Tag Archives: Common

On the cusp

By Rosalie Tirella

Driving all over Worcester yesterday delivering the new issue of INCITY TIMES, getting compliments about our last issue: “That was a good story on John Fresolo” or: “I enjoy reading your stories” or: “The hottest newspaper in town.” Wink, wink.

But what especially pleased me yesterday was my very new yearning to hang out, eat lunch, people-watch DOWNTOWN. By City Hall. Can you believe it? But it’s the truth! Yesterday, as I drove through the “center, the heart” of our city, I was thrilled by its colorful umbrellas that sat open upon tables where you could eat lunch or chat with pals over some fruit juice drinks. The benches and flowers around our beloved Turtle Boy statue made the space inviting and, pretty. Best of all, I SAW A BUNCH OF WOO FOLKS ENJOYING, PEACEFULLY ENJOYING, THEIR CITY HALL COMMON. Our Worcester common was truly common ground for our community: people sat on the benches surrounding the Turtle Boy, they walked their little white highland terriers around the area, they sat on the grass or on benches talking with friends, enjoying the fantastic late summer sun. There were 20 , maybe 30 of these folks, walking, watching, sitting, standing … To me, it could have been 200 people! Glorious! Middle class, working class, black, brown, white… People from the lofts, condos down the street, the artsy types I see walking in the area during the week. There they were. The city dog lovers, I call them. The person with the little white Husky mix The person with the Westie. The person with the little black dog, the Boston Terrier type pup, only without the white in its coat. Yup. These folks live downtown and they were walking their dogs by our common, making the area lively, cute, lived-in!

With the newer housing downtown comes newer upper income folks. Hooray! We welcome them – without shitting all over the poor people of the neighborhood. Now maybe we can have a nice bistro or coffee shop across from city hall to cater to these newer folks. They join the poorer peeps who also live in the area. They are already shopping and hanging out in the area. Good for us! No need to displace anyone. Let’s just add this new group to the mix and create a diverse city space!

Yesterday, I drove around our common three times just to soak up the great scene! What a celebratory little ride it was, springy shocks be damned! I wanted to get out of my vehicle, give a rebel yell, grab my lawn blanket and head to our city hall common to take a break from delivering my papers, enjoy the weather and eat something yummy. Well, I looked around our pretty common and found no yummy for my tummy! No inviting yogurt shops, sandwich shops etc. And I don’t like Dunkin Donuts etc, the only culinary choices presented to me yesterday. WHY CAN’T THE WORCESTER CITY COUNCIL GET ON THE STICK AND FAST TRACK A FOOD TRUCK ORDINANCE SO THAT WE CAN FEED THE PEOPLE ON THE CITY HALL COMMON ON A SATURDAY AFTERNOON? Yesterday I would have loved to have been able to walk up to a funky food truck and order a falafel wrap, extra tahini, or a very big, veggie salad. Not into hotdogs, very into Thai food, Indian food, pizza slices. How would food trucks parked along our common on a Saturday and Sunday afternoon negatively impact local eateries? Especially when there weren’t any local eateries around? I mean, here we have our city hall common on the cusp of liveliness … people ARE HERE but there is really nothing for them to do, no where for them to window shop, no place to grab a tasty bite to eat.

The opening up of Front Street is great, if you are driving around the city. You get to feel what a busy, bustling place Woo is as you zip down Front and enter Washington Square, see Union Station, head to the East Side …. But if you’re a pedestrian, it’s grey space. Boring. Nothing for you to see, hear, eat. As I drove down the new Front Street I saw several kids with skateboards. They were enjoying the very smooth, flat, longish street! Cool. They looked like they were having fun. Where was the tee shirt shop or Apple Store or coffee shop for these cool kids?

Like I said, yesterday I was so excited by all the DIFFERENT KINDS OF PEOPLE BEING A PART OF OUR CENTER CITY SCENE that U TOO WANTED GO BE A PART OF IT. That’s the way it is with us homo sapiens. We love to hang out … together … loosely … but together. Cities are perfect for this, the collective hang out. So, with no lunch to spread in my lunch blanket, I zipped across the street from City Hall, straight into the Worcester Public Library parking lot and visited the always happening Woo Public Library. Books and DVDs and video cassettes galore. My kinda joint. Got more Hemingway and The Duke in TRUE GRIT.

Yup. True grit. Worcester has plenty of it. And we may need a little more if we want to truly revitalize our city hall common/downtown.

City Manager Mike O’Brien and the Ice Oval fiasco

Ice_skating : People ice skating

By Rosalie Tirella

Drove into Providence, RI, today. What a beautiful little city! What a happening downtown! What a nice cosmopolitan vibe!

The ride into downtown Worcester a few hours later made me cringe: Not because of its looks (well, yeah, because of its looks compared to Providence’s) but TODAY, especially, because of the ICE OVAL FIASCO. And it is a fiasco!

You would think that the public outcry re: City Manager Mike O’Brien’s fool hardy decision to charge poor kids $2 to skate on the ice, $3 to rent skates, $ for hot cocoa and other refreshments would have stopped him cold – make him realize: HEY, there should be no admission fee! Everyone should skate for free! That’s the way the people of Worcester want it to be! I am not their king! I am their city manager – a bureaucrat – who serves at the pleasure of the Worcester City Council. A guy who takes his orders from city council, which takes its orders from Worcesterites.

But no!

A cheap skate, my-way-or-the-highway mentality rises from the depths of Mr. O’Brien’s hollow hollow soul. So even in the middle of a dead zone like our downtown, Worcester families need to pony up some serious bucks (if there are a lot of kids and the family is working class).

