Tag Archives: Blackstone Canal

Animals!! More garbage in the Canal District!

Took these pics two hours ago. This is what folks see when they drive off the Route 290 off ramp to head into the Canal District.


Maybe the City of Worcester needs to consider FREE garbage pickup for all. Residents and biz. Most cities do this! And look much prettier!

– Rose T.


Tweet! Tweet! A little birdie told us Allen Fletcher recently bought this chunk of land in Kelley Square …


.. for around a million bucks. You know the piece of land (pictured above) – it sorta juts out into Kelley Square. It’s the piece of no-man’s land on the corner of Water and Green streets. Mostly used for parking these days …

Should be interesting to see how Allen reinvents the property!

Allen works fast!

He’ll probably have workmen (and workwomen, we hope!) at the site by next year, digging and bulldozing away!


Here’s Allen’s chance to shine! Come through for people who aren’t the latte-drinking, beer-guzzling or narcissistic poseurs who seem to have taken over my old (and present) hood! So fake! So phony! Most have a talent for nothing  … except blatant self-promotion! It’s manipulative … not real. Just public relations. No one is anyone’s friend in the true, warts-and-all sense. Such garbage!


Get back to our roots!

Build up the neighborhood by creating a building/complex/NEW world to draw in:

Children/youth. They could use a branch library or an after-school center in your new space!

The families in the area, many without cars or a lot of dough. They could use a community health center in your new building. A YMCA branch, perhaps?

A CVS would be terrific! We need a pharmacy in the hood!

We need a bank branch, too!

A supermarket or TRADER JOE’S open SEVEN DAYS A WEEK, with normal working person’s hours and AFFORDABLE stuff and amenable to WIC, SNAP cards and the folks who have them (cuz they are poor) IS DESPERATELY NEEDED here!  Has been for YEARS!

If you put in housing, besides the retail, PLEASE make 30% of it affordable! 

MAKE THE NEIGHBORHOOD TRULY DIVERSE AND LIVELY, Allen! Make it more than a haven for preppy young or want-to-be-young bar flies.

Create a vibrant day scene, by putting in families and kids and the more mundane stuff that keeps them doing stuff … create a neighborhood that HUMS during the day!!

You’re a good guy who doesn’t want to exclude folks, a guy who doesn’t want to see the neighborhood become a one-trick pony (barsville). That’s BORING! And you pride yourself on reinvention and risk! PERSONAL GROWTH.

Good luck in your new endeavor! and … DO THE RIGHT THINGS!

– Rosalie!

All over Green Island yesterday, on Millbury Street, Worcester police cruisers, state-ies, drug-/criminal-sniffing German Shepherds …

By Rosalie Tirella

… Oh, my! I said to myself as I drove through the hood yesterday afternoon, running my biz!! So pretty out! So sunny out! Perfect day for a man hunt! Or a huge huge heroin bust!

There they were, three cops, on foot patrol, being led by a single minded German Shepherd dog who was pulling them into all the doorways of all the establishments on Millbury Street. Then the Worcester police cruisers with lights flashing (sirens off), then the state police cruisers with their lights on (also silent) filled the scene.

This city girl said: COOL! I wanna tag along!

In my car, driving slowly, gunking up traffic, I thought: This must be big! Maybe I’m in the middle of a search for a killer or drug-lord or just plain ol’ drugs! I stupidly followed the cops who were working diligently, with their dog. And I caught their adrenaline rush!

Cops may not wanna admit this but they must love the high of the chase, the adrenaline rush! On the edge! You have to think FAST! Very Steve McQueen! Some of their coolness rubbed off on me cuz I got fearless and giddy and felt EXCITED. The officers – two men in their 30s and a woman in her 30s – showed not a smidgen of fear. They smiled as they walked the hood with their lanky dog, and when a car tooted at them (not me!) the gal copper yelled at him: NOW THAT HELPS! Then she looked at her colleagues and smiled. She was beautiful and full of  herself! I like to see fearlessness in women doing dangerous jobs! I hope she is or becomes a mom and raises FEARLESS DAUGHTERS!

