commission.
Wellesley is located in eastern Massachusetts. It is bordered on the east by Newton, on the north by Weston, on the south by Needham and Dover and on the west by Natick. According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 10.49 square miles (27.2 km2), of which 10.18 square miles (26.4 km2) is land and 0.32 square miles (0.83 km2) is water.
The town's historic 19th century inn was demolished to make way for condominiums and mixed-use development in 2006. The Wellesley Country Club clubhouse, which is the building where the town was founded, was demolished in 2008, and a new clubhouse was built. The town's pre-World War II high school building was torn down & replaced, with a brand new high school finished in 2012. The entire 1960s-style Linden Street strip-mall has been replaced by "Linden Square" – a shopping district that includes a flagship Roche Bros. supermarket, restaurants, cafes, clothing stores, along with a mixture of national chains and local shops.
The Census Bureau has also defined the town as a census-designated place with an area exactly equivalent to the town.
As of the census of 2000, there were 26,613 people, 8,594 households, and 6,540 families residing in the town. The population density was 2,614.1 people per square mile (1,009.4/km²). There were 8,861 housing units at an average density of 870.4 per square mile (336.1/km²). According to a 2007 Census Bureau estimate, the racial makeup of the town was 84.6% White, 10.0% Asian, 2.2% Black, 0.01% Native American, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 1.4% from other races, and 1.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.4% of the population.
There were 8,594 households out of which 39.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 67.2% were married couples living together, 7.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.9% were non-families. 20.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.70 and the average family size was 3.14.
In the town, the population was spread out with 25.1% under the age of 18, 13.9% from 18 to 24, 22.9% from 25 to 44, 24.2% from 45 to 64, and 13.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 77.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 71.1 males.
The median income for a household was $159,167, and the median income for a family was $186,518. The per capita income in the town was $72,046. About 2.4% of families and 3.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.0% of those under age 18 and 2.1% of those age 65 or over.
According to Boston Magazine's yearly "Best Places To Live", Wellesley ranks first in the United States in percentage of adults who hold at least one college degree. Over 66% of the households have at least one individual holding an advanced degree beyond a bachelor's degree. In 2009, Wellesley ranked #2 in "America's Most Educated Small Towns" according to Forbes.com.
The town government has been run by town meeting since the town's founding.
Since Proposition 2½ limited property tax increases to 2.5% per year in 1980, the town has had to ask residents for a number of overrides to maintain funding for certain programs. Although the main 2005 override passed, a simultaneous supplemental override to preserve certain specific programs and services failed by 17 votes. The 2006 override passed with a large majority. Wellesley also receives funding from the state government. Local roads have been repaved several times in the 1990s and 2000s.
Wellesley opened its new Free Library building in 2003, which is part of the Minuteman Library Network. Due to the structure of budget override votes and perhaps the size of the new main branch of the library, the two branch libraries—one in Wellesley Hills, which was purpose-built to be a branch library in the 1920s, another in Wellesley Fells—closed in the summer of 2006. The branch libraries reopened in September 2008.
On December 18, 2014 Wellesley College and the Town of Wellesley announced that the College's Board of Trustees had chosen the Town's $35M bid for the purchase of 46 acres of land adjacent to its campus. Under this agreement, at least 50% of the North 40 property will be preserved in perpetuity as open space. A special town meeting in January 2015 resulted in a near-unanimous vote in favor of the purchase, and in March 2015, 80 percent of residents that cast votes at the Town election, voted to approve the purchase.
Wellesley residents receive all major services from their local town government, with the exception of residential trash pick-up.
Municipal Light Plant
Wellesley is serviced by the Wellesley Municipal Light Plant (WMLLP). It is one of only a handful of municipal light plants in the state of Massachusetts. See "Green Power Community" under "Sustainability" below.
Recycling and Disposal
Residents of Wellesley cart their own refuse to Wellesley's Recycling and Disposal Facility (RDF), a town-operated multi-use waste recycling site, where items are sorted by type, recyclability and potential reuse. Old books and magazines are available for town residents to take, which have their own shelving section. See more on Waste Management under "Sustainability" below.
The RDF also has a "Take it or Leave it" area where residents leave items they no longer want but that are in good repair. In 2004, the Town had to discontinue the "Take it or Leave it" because of funding cutbacks. However, within six months town residents reinstated it by means of a volunteer system. The section reopened with volunteers on duty at all times to organize the goods and ensure that only usable items were left there.
