Looking Back and Forward
As we reflect on the past year, it occurs to us that the Town’s biggest challenges were also some of our biggest accomplishments. Confronting the ongoing pandemic, our public health officials, capably led by our Board of Health, mobilized to offer multiple vaccine clinics, tracked cases and fielded untold numbers of inquiries. The pandemic made us appreciate outdoor spaces, and as a result the Council extended outdoor dining opportunities, granted a new boating concession to our local Boys and Girls Club, and adopted a revised Lake Policy that limits large events so that everyone can enjoy the beauty of Lake Quannapowitt.
Perhaps because of all the outdoor time, we heard increased, and justifiable, demands for better sidewalk and biking infrastructure. In response, we are working with the Municipal Area Planning Council (MAPC) on a Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan. The comprehensive Vision 2030 process completed this fall also reflected a growing desire to protect open spaces and safety while increasing housing, business, and community opportunities. The information gained from these initiatives will be used as the Planning Board, aided by a robust Advisory Group of 26 residents with broad backgrounds and interests, embarks on developing Wakefield’s Master Plan to look more deeply at land use, zoning, historical preservation and a myriad of other critical areas.
Across town, we witnessed gatherings that once seemed routine, but now seem remarkable. In 2021, we enjoyed grassroots efforts to clean up Wakefield, an open-air high school graduation, a somber 9/11 ceremony, Pumpkins on the Plaza, the laying of wreaths on Veterans’ gravestones, art shows at the newly renovated ACE building, a full community garden, WAAV’s annual 5K, a Hartshorne House tea party, and the Fall in Love with Wakefield Festival, among many others.
Of course, we also had our share of challenges and loss in 2021, including the death of our colleague, Peter May, after a courageous battle with ALS. Peter loved Wakefield, and he loved dogs, which is why the dog park that he championed now bears his name. It will continue to be a place for dogs and people to gather and find friendship and strength during good times and bad. Peter absence has left a hole in our hearts and on our Council. A special election to fill the latter is set for February 22 Our regular town elections will be held on April 26th.
All that we accomplished in 2021 was a direct result of the dedication of the hundreds of volunteers and staff that tirelessly work to make Wakefield better. We thank them all and are ready for whatever 2022 has to offer. Wishing you all a happy and healthy new year –
Julie Smith-Galvin, Chair
Mehreen Butt, Vice Chair
Wakefield Town Council