Monthly Archives: January 2013

Worcester Meetings, Midweek Update

This week: City Council hears about Triage Center, seeks answers on Willis Center, votes for anti-panhandling plan. Also: School Committee considers Common Core, Exam Schools. And: an Open Space meeting.

Recap: City Council meeting

  • Members of the Worcester Unemployment Action Group spoke at the meeting about safety and health concerns at the Triage Center (formerly the PIP shelter).

  • The Council will be seeking more information from state officials on the circumstances surrounding the ending of state contracts with the Willis Center and the transfer of those contracts to SMOC.

  • The Council asked the City Manager for a report on possible non-city funding for bike lanes in Worcester.

  • The City Council voted, 9-2, to implement anti-panhandling ordinances. A handout with some, but not all, of the ordinances is being distributed to frequent solicitors.

Preview: School Committee meetings

  • Teaching, Learning, and Student Supports Subcommittee Meeting: January 31 at 5:30pm (subcommittees meet in the 4th floor of the Durkin Administration Building). School Committee member Novick writes: “Two biggies on the agenda: an update on curriculum renewal, and the implementation on the Common Core standards.”

  • Ad Hoc Committee on the Establishment of an Exam School and/or Baccalaurate Program Meeting: Thursday, January 31, 7:30 PM. Ms. Novick also notes: “The Ad-Hoc committee will be reviewing two reports from administration: one from Mr. Perda regarding admissions, and one from Mr. Allen on budget. The committee will then vote to recess to executive session for the purposes of reviewing a draft report, which will be public next month.”

“Open Space” meetings

  • The next one is Jan 31.

    Every 5 to 7 years the City of Worcester crafts a plan for what unprotected open spaces are important to conserve, and what efforts should be taken to improve the ponds, meadows, wetlands, and forests we rely on.

    This is that time and there will be meetings held all over the City of Worcester to solicit citizen input. You only need to attend one meeting to give your feedback.

Clark News: “SPREE DAY DOOMED?”

Some online are describing the reaction to this as “chaos,” but the Clark campus seemed icy and sedate today:

Spree Day, as we know it, is no more.

One of Clark’s oldest traditions met its sudden demise at a Student Council meeting on Wednesday, January 23 with an announcement from Director of Student Leadership and Programming Michael McKenna, who has instead decided to replace it with a weekend-long festival (“Freudstock”) without consulting the vast majority of the student body. Indeed, despite announcing this in front of Student Council, he asked no feedback from them, instead coming before the Council to ask for $15,000 to increase the budget for the comedian who will become the focal point of the weekend’s Saturday activities.

While McKenna made it clear that not all of the activities are set in stone, he was clear that the tradition of Tuesday Spree Days was permanently over in favor of this currently unnamed weekend (which some Student Council members have taken to calling “Spree Weekend”).

(In probably-unrelated news, all the timestamps on the Scarlet blog seem to be broken.)

Tim Murray: No Gov or Statewide Run in 2014

Bobbing for Big Boys

Prominent Worcesterite and Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray won’t be running for Governor or anything else statewide in 2014:

However, as I contemplate the commitment required over the next 20 months (and the following four years as Governor) and weigh that against my obligations and responsibilities to my young family, I have decided that I will not be a candidate for Governor in the 2014 election cycle. Nor will I be a candidate for any other statewide office in 2014.

Worcester Meeting Updates, January 16

This week: School Committee will consider security, school budget, Theater District, medical marijuana, WRA, panhandling, Willis Center, Library parking lot ideas.

  1. School security to be discussed
  2. Upcoming school budget to be discussed
  3. Theater District meeting upcoming
  4. Medical marijuana not derailed
  5. Rebooting the Worcester Redevelopment Authority moves forward
  6. Anti-panhandling Plan #3 passed
  7. Firefighters will be helped with fundraising spots
  8. Willis Center closing controversy fades, in one respect
  9. Library Board Meeting, January 15 liveblogged

Continue reading Worcester Meeting Updates, January 16

Worcester: “Classic American”

On Reddit:

Worcester is fucking beautiful. I’ll start it there.

It is . . . classic American, in the best of ways. All the best stereotypes.

The city, population 170,000 is very widely spread across a forest. No, seriously. One man must have put a stake in the forest at one point or another and said “fuck it, I’m making a city here.” Everywhere you go, there’s trees. There’s lakes. There’s nature. That’s something I’ve seen that Canada has more than anywhere else – it’s a very true stereotype – and maybe that’s one of the reasons I like Canada so much. Anyway.

City Council Preview: Urban Renewal Edition

This week: medical marijuana, panhandling, urban renewal, and the Willis Center. If you’d like to get these previews in your email, subscribe here.

1. Medical marijuana

2. Reports on panhandling

3. Rebooting the Worcester Redevelopment Authority

4. Helping Firefighters with anti-panhandling restrictions

5. Willis Center closing controversy

6. Worcester’s third anti-panhandling plan

7. “Open Space” meeting

8. “Theater District” meeting

Continue reading City Council Preview: Urban Renewal Edition

Aaron Swartz (RIP) remembers a visit to Worcester

The great technologist and activist Aaron Swartz committed suicide January 11.

He had some local connections, and back in 2005 wrote of a trip to Worcester.

Worcester is an odd city. It’s an hour away from Boston, yet it looks just like part of the city, not a suburb. But despite looking like a city — blocks and blocks of retail and business and things — the streets are completely empty. And while it contains several colleges, it doesn’t feel at all like a college town. And — and maybe this last part is just the Downhill Battle guys — but everything looks like it’s from the 70s.