The German Shepherd dog had a mind of its own and led the police officers, all crisp and buff, up Endicott Street. I followed along in my jalopy, trying to snap photos.

Then they made a right onto Ward Street, their dog straining, putting his nose into people’s yards and then, as if thinking NOPE!,  moving on to the next property.

I called out to them! You have a beautiful working dog! Here’s mine – Jett! Jett was bounding up and down in the back seat, eager to jump out and play with the working dog, who didn’t even know we were there. HE WAS WORKING THAT HARD. One of the cops, nice enough, but with a smug little smile on his face, said: Ma’am, the dog is working right now!

I said, I know! Then I said who I was and told them I was snapping a few photos for the website and paper.  The cops, youngish and cocky, the queenie and her kings of the hood – until some punk maybe decided to shoot at them (or me!) from a window (everyone and his/her brother seems to own a gun in Worcester!) – looked at each other and grinned. I smiled back.

Spring in the city!

Green Island update

By Maureen Schwab

On Sept. 15, Green Island residents woke to a steady rain that at first seemed like nothing out of the ordinary. On that morning, neighborhood children waited for and boarded school buses at the usual times and places, and were safely transported to school. Shortly thereafter, the intensity of the rain increased and as it did, so did the level of rain water flowing in the streets of Green Island.

At the height of the storm, water at the corner of Canton St. and Quinsigamond Ave was approximately 3ft high, and Crompton Park was submerged under at least 1 ft. of water and raw sewage. The community center, located in Crompton Park sustained damages to goods and property which later had to be discarded. . A friend who lives on Scott St. told me that a car in her driveway was completely submerged b, and the first floor apartment had flooded. Fortunately, the rain stopped and the sun came out by noon. Yes, there was property damage, but no one was hurt and the children returned home safely from school if nothing had ever happened.

The week end before this disaster hit Green Island; I was strolling through Canal Fest. The centerpiece of the event was a recreation of the Blackstone Canal on Harding St, upon which one could take a canoe ride. As I watched the rain flood Quinsigamond Ave that Thursday, I could not help but to think back to Canal Fest. Though inappropriate to be thinking so at the time; I thought how wonderful it would be to have water flowing through Worcester, and that here (Green Island) is where the water is, and was and always will be. The neighborhood is situated above the point where two of Worcester’s largest waterways the Mill Brook (now contained within a man made structure) and the Middle River meet (in the vicinity of Brownian Square). When the rain is heavy, although buried beneath concrete and asphalt, the waterways will act like rivers.

Peter Tsigas, owner of Café Neo, 97 Millbury St, organized a meeting for residents and business owners to voice concerns and to hear from City officials regarding plans to help solve flooding problems in Green Island. The solution is neither easy nor inexpensive. City Manager M. O’Brien and Public Works Commissioner Robert L. Moylan plan to hold a community meeting in the future to discuss steps the city is taking to help alleviate future flooding.

The section of Crompton Park, at the corner of Canton and Harding that will be the site of the new playground was less affected than the community center. Several days after the flood, a bulldozer appeared to begin work on the playground project. It was upsetting to suddenly see the side of the hill that has been there for over a century torn apart to make way for the playground.

Robert Antonelli , Assistant Commissioner of the Park and Rec Dept., explained that the design of the playground includes adding structure and dimension to the otherwise flat hill , giving children added grassy areas to play on. Soon, we can look forward to three play structures an expanded swing area, and sturdy new fencing surrounding the area for safety. The project may be finished as soon as late fall, but a grand opening will be held no earlier than Spring of 2012.