O’Brien is wrong to think any municipal give away is to admit to being hustled by the hoi polloi. He is putting the brakes on something even before it gets started. And right now we could really see something STARTING on our common.

The recent announcement that kids 10 and under get in free to skate does not make me feel better. More bull shit from O’Brien. We talk about how we want to reach our teens – make them feel part of the city. Well, if you are a poor teen forget about it.

Something to think about, CM Mike O’Brien: Did you know that every Christmas Toys for Tots has to beg for some donations, such as Christmas presents geared for tweens and teens? Seems like everyone wants to donate toys and fun stuff for little kids, but no one remembers the teens. You know which foster kids are hardest to place, CM O’Brien? Teens. Everyone wants a cute little kid. No one wants a cute big kid.

Thanks, City Manager Mike O’Brien, for sending out that same old heartless message to our young people. A few days ago, I saw a homeless teen (maybe 12 or 13??) at a local Price Chopper. He looked so forlorn. So lost. So hungry. We have lots of homeless teens here in our city.

Why make things harder?

What about the country’s obese/over weight kids? We’ve got ’em here in Worcester, all right. Wouldn’t it have been nice if our teens could have EXERCISED – skated – on the city’s ice rink for free. God knows kids need to start moving. City Manager Mike O’Brien, you could have helped make that happen.

And, after Providence, I have to think: YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! O’Brien is gonna charge kids and families money to come down to bring much needed life to this dump that we like to think is our center city/downtown? At this point, the city needs as many people as it can get to spend time downtown. To charge $$$ to skate in the middle of dumpsville is insane.

JUST INVITE EVERYONE for free, OK Mike? Why get anal with teens? Why get anal right before the holidays?

Bureaucrats never have vision.

Strong mayors do.

Skate behind Worcester City Hall for FREE! FREE!

By Rosalie Tirella

Classic Worcester screw-up move: We want to bring more people/life to the center of our downtown, a place crying out for people and life. We build a skating rink – a lovely skating rink – the meat in the middle of our urban shit sandwich.

Then what do we do? True to Worcester form, we decide to CHARGE kids/folks a $2 ADMISSION fee for coming to skate in our no-man’s land. Then there is the $ for popcorn and hot cocoa at the concession stand and maybe more money for special classes.  In short, $$ charged for spending time in Icky-Town (maybe soon to be Lucky Town, a la the Bruce Springsteen album – but for now Icky Town … .)

Pathetic.

At this point, the City of Worcester should BE PAYING kids to come and skate on our Ice Oval – not charging them $$!

It gets worse. Let’s say you are a poor single mom from Main South, Green Island or Piedmont and it is winter (school) vacation and you want to take your three kids and their three pals to the cool new skating rink downtown. You may even take a twirl on the rink! Pretend you are an ice dancer! Guess what? Right off the bat you are $14 poorer! You are poor already! You do not have 14 bucks to blow. And of course, the kids will want to eat goodies. You do not have $25 or so to squander on goodies! The fun will add up. You decide you can’t go to the new downtown skating rink. The kids will have to do something else (hope it’s not sitting in front of a TV set!).

Our city kids have no neighborhood pools. They have no branch libraries (even poor cities like Springfield and Hartford have branch libraries). Our main public library is not even open 7 days a week! It is usually closed Mondays and Sundays (Sundays!!!). This one nice family-friendly thing happens – a skating rink behind City Hall! – and once again the doors are closed. Our inner-city kids/families locked out.

City Manager Mike O’Brien and his pals need to rethink this. We suggest making our new ice oval a free for all! Make it fee-free! FREE! FREE! FREE! FOR ALL! So we can have middle-class kids mixing with working-class kids, mixing with poor kids, mixing with maybe even homeless kids. Urban nirvana for me!

I repeat, at the moment the area looks so blighted the City of Worcester should be PAYING kids to come and skate! Let’s not be so fucking cheap and petty, Worcester! Let’s not keep even one city kid from having fun! So often we have nickled and dimed regular inner-city folks to death while paying our police officers $125,000 a year or our high school principals $110,000 a year (and their pals) big bucks. And their perks go on and on. You know why the Tornadoes flopped here? Ticket prices were too steep! They should have been priced so that working class folks – not middle class folks – would be able to attend the games. A la Brockton, MA. Brockton’s Can Am baseball team tix cost around $6. Worth it, I say. Especially for working stiffs who may not be able to take their families at $10 – $15 per (Tornadoes) ticket.

I grew up dirt poor. I hung out with very poor folks. Believe me, I know deprivation. I remember some pals:there were kids who were bringing in weekly payments of 25 cents to pay for a Worcester Boys Club Annual Membership of around $10/$20. Their families: a.  were just too poverty stricken to pay or b. too dysfunctional to save up the dough.

Let’s not take anything out on our kids – the city’s future!

Remember what the City of Worcester did at Union Station? The city charged entrepreneurs exorbitant rents on the spaces they were leasing for their restaurants/clubs and THE ELECTRICAL OUTLETS/SYSTEMS WEREN’T EVEN IN PLACE/READY TO GO!  Of course, the restaurant/blues club failed. We were demanding too much dough from these brave souls wanting to take a chance on a new Union Station.

Now here we are, with a brandy new ice oval, asking kids and families to be URBAN PIONEERS and spend some time in our urban shit sandwich but demanding THEY PAY US $$$!

What we do to poor Worcester families and kids is unforgivable.