Worcester City Update: Panhandling, Open Space planning, Theater District planning, new sports fields at Lake Park, and Community Development Block Grants

Here’s one thing that happened at this week’s City Council meeting, and a couple upcoming meetings that might catch your interest. Panhandling, Open Space planning, Theater District planning, new sports fields at Lake Park, and Community Development Block Grants.

Upcoming meeting previews

  • Panhandling: The City Council is scheduled to discuss anti-panhandling plan #3 at the Jan 15 meeting. More on that in our next City Council preview. Summary of last committee meeting on panhandling.
  • The next “Open Space” meeting is Jan 17.

    Every 5 to 7 years the City of Worcester crafts a plan for what unprotected open spaces are important to conserve, and what efforts should be taken to improve the ponds, meadows, wetlands, and forests we rely on.

    This is that time and there will be meetings held all over the City of Worcester to solicit citizen input. You only need to attend one meeting (any of those listed) to give your feedback.

    The Jan 17 meeting is at Green Hill Park.

  • Theater District Meeting: Plans are afoot to transform the southern part of Downtown. The City and the WBDC put together a draft master plan for how to develop the “Theater District” (the area from the Hanover Theatre to the library, and the Mid Town Mall). If done right, this is a great opportunity to right past wrongs and make that part of downtown work as part of a greater urban core.

    A Community Discussion of the proposed master plan will be held on Wednesday, January 23, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at The Hanover Theatre.

City Council meeting results

  • Council voted to send this to their Youth, Parks & Recreation Committee: Should the City lease Lake Park from the state and build a football/soccer field there?

    Item text: “8a. Recommend Adoption of an Order with the General Court to Authorize the Department of Conservation and Recreation to Utilize the City of Worcester to Create and Operate a Football/Soccer Field at the Lake Avenue Park.”

    The relevant committee met 4 times last year, so we should see followup relatively soon.

    More from Worcester Magazine.

For What It’s Worth

  • Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) applications are available for download from the City website and are due on Tuesday, Jan. 22 by 5pm. If you don’t really know about the CDBG program, then you’re probably in over your head thinking you can compete with all the large non-profits in Worcester for big $. These are also reimbursement grants so if you are accepted, you need to spend your non-profit’s money and then sometime later the City will reimburse you. You can email Christina Andreoli andreolic@worcesterma.gov if you want to know whether all the application paperwork is worth your time.

    Overview, Documents

Worcester City Council agenda preview

Some highlights (such as they are) from this week’s Worcester City Council agenda. Narcan, new sports fields at Lake Park, a dog park, mixed-use zoning downtown, a tweak to Council rules.

* Item 7f: Billy Breault continues his narcan follow-up. Mr. Breault is a neighborhood activist who’s opposed things like medical marijuana an used-syringe disposal boxes. In this case, he opposes ordinary people possessing narcan. If someone is overdosing on heroin, you can stick them with narcan and it’ll save their life.

For the past couple years, narcan’s been distributed in Worcester, and Mr. Breault has been bird-dogging the issue with various petitions to the City Council.

Item text: ” William Breault on behalf of the Main South Alliance for Public Safety request City Council request the City Manager provide a report concerning the city’s policy for dealing with the distribution of Naloxone (narcan) at so called “911 Good Samaritan Law” pilot sites in Worcester and if no policy is in place request the City Manager make recommendations and report as to the role the State Department of Public Health has in the development and implementation of this program in Worcester.”

* Item 8a: Should the City lease Lake Park from the state and build athletic fields there?

Item text: “Recommend Adoption of an Order with the General Court to Authorize the Department of Conservation and Recreation to Utilize the City of Worcester to Create and Operate a Football/Soccer Field at the Lake Avenue Park.”

More from Worcester Magazine.

* Item 9b: Could we have a dog park in Worcester?

Item text: “Request City Manager update City Council concerning the feasibility of designating a dog park in the city. (Rivera)”

* Item 9f: Downtown zoning. Konnie Lukes is asking if we could make zoning changes to get more mixed-use development downtown.

Item text: “Request City Manager review zoning ordinances for downtown Worcester to consider a change from business only to mixed residential and business for the purpose of encouraging mixed use of buildings located in downtown. (Lukes)”

The CitySquare development is supposed to have lots of mixed-use stuff, but some people are concerned because so far there has been a lot of not-mixed-use construction.

* Item 9i: A City Council rules change. Last week there was a Joint Committee meeting (on panhandling) and Konnie Lukes was on both committees that made up the Joint Committee, so when it was time to make a decision she got two votes. Here, she’s asking for a Joint Committee to be treated like one big committee, in which case she would have gotten only one vote.

“Request City Council consider amending Council Rules to allow a joint committee to act as an Ad Hoc committee for the purpose of hearing and voting on joint referrals with each committee member casting a single vote for each jointly referred agenda item, rather than casting a vote for each jointly referred item as a member of each separate standing committee. (Lukes)”

A Worcester paramedic on narcan:

Some highlights from other municipal meetings this week:
Zoning Board of Appeals – Monday, 1/7 at 5:30pm – agenda
They’ll be discussing a proposal to convert 371 and 379 Main Street to 60 units of market-rate housing, at least half of which will be used by MCPHS students.
More from Worcester Magazine.

Election Commission – Monday, 1/7 at 6:00pm – agenda
Among other things, they will be discussing the rate of people who do not return the annual street listing (“city census”).

City Council Economic Development Committee – Tuesday, 1/8 at 5:30pm – agenda
They’ll be discussing the proposed streetscaping and urban design guidelines for downtown and the Canal District.

Historical Commission, Thursday, 1/10, at 5:30pm – agenda
They will be considering whether to grant demolition delay waivers on the complete demolition of the following buildings. If they don’t grant the waiver, the owners have to wait a full year before tearing down the building:
332 Main Street (The Central Building; next to the Commerce Building) more info
70 Elm Street (Gardner Paine House)