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

Upcoming Worcester School Committee Meeting, January 17


  1. Several members have filed items on school security. These are all going to administration and will be considered at the next meeting (on February 7) in executive session.

  2. The administration is giving the first round of information on this coming year’s budget. The presentation is not yet posted but will be online soon.

    Enrollment numbers for 2012-13 are available here.

    This gives the full breakdown of how many kids are in the Worcester Public Schools, how many are in each individual class and classroom, and information by poverty level, ethnicity and race, English learning status, and special education need.

Other Upcoming Meetings

  1. 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 Recap, January 15 meeting

  1. Medical Marijuana: Konnie Lukes does not want medical marijuana dispensaries in Worcester. She had a couple items on the agenda raising these concerns. The Council “filed” (ignored) one of these and tabled the other. They would like the state DPH to come to Worcester and have a hearing. Russell wants a report on where dispensaries would fit in the city’s table of zoning uses.

  2. Rebooting the Worcester Redevelopment Authority: Council has asked the Manager for a report on this, which will be considered by the Economic Development Committee when it comes out. The private Worcester Business Redevelopment Corporation (backers of the downtown mall among many other projects) is getting lots of press these days over their dream of replacing the library parking lot with a hockey rink, but the WRA is especially interesting because of the eminent domain powers of city government.

  3. Anti-panhandling Plan #3: This passed, with Rivera and O’Brien voting no and Germain absent. Some of the proposed ordinances involve traffic safety, some involve aggressive behavior, and some involve restrictions on the times and places that you can ask for help in Worcester. This third category has generated some controversy, and yet was totally both ignored in the Joint Committee’s discussion and at the City Council meeting. After the Joint Committee meeting one Councilor admitted they hadn’t noticed that part of the proposal; based on the way Councilors explained the ordinance Tuesday, there were probably several who did not know what was in it.

    This vote was to “advertise” the ordinances. What this means is that they have to place advertisements in the Telegram to let the public know that these will become law. The final vote (which is really a formality) is two weeks after the vote to advertise, on the 29th. Usually these ordinances become effective on passage. So that would mean that if the final vote is Tuesday, the 29th, then the 48 hour reconsideration, it would become effective on Friday, February 1st. No word yet on whether the ACLU or another legal group is looking for a way to sue the city over this.


  4. Helping Firefighters with the Anti-Panhandling Aftermath: This passed. Since the anti-panhandling ordinances would apply to everybody, a couple Councilors want to encourage businesses to allow firefighters to solicit donations on private property.

  5. Willis Center Closing Controversy: Councilor Lukes was concerned about whether the (semi-)closed-door meeting the city held last week about the Willis Center closing was legitimate. After explainations from the mayor and others, she withdrew her concerns.

Other Meeting Recap

  1. Library Board Meeting, January 15: they discussed alternatives to replacing the library parking lot with a hockey rink. Liveblog.

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