The town is known for possessing the second greatest concentration of residents with advanced degrees in the country. The public education services of the town are very well regarded, especially Wellesley High School; in 2007 it was ranked 70th best public high school in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, earning a Gold Medal. The following year, the high school's accreditation was placed on warning status by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Public Secondary Schools. Wellesley High gained national attention in 2012 when English teacher David McCullough, Jr. -- son of noted author/historian David McCullough—delivered a widely read and viewed commencement address dubbed "You're Not Special," in which he urged graduates not to take things for granted.
On the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System test, the district regularly scores higher than the state average. The school system also contains a middle school and seven elementary schools (Bates, Upham, Schofield, Fiske, Hardy, Hunnewell, and Sprague) The current members of the Wellesley Public Schools committee are Sharon Gray, Matt Kelley, Wendy Paul, Patti Quigley and Anthony Bent.
The town contains a private elementary school, Tenacre Country Day School, one private Catholic elementary school St. John the Evangelist and a preparatory school for girls, Dana Hall School. Also, the Wellesley A Better Chance outfit started in the early 1970s brings promising young women from underserved areas into town to attend Wellesley High School and live nearby.
Wellesley also contains the main campus of three colleges: Wellesley, a women's liberal arts college, Massachusetts Bay Community College, a two-year public college, and Babson, a business college. According to Forbes.com, Wellesley College is the sixth best college in the country. According to U.S. News & World Report, Babson College is the number one college in the country for entrepreneurship, receiving this distinction for the past fourteen years. In addition, The Financial Times ranked Babson College as the 5th best U.S. college for providing custom executive education programs. Part of the main campus of Olin College, a private engineering school, is located in Wellesley, although its main entrance is located in Needham.
Wellesley has had rail service to Boston since 1833. Rail service is currently provided through Wellesley's participation in the MBTA, which offers a total of 17 weekday Commuter Rail trains inbound towards Boston and outbound towards Framingham and Worcester. Wellesley's stations are (east to west) Wellesley Farms, Wellesley Hills, and Wellesley Square. The Wellesley Farms station is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. MWRTA bus service also runs along Walnut Street, Cedar Street, and Route 9.
The highways Interstate 95/Massachusetts Route 128, Massachusetts Route 9, Massachusetts route 16 and Massachusetts route 135 run through Wellesley.
For elders and people with disabilities there is a specific MBTA-based service, The Ride, which offers free or low-cost door-to-door service by appointment.
From nearby Riverside MBTA Station in Newton, commuter express buses run to downtown Boston, Newton Corner and Central Square, Waltham. This is also a station for Greyhound Lines and Peter Pan Bus Lines with frequent service to Boston, New York City, and other destinations.
Wellesley's Council on Aging contracts out a daily low-cost minibus service offering elderly access to several local medical facilities and the Woodland MBTA station. Further afield is the Springwell Senior Medical Escort Program / Busy Bee Transportation Service for rides to medical & non-medical services in the area. There is also a monthly minibus to the Natick Mall.
For Amtrak service the nearest stations are west in Framingham, east in Boston at Back Bay and South Station, and south in Route 128 Station in Westwood.
Those affiliated with Wellesley College can take advantage of their bus services to Cambridge and Needham. Wellesley College and Babson College also both offer discounted Zipcar service.
The nearest international airport is Boston Logan Airport, 18 miles from Wellesley.
Green Power Community
In February 2009 Wellesley’s Municipal Light Plant introduced the Voluntary Renewable Energy POWER TO CHOOSE program to improve home efficiency and offer a variety of options for the community to lower energy consumption. As a result, many residents, businesses, and the three colleges voluntarily pay a premium to purchase electricity generated by wind power.
In 2014, Wellesley ranked third in the nation for customer participation after Portland, Oregon and Sacramento, California.
In 2012, Wellesley was designated a Green Power Community by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the only Green Power Community in Massachusetts and second in all of New England.
Also in 2012, the Wellesley Municipal Light Plant was the only green power supplier nationwide to receive the Innovative Green Power Program of the Year Award.
Reducing Carbon Footprint
In 2009 the Town established the Municipal Energy Efficiency Committee (MEEC) made up of representatives from various Town departments, to develop and evaluate municipal policies to reduce energy use.
In 2010 Wellesley’s Sustainable Energy Committee (SEC) was formed by Town Meeting. The Committee’s primary objective was a 10% Town-wide reduction in Wellesley’s carbon footprint; and 20% reduction in carbon footprint for all municipal departments by the end of 2013. In 2014 Town Meeting voted to support a new goal of 25% reduction by 2020 using 2007 as the base year.
