Pond Rd., one of Wellesley’s seven scenic roads, may be about to change. The area has already undergone a transformation with the construction of two new residences on 194 and 196 Pond Rd., but the owner of the property at 200 Pond Rd. recently sold the land to an investment firm that intends to develop an assisted living and memory care facility at the location. Although the facility will support the lack of senior care units in Natick and Wellesley, there have been concerns raised about the impact this development will have on the environment and scenery of the area.

Located just below Route 135, this development is unlike past ones because it encompasses parts of both Natick and Wellesley. Because of this, the developer, Welltower Inc., will be required to receive approval from both town governments. The project is expected to cover 5.25 acres (228,690 feet) in Natick and 4.40 acres (191,694 feet) in Wellesley, totaling an area of 9.65 square acres (420,384 square feet) in both towns. 

The proposed project aims to support the supply of assisted living and memory care facilities in Natick and Wellesley by adding 96 assisted living units and 34 memory care units. According to the official 200 Pond Road website, there are 12,007 seniors over the age of 65 across Natick and Wellesley, a number that is expected to increase by 14 percent to 13,688 in the next five years. Of these 12,007 seniors, 1,505 need assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) which include bathing, dressing, getting in and out of a bed or chair, walking, using the toilet, and eating; however, one out of ten local seniors have access to assisted living or memory care in Natick and Wellesley. In Natick and Wellesley, there is a total supply of 229 Assisted Living units, meeting 15.22 percent of the demand, and a total supply of 73 Memory Care units, meeting 5.06 percent of the demand. 

However, the 200 Pond Road development plan has encountered conflicts. A change.org petition started on January 5 by the Preserve Pond Road Foundation aims to prevent this major commercial development. This petition has collected more than 1,700 signatures from people looking to prevent this project. The Foundation states that the development will impact the natural resources in the wooded area around Pond Rd. Despite the conservation restrictions in both towns, the petition states that the project will lead to the removal of trees and deforestation, consequently damaging the rural environment of the area. The Foundation also claims that the proposed project will not benefit low-income senior residents as the facilities are costly and therefore intended only for wealthier families and individuals. According to the petition, “If this parcel is rezoned, it will allow for any type of development to take place on the site. For example, if in the future, the assisted living facility fails, it could be turned into any number of large commercial facilities, i.e. apartments. This is Pandora’s box, and once it is opened, it can’t be undone.” 

The Wellesley Select Board voted 5-0 against the 200 Pond Road development agreement on January 16. 

“All board members agree that there is a real need for more senior care/elderly housing in our communities. The 5-0 vote against a development agreement reflected their views that right now there are still too many unknowns about this project, and since the Town of Natick has yet to even discuss this project, it’s too early in the process for Wellesley to enter into any development agreement,” said Stephanie Hawkinson, a public information officer for the town of Wellesley. 

At present, the continuation of this project is still undecided. Town Meetings are expected to commence on March 25, but the discussion regarding the 200 Pond Road development is not likely to be addressed until April 3.

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