By Edith Morgan
We Worcesterites are in the midst of making decisions about many of the distinctive structures that dot our city, and that give testimony to some part of our history. In the cse of some, the decision has already been made, and they have either been razed and replaced (for example, The Odd Fellows Home on Randolph Road), or “repurposed” (like the Higgins Armory building, whose collection is now part of the Worcester Art Museum’s collections).
Still in limbo are Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, and under threat of being razed is Notre Dame des Canadiens. And countless old school buildings are now condominiums, scattered in various parts of the city.
Resurrected beautifully, a number of buildings now serve their original purposes: Union Station, so long left to disintegrate, now stands proudly beside the I 290 highway, host once again to trains and now also busses going to many places far and near. The Hanover Theatre too is a joy to attend, as is the jewel of Worcester restorations, Mechanics Hall, also saved from disintegration. And this past week, Memorial Grove in Green Hill Park, while not a building, was replanted in time for Memorial Day 2016.
While Worcester is not yet really a great tourist destination, we are taking steps to put ourselves on the map. What other destination cities have that we still do not have is a pedestrian-friendly environment. We are still plagued by narrow streets, too much traffic, narrow and uneven sidewalks, and lack of consistent street signs that enable newcomers to our city to get around.
My husband and I just returned from a long trip around the U.S., and we have both in the past travelled widely around various parts of the world. So we have had a chance to look at what makes other places attractive to people. Each place hs its own attractions: sometimes it is geography (unusual scenery, water, hills and mountains, perfect climate, etc.); sometimes it is newness and cleanliness, and a sensible layout of streets and walks; other times it is trails through nature, or through historical sites – even cemeteries and monuments commemorating important events. Whatever the attraction, there is sufficient public support to publicize these “wonders” and to welcome visitors.
One feature that ALL these cited have is that they are very well maintained: they are not trashed by either inhabitants or visitors, and there is always a staff continuously cleaning, pruning, replanting and repainting so that all always looks attractive, safe and really cared for. There is a commitment to daily maintenance because there is an understanding that no matter how beautiful your structures are, and how great your parks and buildings are, no one will feel safe if sites seem neglected and abandoned.
So, Worcester, let’s decide what we want to show off and really commit to paying to keep it all looking and feeling inviting to all!