We can also look forward to a wonderful bikeway. According to documents found on the Ma Dept. of Transpiration web site, Green Island will be the site of Segment 7 of the Blackstone River Bikeway, a 48 mile paved trail that connects Providence R.I. and Worcester.
Construction is expected to begin Winter 2013-14. The proposed path is along Quinsigamond Ave to Union Station, a distance of 2.6 miles. In addition, there are plans to make the bikeway a designated section of the East Coast Greenway, a 2,900 mile trail system that connects cities from Maine to Florida.

National Park status for parts of the Blackstone Valley, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution , is being promoted and supported by Congressman McGovern, State Senator Michael Moore and several city council members. Which parts of Worcester would be considered is yet unclear, but property on Harding Street, site of the Blackstone Canal and Quinsigamond Ave, part of the Mill Brook should be included.

Green Island has a gritty, hard boiled history made up of factories, immigrants, scoundrels and thieves, three deckers and several generations of men and women who worked extremely hard not only to survive, but for their children to succeed. It is very much a part of the Industrial Revolution history and story and should be included.

Green Island is ready to take on an important and improved new status if a National Park, a beautiful bikeway and ongoing improvements to the neighborhood continue. The quality of life for residents will improve as the neighborhood develops its historical and recreational features.

In June of 2011, The Main South Community Development Corp was awarded $600,000. Which will be used to develop brownfields into housing on Grand St? A small piece of property on Quinsigamond Ave, owned by NSTAR, also a brownfield , is property that can someday be part of a national park, or at least a segment of a beautiful bikeway.

This land has been chosen (without neighborhood discussion, input or consent) to be the home of the Worcester Regional Transit Authority (WRTA) operations and maintenance facility , with the full support of our city officials. Also on Quinsigamond Ave, The Department of Transportation plans to move a storage facility to this location. Plans for both projects are still pending the purchase of the land and other factors.

Why is Green Island being considered for these pollution producing projects with the approval of City Hall when we stand a chance to become a part of a National Park? We lost our Community Development Corporation and with that we lost any voice that would argue for environmental and social betterment in this neighborhood. Our neighborhood leadership, what there is of it, does not take Green Island’s historical importance seriously and prefers to think that all of the improvement should to be economic.

The Canal District, of which Green Island is a part, is much, much more than the area above Kelley Sq. The real history and yes; THE WATER is right down here in Section Two, Green Island. I sincerely hope people reading this article will respond and join in efforts to bring bike paths, national parks ,fresh air and a new sense of pride to Green Island.

Life in Green Island: we have hope

By Maureen Schwab

Several years ago, I was asked by a Green Island business owner, “How can you stand to live here?”

The “here” in this inelegant question was the Green Island neighborhood where I live, and where he, continues to this day, to run a business and earn a living. At the time I was questioned, I simply shook my head and mumbled I don’t know, but today, if he were to ask me the same question I would answer, “because I have hope.”

Walking through Green Island on a humid Sunday morning, one can imagine what it may have felt like to walk upon the damp and steamy soil when this neighborhood was nothing more than a swamp, later drained to build the Blackstone Canal in 1828. Or perhaps later in time, what it was like to be an Irish immigrant escaping the horror of the Great Potato famine of 1845 and to settle in Worcester’s first Irish neighborhood.

For close to 200 years, Green Island has been home to a diverse blend of people who inhabited the three deckers that lined, and still stand proudly on the streets of Green Island. Many of these beautiful homes have fallen victim to the wrecking ball and only some have outlived the original purpose of providing “walk to work” housing for families that usually had several members working in the factories that surrounded the neighborhood.

As a child, I would fall asleep to the lulling sounds of the giant steel press at the Wyman Gordon plant, the gas tanks that sat at the corner of Quinsigamond Ave and Lafayette since 1852 served as a landmark where I would meet friends for an afternoon of exploring and adventure. Today, the sounds of the press have disappeared, as have the huge silos that held gas and the factories that men and women walked to, to earn a decent wage that would pay the mortgage on a home of their own.