The Committee is responsible for Wellesley’s adoption of the Massachusetts Stretch Building Code approved by Town Meeting effective January 2012.
In 2013 the Committee organized Wellesley’s Green Collaborative, a group of organizations that are concerned about environmental issues in Wellesley and beyond. Dozens of like-minded organizations are represented including Wellesley Conservation Council, a private, non-profit, land trust and conservation education organization incorporated in 1958, and Sustainable Wellesley, a group of volunteers who encourage sustainability in Wellesley and the surrounding area through events, education and action.
In 2014 the Sustainable Energy Committee served to double participation in the Town’s Voluntary Renewable Energy POWER TO CHOOSE program and organized the More POWER TO CHOOSE Solar Program.
Natural Resources Protection
Wellesley is the longest running Tree City USA community of any city or town in Massachusetts.
Effective July 1, 2011 Town Meeting passed Wellesley’s Tree Bylaw that requires property owners to protect certain trees and critical root zones during construction projects, and replace trees that are cut down or donate money to a special tree fund.
The Town's Natural Resource Protection (NRP) Development bylaw, approved by Town Meeting in 2013 applies to any subdivision generating 5 or more lots. This bylaw requires a minimum of 50% of the property be preserved as open space in exchange for reduced lot sizes without increasing density.
Established in 1979, Wellesley has a unique elected Natural Resources Commission (NRC) bearing the statutory authority and responsibility of Park Commissions, Conservation Commissions, Tree Wardens, Town Forest Committees, and Forestry and Pest Control Officers. The Commission maintains Wellesley’s two Community Gardens and maintains a trail network that includes 26 miles of marked trails interconnecting open spaces and conservation lands for walking, dog walking, jogging, bicycling, cross-country skiing and more.
In 2001 the Commission in collaboration with the Health, Public Works and School Departments developed a Pesticide Awareness Campaign resulting in an Organic Pest Management Policy governing pesticide use on all town-owned property.
In 2003 the Commission created the Preservation Master Plan for Fuller Brook Park in collaboration with Wellesley’s Department of Public Works. This major restoration project will be completed in 2016.
In 2009 the Commission launched the Green Wellesley Campaign advocating for sustainability by raising awareness and promoting increased environmental action.
Wellesley Green Schools was established in 2006. Their No Idling Campaign received an Excellence in Energy and Environmental Education Award from the state of Massachusetts in 2014.
The Town’s new high school opened in February 2012 and includes such elements as green vegetated roof, geothermal heating and cooling, solar photovoltaic panel, and rainwater recovery systems.
In 2015 the Wellesley 3R (Reduce/Reuse/Recycle) Working Group was formed to consider possible initiatives to increase recycling and reduce waste in Wellesley. The initiative is a joint-effort of the Department of Public Works, Natural Resources Commission and Sustainable Energy Committee.
Wellesley is home to the headquarters of many local, national and global businesses including BCC Research, Benchmark Senior Living, Blank Label Apparel, Eagle Investment Systems, EPG Incorporated, GrandBanks Capital, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Livingston and Haynes PC, Roche Bros., Wellesley Dental Group, and Sun Life Financial U.S.
According to Wellesley's 2011 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:
Wellesley's Wonderful Weekend
Each year the weekend before Memorial Day, The Town of Wellesley sponsors the annual Wellesley's Wonderful Weekend which includes the annual Veterans' Parade and Fireworks. The fireworks display is one of the most elaborate and spectacular shows that is done by local or town government in the United States. It is put on by Atlas Fireworks of Jaffrey, New Hampshire who also put on the Jaffrey Festival of Fireworks. On Sunday, May 18, 2008, The Beach Boys performed in a concert on the Wellesley High School athletic fields in front of an estimated 10,000 town residents and fans. The funds for the performance, an estimated 250 thousand dollars, were made as a gift by an anonymous donor and lifelong fan of the band.
The Wellesley Symphony Orchestra
The Wellesley Symphony Orchestra presents classical, pops, and family concerts at Mass Bay Community College at its Wellesley Campus.
The town of Wellesley is home to several religious institutions. There is one temple, Temple Beth Elohim, and several churches: Wellesley Congregational Church, St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, St. Paul's Catholic Church, Christ Church United Methodist, Wellesley Hills Congregational Church (also known as The Hills Church), First Church of Christ-Scientist, St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, The Metrowest Baptist Church, Elmwood Chapel, and Unitarian Universalist Society of Wellesley Hills Wellesley Friends Meeting (Quakers).
