Preview: Worcester City Council (April 2)

The previous meeting was cancelled due to snow, so some of these are going to look familiar.

This week’s meeting: billboards, city census, CitySquare, slot machines, litigation, SWIP, and possibly the Theater District Master Plan. Agenda.

  • Gambling: A company wants to build a slot machine “casino” on the old Wyman-Gordon property near the Green Island neighborhood, and bring a new hotel to the city. There is lots of opposition, some from people who think this sort of gambling enterprise will hurt the city, some from people concerned that a new hotel there would damage the chances of getting a fancy new hotel downtown. It’s worth checking the T&G on this, since this is a developing story, and there will be some high-profile hearings about this. Worcester Magazine has a brisk writeup. Opponent Nicole Apostola has a summary of the many City Council agenda items that will be discussed this week. If you are interested in opposing this, there’s a Facebook group.
  • Ad company wants to make I-290 billboard digital: “Transmitting correspondence received from Lamar Advertising notifying of their intention to submit applications to the Outdoor Advertising Board requesting to convert from static to digital on its west facing billboard structure on I-290 located at 28 Garden St. and on both faces of the billboard structure located on I-290 near Route 146 and 45 McKeon Rd.
  • City Census and Absentee Ballots: Every year the City expects you to mail them a census form, or reply via their website, telling them you have not moved and should still be counted as an active voter at your address. According to a report from the City Clerk that will be presente to the Council, in recent years somewhere between a quarter and a half of Worcester’s voters have been on the “inactive” list. Another report shows that somewhere between 1% and 5% of Worcester votes are absentee.
  • CitySquare/Notre Dame: Economic Development Committee is recommending that the old Notre Dame Church and property be allowed to be added to “the CitySquare Priority Development Site”.
  • Litigation: Looks like the Council might recess to a non-public Executive Session to discuss “pending litigation.”
  • South Worcester Industrial Park: For more than 18 years now, the powers-that-be have been trying to get someone to do something with the large SWIP parcel of land. The latest: the Economic Development Committee recommends that parcels within SWIP be designated “Specific Economic Opportunity Areas”.
  • The Theater District Master Plan: Tracy Novick has the details. This was introduced but tabled at the last Council meeting. It will likely be discussed this week. If you have an opinion about whether the Library parking lot should be turned into a hockey rink or something potentially more interesting, today would be a good day to contact your City Councilors. The plan will likely be sent to a City Council committee for more discussion. Nicole Apostola notes that the public hearings had almost no effect on the (possibly) final wording of the plan.
  • Food trucks: A few years back, the Council drove a lot of hot dog carts and the like out of the city with stringent new restrictions. There’s been a call by Councilor Rushford and others to roll back or change these restrictions. The City Manager will be presenting a report with details on how other cities handle street vendors, so there will possibly be more discussion of this issue.
  • Report on some loands: Worcester Businesss Development Corporation will be getting a HUD loan for $2.5 million for 18-20 Franklin Street, in addition to lots of other tax credits, EPA grants, and other federal grants…and other stuff.
  • Report/discussion of tax incentive deal for the Prescott Street hotel.
  • They’re looking for Council approval on soliciting a bid on a three-year management contract for the four municipal garages. The
    City Council still has not discussed the larger study of parking facilities…but I suppose our existing contract must be up.
  • Negotiations between Worcester and Charter Communications: Report of the Cable Television Advisory Committee on what should be looked at in this year’s negotiations. Charter has a cable monopoly in Worcester and pays the City for it.

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