Green Island has never been home to a prosperous class of people, and the real estate has been and still is consider some of the least desirable in the city. If you live here, you can be labeled as anything from modest to lowly to just plain poor. The factory jobs are gone, and if you work, you probably drive yourself to and from your job. Millbury Street once considered Worcester’s second Main Street is struggling with closed and empty properties. Any resemblance to the thriving commercial street I remember as a child growing up in the 50’s and 60’s is long gone. But I still have hope!

Our current President, Barack Obama, defines hope as “nothing more than every individual reaching and striving to achieve his or her goals, and a society reaching and striving to be just and fair so that all may have the opportunity to do so”. Green Island has suffered over the past 40 years from a lack of leadership that ignored opportunities that could have led to neighborhood growth and development instead of a neighborhood wasting away.

Families moved out, Lamartine Street school closed, a strip club was allowed to open and operate at the corner of Lafayette and Southbridge, and businesses closed one right after another including a bank that many of our elderly residents relied on for check cashing and banking services. Real estate was sold by families to absentee landlords who could care less about the condition of property and behavior of tenants as long as the rent checks came in.

At the bottom of this mess, we have the collapse and closure of the Green Island CDC (Community Development Corporation). Without a CDC, deals are made, and plans such as the WRTA bus maintenance facility and the Dept. of Transportation garage are allowed to move forward and on to Quinsigamong Ave without the input from the neighborhood residents.

This type of exclusive community development loosely parallels trickle down economics which gives those in control the power to start and expand businesses and services which may or may not benefit a neighborhood.

In contrast we have bottom up economics; everyone is encouraged to work hard, educate themselves and to be their most productive, to be given the opportunity to participate; in the words of our President, ordinary people allowed to do extraordinary things when given the chance.

The Blackstone Canal Feasibility Study was presented to the public in a series of public meetings in 2003. At that time, the information contained in the plan was overwhelming and confusing to me. Eight years later, I see that parts of the plan are exactly what the Green Island neighborhood needs to transform itself into a valuable historic and residential section of the city; a walkable neighborhood with open space, a link to the Blackstone River Bikeway, a dog park, a replica of the Mill Brook which once surrounded the Green Island neighborhood and beautifully restored three deckers.

A study of prosperous economies produced the following conclusion, it was found that colonies that were settled by people who stayed raised families and made homes in these areas were far more prosperous than colonies that were simply used for trading and never settled as homes. We can say the same for our neighborhoods, while some absentee landlords do a good job and have responsible tenants, the majority do not and only add to the “ no body in this neighborhood cares” attitude.

Green Island is a treasure in the heart of the city. It is our responsibility as citizens to take care of our environment , and our neighborhood, and to be thankful for the good things to be found here, and more importantly to work hard for more. We have a wonderful new swimming pool at Crompton Park, world famous Diners, Pernet Family Services which provides help to residents, summer programs for children and ice skating in the winter. Food and clothing for those in need are available at the Green Island Community Center on Canton St. We have a monthly crime watch, and community Police Officer to help with neighborhood crime issues.

The Polish community still has its heart and soul here, Our Lady of Czestochowa Church, St. Mary’s school ,the PNI club, and several European delis on Millbury Street. The Ghanaian church on Lafayette St and Haitian church on Ellsworth St are a welcome addition to Green Island. According to urban designer Kurt Culbetson, churches are major element of sustainable neighborhoods.
We can become a better neighborhood when we as individuals decide to do something. We can clean up a Brownfield and turn it into a beautiful park instead of a pollution producing parking lot. While I walked through Crompton Park on a steamy summer morning, I noticed that the one broken swing we have at the park had been repaired and was ready for use,…..I have hope .

Reimagining Worcester, Part 2: Academic Retention

By Jim May

First, just a few comments from the feedback I’ve received. Respecting the Blackstone River in Part 1 was also about the need to reconnect with it mentally to better understand how the City was shaped by it over the centuries. Worcester isn’t going to build some kind of inland waterway garden zone if the water’s not clean first. There can be no Canal Project without a water project of some magnitude. And when you’re thinking about Boston pipeline disaster that happened this week, it should be well noted by Worcesterites that we own our water supplies. There’s value to clean water. We take it for granted, and we shouldn’t.

