Editor’s note: The following was submitted by the Wakefield Center Neighborhood Association.
WAKEFIELD — When the Wakefield Center Neighborhood Association (WCNA) went looking for a new project, they didn’t have to look far. While putting up the lights up in the trees for the annual holiday light display, the members noticed the poor condition of the fence rails on the Veterans Memorial Common. Having just completed the repainting of the bandstand on the Lower Common and the installation of the second phase of the Spaulding Street playground, the WCNA was ready for a new project.
Repairing the fence on the Veterans Memorial Common seemed the obvious choice.
After doing some research, WCNA member Joe Harrington identified Schiff Architectural Detail of Chelsea. “Looking at projects on their website, it appeared that Schiff might have the experience we would need to complete the project,” said Harrington. “I e-mailed them, explaining that we are a Wakefield-based charity looking to do much of the work ourselves but needing parts and expertise.” Harrington explains, “From the minute I spoke with Jeff Schiff I knew we had found the right guy for the job.” Schiff replied to the e-mail and then called and spent 45 minutes explaining how the fences are built, how the pieces are made and assembled and describing other similar fences in the area.
“At our next meeting I laid out the information I had gathered and said to the group, this is the guy we want,” Harrington said.
Schiff drove to Wakefield in the fall to meet with DPW Director Rick Stinson and WCNA members at Town Hall. Having first walked around the Common to get a good look, Schiff arrived in the conference room on the first floor of Town Hall with buckets of fence parts. Schiff spent the better part of the morning showing different castings and explaining how and how not to replace the fence so it would last.
The fence is believed to have been installed in the late 1800s and is the original structure.
At the next WCNA meeting the members debated and then voted to go ahead with the project and replace the east side fencing on the Veterans Memorial Common. Having only enough funds to do half, the project would be done in two phases. Phase one would replace 20 sections of rail with new decorative castings and pipe, all with the existing familiar deep green color. In the meantime measurements needed to be taken between each granite post. Peter Scott, local architect and founding member of the WCNA, got right to work, spending countless hours taking notes and measurements of the fence rail on the east side. After surveying the fence in its entirety, Scott noted that the west side is in surprisingly good shape compared to the east. The thought is that the cars parked on the west side both protect the fence from accidents and splashing salt water that is found on the Main Street side where there is no parking allowed and constant spray from the passing cars.
After a long winter of waiting for good weather, this past Saturday WCNA members, with the help of Joe Gaudreau and Butch Gaw of the DPW Highway Department, removed over 20 sections of fence. The removed sections will not be thrown away, “the old castings salvaged from those first 20 bays will be used in future replacements,” said Scott, describing how the recently removed old castings can be stripped and refurbished and used in the next phase of the project.
The WCNA has a long history of working on projects on and around the Common. Started originally by members of the Lincoln School PTO who enjoyed each other’s company, the WCNA has raised and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for various projects mainly on the common and downtown. Some of the past projects include; the original Spaulding Street playground and then its replacement, refurbishment and ongoing maintenance of the fountain on the Rockery as well as flower plantings in the spring and fall, refurbishment and ongoing maintenance of the bandstand and installation of irrigation and pathway lighting on Veterans Memorial Common. “It’s what we do” commented current President John Carrick, “it is an esthetic thing that is in the purview of the WCNA.” Discussing the group’s past and future, Carrick commented “We always welcome new members who enjoy volunteering their time, getting their hands dirty and getting together with fellow citizens to enhance the town in which we live.”
The bulk of the funding for the WCNA’s projects comes from the annual Festival by the Lake craft fair held on the Lower Common every June. The WCNA does receive donations at their other sponsored events, the holiday lighting and spring egg hunt but the Festival provides the funds to maintain and start new projects.
The WCNA would like to complete the rest of the fencing on the east side as quickly as possible but will need to replenish their funds before continuing. People interested in donating their time in helping with the project are encouraged to visit the group’s website www.wcna.org. Anyone interested in donating money can do so by sending a check of any amount payable to WCNA and addressed to WCNA, PO Box 485, Wakefield MA 01880.