The Wellesley College campus includes greenhouses and the H. H. Hunnewell Arboretum. This is not to be confused with the neighboring private H. H. Hunnewell estate. The Elm Bank Horticulture Center is home to the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. Although the entrance is in Wellesley, access is over a small private bridge over the Charles River, so Elm Bank is therefore in the neighboring town of Dover.
- Johnny Angel Wendell, Radio host, author and musician
- Danny Ainge, executive director of basketball operations and general manager of the Boston Celtics
- Emily Greene Balch, professor, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, 1946
- Roger Nash Baldwin, co-founder of American Civil Liberties Union
- Arthur Batcheller, U.S Radio Inspecter
- Katharine Lee Bates, author of America the Beautiful
- Gamaliel Bradford, poet, biographer
- Dee Brown, former basketball player for the Boston Celtics
- R. Nicholas Burns, former US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, U.S. Ambassador to NATO (2001–2005) and to Greece (1997–2001) and State Department Spokesman (1995–1997)
- Karl E. Case, developer of the Case-Shiller index
- Dan Chiasson, poet and New Yorker critic
- Greg Comella, former professional football player with the NY Giants, Titans, Texans and Buccaneers
- Jane Curtin, comedian, original cast member of Saturday Night Live
- Richard Darman, economist, former head of the Office of Management and Budget
- Blake Dietrick, WNBA basketball player with the Seattle Storm and former standout with the Princeton Tigers
- Dennis Eckersley, former pitcher for the Oakland A's
- Carl Everett, former center fielder for the Boston Red Sox
- Nicole Freedman (born 1972), Olympic cyclist
- Nate Freiman (born 1986), first baseman for the Oakland Athletics
- Wendell Arthur Garrity Jr., U.S. District Court judge
- Curt Gowdy, sports commentator
- Michael S. Greco, President of American, Massachusetts & New England Bar Associations
- Ed Harding, news anchor for WCVB Channel 5
- H. H. Hunnewell (1810-1902), railroad financier and horticulturist
- Andrea Jung, CEO of Avon Products
- Mindy Kaling, comedian, actress
- Phil Laak, professional poker player, winner of 2004 World Poker Tour
- Xihong Lin, Department of Biostatistics Chair at the Harvard School of Public Health
- Gregory Mankiw, Harvard Economics Professor
- Daisuke Matsuzaka, pitcher for the Boston Red Sox
- Fred McLafferty, professor, analytical chemist, author, inventor, leading developer of mass spectrometry
- Ossian Everett Mills, founder of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia fraternity
- Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America
- Bill Mueller, former third baseman for the Boston Red Sox
- Joseph E. Murray, surgeon, winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine, 1990
- Vladimir Nabokov, Russian-American author
- Joe Nash, retired NFL player for the Seattle Seahawks
- David George Ouellet, Medal of Honor recipient (Posthumously)
- Sylvia Plath, poet and author, The Bell Jar
- Richard Preston and Douglas Preston, best-selling authors
- Aneesh Raman, former presidential speechwriter at the White House and CNN Middle East Correspondent
- James St. Clair, defense lawyer for Richard Nixon during Watergate
- Edward Thomas Ryan, President, American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene; Professor, Harvard University
- Jack Sanford, former MLB pitcher, 1957 MLB Rookie of the Year Award recipient
- Billy Squier, rock musician
- Brad Stevens, head coach of the Boston Celtics
- Biz Stone, Twitter co-founder, entrepreneur graduated from Wellesley High School spoke at Wellesley's Babson College commencement in 2011
- Steven Tyler, rock musician, lived in Wellesley during the late 1990s and early 2000s.
- Michael von Clemm, Banker, anthropologist and founder of Canary Wharf
- Rasheed Wallace, retired professional basketball player
- Greg Yaitanes, Emmy award-winning film director, writer, actor
- Eddie Yost, baseball player and coach.
- Katharine Coman, historian, professor of economics and sociology, Author of The economic beginnings of the Far West
- Town of Wellesley
- Recycling & Disposal Facility (Wellesley RDF)
- The Swellesley Report
- The Wellesley Townsman
- Newcomers' Club of Wellesley
- Wellesley Police Photo Division
- Wellesley Historical Society
- Wellesley History Blog