Second, the Worcester sewer plant (aka Upper Blackstone Abatement Plant) is in violation of the Clean Water Act. The City is in danger of a losing big in a lawsuit for polluting the Blackstone River, Narragansett Bay and several towns and cities along the way. Continue reading Reimagining Worcester, Part 2: Academic Retention

Re-imagining Worcester

By Jim May


To a geographer, the most compelling aspect of greater Worcester is the Blackstone River. It’s our river. We ain’t got much else, really. Farming was so bad here that Worcester County was the last county populated, and even then, the town of Sutton surpassed Worcester’s own population until the mid 1840s.

But people aren’t farming here anymore. Still, the Blackstone River remains the dominant landscape feature no matter how many Walmarts surround it. The Blackstone River is the thing that singularly most identifies our place in the terra firma, our place on Mother Earth.
And because it’s a river, it’s water. And water represents Life. And Life is what we want in our downtown.

We have long stopped embracing the River. To be blunt, we shit on it. We have almost polluted it beyond recognition. The intense industrial usage of the Blackstone left a legacy of pollution. Continue reading Re-imagining Worcester

The monkey’s ass

By Rosalie Tirella

What a dreadful cold spell. What an unlovely sight Wormtown is at tail’s end of winter. What better time – or so I thought, this afternoon – to treat myself to some real comfort food – a cheese omlette, bulkie roll and home fries at my favorite local hang out.

So there I am, on Water Street looking out the restaurant window, hunkering down, trying to avoid all the crap I have to contend with: the dog has cancer, the bills are paid but need more paying, mom has early dementia, guy pal will never get his shit together. Talking with another small biz owner earlier – we both pined for a vacation in sunnier climes. “I haven’t had a vacation in eight years!” he said. All this was weighing down on me … Would spring-time ever return, I wondered, and I looked out the restaurant window and saw ALLEN FLETCHER at the exact opposite side of the street.

He saw me. I saw him. I blanched. He – wearing his ridiculous black beret – gave me a big salute – the kind of salute Adolph Hitler gave his men before … gassing them.

I made a horrible face at him – and immediately lost my appetite.

My old neighborhood, my stomping grounds used to be hallowed ground, for me. Now it’s the Canal Distgrict (or shall we say Cabal District). Now, instead of a cool Jewish ghetto where (in the early part of the 20th century) hawkers lined the Water Street to sell fruits, vegetables, live (!) chickens and other necessities, we have Allen Fletcher in a black beret. Continue reading The monkey’s ass

The Canal District’s secret meetings

By Rosalie Tirella

I spent the first 19 years of my life in Green Island. My mother grew up in Green Island – a great gal in a great Polish neighborhood – and spent 65 years there! I know/knew the neighborhood like the back of my hand and I love it like no other Worcester ‘hood. Jim Lukes, City Councilor Konnie Lukes’ hubby, grew up in the area, too. His dad had a diner on Millbury Street and the family still owns property in Green Island. District 4 City Councilor Barbara Haller represents the neighborhood. And none us – not a person! – can make our way into Allen Fletcher’s secret “Canal District” (the yuppie monikor for Green Island) Taskforce meetings.

That’s right! Since Fletcher bought the old Ash Street school off Green Street several years ago, he has decided that he will remake the district in his own bony-ass image – or to his, and his supporters’, liking. Anyone with a different point of view, anyone with any sort of question, even folks with longstanding ties to the Green Island neighborhood like me or Jim Lukes, are not invited to play in Fletcher’s reinder games. We don’t even know when and where the meetings are!! (somewhere in Green Island, I’m guessing!) Continue reading The Canal District’s secret meetings