By Rosalie Tirella
The old Wyman Gordon factory site. Once a testament to Worcester’s industrial muscle. Now a shadow of it and its city’s former, greater!, working-class self! Now it is ugly, dirty, closed off from the neighborhood – no longer economic life blood for the residents of the hood. It sits at the edge of the Canal District under-used, under-loved. You drive past it down Lamartine Street and your heart grows heavy …
Through the years, there have been plans and dreams for this Woo inner-city eyesore – some more mundane than others. Like the Wal-Mart that was maybe gonna go in (nope, said the company, not enough potential customers), a Price Chopper (ditto for the supermarket chain), etc.
The summer before last it really looked like a slots casino, hotel, spa, pub-style restaurant were all heading for the Wyman Gordon site. But then-City Manager Mike O’Brien and pals pushed for the hotel to be built downtown, restaurant types felt uneasy about the casino’s pub taking business away, other folks wanted MILLIONS AND MILILIONS of dollars in mitigation funds – bribes, don’t you know. So Worcester, as usual, shot itself in the groin.
I myself was against the whole thing! But I reconsidered once neighborhood folks told me LOUD AND CLEAR that THEY REALLY WANTED – NEEDED! – ALL THE JOBS that the casino was going to create.
In hindsight, the classy, fun playground, with a concert venue!, that the casino guys proposed might have been a good thing. I know this for sure: All the jobs for the semi-skilled in the neighborhood and city would have been a GREAT THING!
Just getting some trees planted along Lamartine Street – this gal’s modest proposal for the WG site two summers ago! – proved to be too controversial!
So now we’ve got shit! The Wyman Gordon site is one big shit sandwich on Kelley Square, leading to the Historic Canal District.
Maybe it’s all the Halloween candy I wolfed down doing the talkin’ … but the Wyman Gordon site looks especially foreboding this time of year!
But today I have a new, INEXPENSIVE, INCLUSIVE, DOABLE, TEMPORARY SOLUTION to the problem: an inner-city mini-park, with or without a dog park.
Let’s all work together to get some soil trucked into this now fairly cleaned up and detoxified brownfield! Let’s put in trees, bushes, flower gardens, benches, picnic tables, some art …
If the liability issue can get worked out, let’s fence in some greenery, bolt in some fuckin’ benches, install doggy poop bags dispensing machines and get a little urban dog park going! It may work! It would be away from tons of homes with homeowners who don’t want to live by a dog park. Away from all the anal naysayers who will NEVER allow a dog park to be constructed in Green Hill Park. (Let’s not kid ourselves!)
If Allen Fletcher can have his fake canal, the Canal District should – through volunteerism? and donations? – create a fake city park that can be disassembled once the Wyman Gordon folks sell the property, which will never happen because the owners are demanding WAY TOO MUCH $$$$.
We’ve got stabbings, prostitution, murders, garbage dumping in/near the historic Canal District. Maybe if the hood’s RESIDENTS get something they can truly feel part of, make their own, there would be more pride in the neighborhood coming from people who live here 24/7.
The real neighborhood.
The real neighborhood people who need a CVS, bank, supermarket, maybe even a health center or public library branch, in their neighborhood. The very stuff the neighborhood’ s movers and shakers all have and take for granted.
Now that would be historic!