By Lorraine Michele Laurie
Do you know the area between Endicott, Harding and Canton Streets and Quinsigamond Ave.? That’s right, it’s Crompton Park! It was bought from Mrs. Mary Crompton, widow of George Crompton, the famous inventor, loom maker, good employer, landowner, and patriotic citizen of Worcester. George Crompton died in 1886 and Mary sold the 12.73 acres to the City of Worcester for a playground for $44,350.00 in 1888.
Many a Worcester resident enjoyed swimming in the “mud hole,” sliding down the “hill,” skating on the ice in the open space where the softball fields are today or taking a shower in the old bathhouse. In those days, many of the houses in the Island did not have bathtubs so taking a shower in the bath house was a real treat. The cost was 5 cents and you got soap and a towel. When you returned the towel, you got your 5 cents back!
Well, so much for history and fond memories. Two thousand and fifteen going into two thousand and sixteen will be a busy time at Crompton Park. It’s renovation time! The area to be updated, made more accessible and more easily maintained is the Canton Street side of the park. That’s the swimming pool side between Harding Street and Quinsigamond Ave. Crompton Park has its beautiful ultra modern swimming complex, a modern play ground and of course the Green Island Neighborhood Center there. Now is the time to tie everything together.
Robert C. Antonelli, Jr., Assistant Commissioner for Parks – City of Worcester – Department of Public Works and Parks, recently updated residents about the planned renovations at the Green Island Residents Group, Inc. annual meeting held at the Green Island Neighborhood Center. Mr. Antonelli said that the proposed project is going through the bidding phase. The bids should be opened in a couple of weeks. The City is a recipient of a PARC (Parkland Acquisitions and Renovation for Communities) state grant for $400,000. The City is matching it with $750,000. in funds including CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) monies. There are certain requirements to be followed because of the CDBG money. Crompton Park, Castle Park and Shore Park have been highlighted to receive renovation money this year. When the bids come in and the winning bid is chosen, the City will be able to determine if other work can be added for Crompton Park.
Actual work will start at the end of August and continue through May and June so as not to interfere with the pool schedule, the Tenacity program and the operations of the Green
Island Neighborhood Center. Renovations will focus on continuing to make Crompton Park a valuable resource and an area of pride for the neighborhood as well as the City. The Canton Street side will be made more accessible and safer. The entrance way and parking area will be moved to the other side of the swimming pool complex. That will create a green space between the playground and the swimming pool area. A new parking lot to the left of the pool will provide more controlled parking spaces and a safer entrance to the park. Also, renovations will keep in mind maintenance issues so renovated areas will be much easier to care for and kept in shape longer.
Renovations will also include upgraded tennis courts and a hand ball court which will be closer to the corner of Canton Street and Quinsigamond Ave. When asked what he would like to see done next from the Master Plan, Assistant Commissioner Antonelli named three areas – not in any particular order- a rubber surface for the playground so it will be softer, safer and more accessible, renovation of the very popular and heavily used basketball court “Cousy Court” and renovations to the softball field which alone will cost $1 or $2 million.
Since most of the residents who attended the Green Island Residents Group. Inc. annual meeting also participated in the public planning sessions held at the Green Island Neighborhood Center in late 2010 and early 2011, they gave suggestions to fine tune the work already done and to give a request for the new work planned. They suggested some benches be installed in the playground area for adults who accompany their children and also a need to provide some shade for this area. Also, install a few benches in the pool area. In regards to the planned renovations, a request was made to preserve the existing trees. One longtime resident said it was so nice to see a group of children sitting with their teachers underneath the trees recently and relaxing and enjoying the park.
Our Green Island or Island “Jewel” shines brightly and will be even brighter with the all the updates. We love our Crompton Park, now 14.6 acres, and thank all who help us make it shine!