This summer, the tranquility of our Wellesley (MA) neighborhood cul-de-sac was disrupted by new neighbors. Prior to moving into their home, the purchasers identified a basketball-court-size plot of land on the side of their home containing 8-10 mature trees, some 75-100 years old and cherished by their neighbors, they wanted chopped down. Despite pleas from their neighbors to live in their home several months before making such a drastic decision, they proceeded to clear the land and dump in tons of earth to make a terraced park soon to be covered with new sod and planted saplings. For what purpose? To add pounds of fertilizer and toxic chemicals into the environment? To waste hundreds of gallons of water maintaining an area that probably won’t be used? Nor does this action address the now serious water runoff problem they created for their backyard neighbor.
Our new neighbors have two lovely young girls and they would probably tell you that they are clearing this area as a safe place for their children and friends to play. Having lived on this cul-de-sac for fifteen years and raised two sons along with our neighbors’ thirteen children, we soon learned that the cul-de-sac is the play area of choice and backyards are seldom used. Had our new neighbors lived here awhile, they would have realized a small fenced-in backyard play area for their small children would have been a much wiser decision.
Unfortunately, this was only the first salvo in our ongoing nightmare. Soon after moving in, they decided to paint their house a color that can be best described as “porta-potty blue.” Despite being asked by neighbors to choose a color more consistent with the tenor of the neighborhood, they painted the house a glaring, screaming, visually-offensive color. Of course, living in their house and looking out into our circle, they seem not bothered by it. Personally, I have offered to help them pay for repainting their home and an interior decorator friend has agreed to consult with them at no charge. Now derisively known as the “Smurf House” by neighborhood children, a photo of the house has been displayed on a Facebook page, people drive into our cul-de-sac to view this Wellesley “wonder,” and the house has become a directional landmark.
But as the info commercials says, “but wait.” This week they installed a mega play station with a covered house, swings, slides, ladders and shutes not in their side yard where they cleared the land but in the front yard! Our cul-de-sac looks like a KinderCare Center. One of these covered shutes empties a few feet from their neighbor’s driveway and poses a serious risk of injury to children
These neighbors have seriously affected our cul-de-sac’s quality of life and have probably significantly decreased the resale value of our property. I have no doubt they are decent, educated people and good parents. I do not consider their actions malevolent, but remarkably hasty, unwise and certainly unneighborly. If there is any “take-home” lesson for new home owners moving into Wellesley, it would be: Live in your home a few seasons before making property decisions, meet with your neighbors and discuss your plans, and understand the values of your community. Remember, these are the same neighbors who will look after your children when they are outside playing, remove packages and papers from your front stoop when you are on vacation, celebrate joyous occasions and bring food, comfort and support to you during times of illness or death.