A tale of two cities (or: I’ve got the sucky sidewalk blues)

By Rosalie Tirella

Years ago, I lived on Dewey Street. It wasn’t a great time in my life, and my environment seemed to echo my dire straits – down to the beat-up street and sidewalk. Bumpty, bumpety, bumpety … bump. I got minor whiplash driving down Dewey Street back then.With all its potholes and patch-jobs and tornup sidewalk – especially the stretch from Oberlin Street to Chandler Street – I wondered how kids in the neighborhood safely walked to school (you had to spend a good deal of your trek on the street that lies behind Park Ave and skirts through Main South/Piedmont).To make matters worse, the dumpy street seemed to be an open invitation to slobs of every stripe. People threw away lots of trash on Dewey Street. One Christmas morning I awoke to a dumped sofa and soiled pampers on the sidewalk in front of the three-decker next door. Ho. Ho. Ho.

Well, here it is decades later and a drive down the same stretch of Dewey Street – no doubt named after Worcester’s famous Dewey’s – is still a depressing experience. Look at the photos I took! The street is still busted up, the sidewalk is still torn up and trash is king.

So, of course, the City of Worcester would embark on a new program in which WEST SIDE homeowners will actually be paid to fix their sidewalks in front of their homes, and people – especially renters – in places like Main South, Quinsigamond Village and South Worcester – will have to live with their shitty sidewalks and streets. So what if a little kid gets run over trying to walk on Old Blackstone Road in Quinsigamond Village because there are NO SIDEWLKS outside his/her house? He or she isn’t the son or daughter or a Worcester city councilor. He/she just attends the Quinsig Community School. Just an average kid with parents who rent… .

A tale of two cities. The haves vs. the have nots. The lawyers versus the nurses aides. The Fletcher’s versus the Rodriguez’s.

Why can’t Department of Public Works and Parks head Robert Moylan pull his head out of his ass and FIX THE STREETS AND SIDEWALKS that are in dire need of repair? Why mess around with Salisbury Street?

But that’s what happened at a recent Worcester City Council meeting. Moylan was beside himself, extolling the virtues of a West Side plan to keep – of course – the West Side’s sidewalks in tip-top shape. The plan, the brainchild of, among others, Mr. Pagano, a west sider bizarrely attached to the cement outside his house, calls for people who want their sidewalks repaired to bypass the City of Worcester’s list of broken sidewalks and call their own contractor or cement guy to fix their sidewalk. They pay half the bill. The City of Worcester will pay the other half. And for their trouble, the homeowner’s property taxes will be reduced for x number of years for the amount of money they spent on their sidewalk repair.

How unfair! And at worst, how crooked. What if a contractor decides to do his own walk, and gets paid by the City of Worcester to do the – his/her – job? Or: why is that homeowners can leverage their homes to jump in front of renters who can’t use their apartments to repair the sidewalks in front of their homes. You know, the people who live in the three-deckers of Dewey Street.

It’s a case of if you own property, you can get special treatment, and even MAKE money.

Moylan is all for this idea! So was the Worcester City Council. City Councilors congratulated Pagano on his thinking outside the box. If only we could stuff these pin-heads into a box and ship it to … Darfur.

We urge all our readers to tell city/elected officials that we do not want to live A TALE OF TWO CITIES – be a city with two sets of sidewalks. The nice ones in the nice part of town – and the crappy ones in … our neighborhoods. Please call City Manager Mike O’Brien at 508- 799-1333 to voice your opinion and to give him the name of your distressed street/sidewalk.

Tell the city manager you’ve got the sucky sidewalk blues.