Fear Factor


grenier“Your decision will decide if Wakefield becomes more like Medford or more like Lynnfield,” attorney Alan Grenier warned the Zoning Board of Appeals last week.

Grenier had asked for and was granted an opportunity to present to the Zoning Board the opposition case against building the 130-unit Brightview Senior Living facility proposed on Crescent Street. Grenier’s client is Andrea Sullivan, who lives at 12 Crescent St.

The size and density of the proposed Brightview project, Grenier maintained, was more in character with the city of Medford than the upscale Lynnfield.

Grenier also suggested that with units priced in excess of $5,000 per month, few people from Wakefield would be able to afford to move into Brightview’s local facility.

Apparently, only rich people like those from Lynnfield will be able to afford to live in Brightview, but if it gets built it will turn Wakefield into Medford.

This kind of class warfare-based, urbanization scare tactic is nothing new. It’s been around at least since I was a kid growing up in Wakefield. But no one ever talked about Medford. Back then, people warned about Malden’s urban blight creeping up Main Street through Melrose and infecting Wakefield. It even had a name: “Maldenization.”

But attorney Grenier can be forgiven for citing the wrong urban bugaboo. He’s from Topsfield, after all.

The grass is greener, according Grenier, in Lynnfield. But do Wakefield people really aspire to be more like Lynnfield? I’m a Wakefield native and I’ve never detected that Lynnfield-envy vibe.

Still, that doesn’t stop people from comparing us unfavorably to other communities. We’re always told, for example, that our downtown should look more like Melrose’s downtown, or Reading’s.dollar_tree

Can someone please tell me why Wakefield can’t look like Wakefield? Not that Wakefield’s downtown couldn’t use some improvement, but it is happening, albeit slowly.

Is there any doubt that the old, vacant former CVS building looks nicer since the new landlord made exterior improvements and Dollar Tree moved in? The discount chain store may not have been everybody’s first choice for the type of business they’d like to see in the square, but everyone agrees that it beats a tired, old, empty storefront.

And what are the new CVS and the new Galvin Middle School at the south end of the square? Chopped liver?

Rome wasn’t revitalized in a day.

The proposed Brightview building will not be small, but it’s also not going to be some high-rise, brick tenement building of the sort conjured up by urbanization fear mongers.

Our local officials and town board members live in this town too.

I don’t think they want to live in Lynnfield, but I’m pretty sure they don’t want to turn us into Medford either.

[This column originally appeared in the July 2, 2015 Wakefield Daily Item.]

One Response to “Fear Factor”

  1. WaKefield is already Malden, East Boston, Revere, Everett. It is no longer a townies town. And what is wrong with Medford? Hello! Lynnfield is East Boston, except those East Boston People forget where they came from. I moved to Wakefield 31 years ago, loved it and watched it change drastically. It is about moving from the City to a small cozy town which Wakefield is no longer. I can honestly say I loved it, I miss it, I never felt like I belonged except when I was in Farmland with those Medfird owners and I never forgot Where I was from or who I was. EAST BOSTON

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