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Residents seek protection for Brookside Road

Posted by Sarah Thomas  July 28, 2010 09:15 AM

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People who already walk or drive down the tree-lined, wildlife-friendly section of Brookside Road between Wellesley Avenue and Oakland Street already know how scenic the curving half-mile of roadway is. Now, if two Wellesley residents have their say, that scenic character will be officially recognized and preserved.

Laura Fragasso and Tom Harrington, who regularly use the road, asked members of the Wellesley Planning Board this week to take the first steps to designate Brookside a scenic road.

The designation would prohibit residents and abutters - in this case, the Wellesley Country Club, which owns all the land on the west side of the road, and the town of Wellesley on the east - from removing trees, stone walls, or other structures that are part of the road's character.

"The biodiversity along this road is incredible," Fragasso told the board at its meeting Monday night. "There are red and white pine trees, cherry, oak, and locust trees, as well as egrets and a legendary turtle crossing. I find peace and derive wonder every time I go down the road."

Brookside, one of the original roads when Wellesley was first incorporated as a separate town in 1881, was last in the news when the Wellesley Country Club asked the Zoning Board of Appeals for permission to move its golf-cart facilities nearby.

However, the road, which borders Rosemary Brook and crosses Academy Brook, is in a protected water district. The country club has not pursued the matter further.

Before the road can receive the scenic designation, a proposal must be brought to Town Meeting by either the Planning Board or the town's Natural Resources Commission.

The town's engineer would also need to determine exactly how far from the road the protected status would stretch. If the designation is approved, extra signs would be posted designating plants and wildlife along the road as protected.

"I think this is a great example of what a scenic road could be, and my feeling is that the country club, which already has great tree preservation policies in place, would be all for it," said Meghan Jop, the town's planning director. "But it's important we not rush this and do our surveying right."

The Planning Board said it would speak to the town's Natural Resources Commission about the matter, and hopes to have information ready for the next annual town meeting.

Sarah Thomas can be reached at wellesley@boston.com.

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