Tag Archives: Crompton Park

An inner-city jewel! Green Island’s Crompton Park!

Lorraine Laurie! Known to all as the “Mayor of Green Island,” Lorraine has worked tirelessly, advocated passionately, for the blue-collar Green Island! FOR DECADES! Thank you, “Sweet Lorraine”! pics:R.T.

By Lorraine Laurie

Crompton Park, the Green Island neighborhood’s jewel, is shining brighter than ever, thanks to major renovations started last year and continuing into this year!

The work on the Canton Street side of the park is made possible by a PARC
(Parkland Acquisitions and Renovation for Communities) state grant for
$400,000 and a City of Worcester match of $750,000. in funds including CDBG
(Community Development Block Grant) monies.

The current renovations complement the 6,500 squarefoot pool that was opened
on July 1, 2011. The ultra- modern complex which cost $2.7 million features a zero depth entry pool,a splash pad for toddlers,a slide, 3 lap lanes, outside showers, security and a family restroom and changing area.

Crompton Park’s new pool, splash pad, water sprays AND SLIDE! are enjoyed by hundreds of neighborhood folks every week!

The Canton Street side of Crompton Park is now more accessible and safer be-
cause of the ongoing renovations. The entrance driveway and parking area have been moved to the left side of the awimming pool complex. A green space, in turn, has been created between the playground and the swimming pool area. The new improvements enhance the modern playground area on the corner of Harding and Canton streets and tie it in more to the nearby pool complex.

A new tennis court has replaced the old
courts and will feature United States Tennis Association “Quick Start”markings for youth development. The “Tenacity” program is already using the court as part of this summer’s activities in the park. Also, the court is adaptable for use as an ice skating venue in the winter. Two handball courts, new to Crompton, have been built near
the corner of Canton Street and Quinsigamond Ave. (in case you wonder what the large wall is!) and have proven to be very popular in other parks such as South Worcester Playground on Cambridge and Camp Streets.

Renovations have kept in mind maintenanceissues so that the improved areas will be much easier to care for and keep in shape.

All these upgrades and additions were many years in the making. Like the saying goes, “Anything worth having is worth waiting for.” Three very well attended public planning sessions were held at the Green Island Neighborhood Center itself located on the Canton Street side of the park in late 2010 and early 2011. A Master Plan for the park based on input from residents and stakeholders was developed by the firm of Weston & Sampson, environmental/infrastructure consultants whose office is located at Harrington Corner in downtown Worcester.

The plan was presented in March 2011. It was approved publically by the Worcester Parks & Recreation Commission on March 31, 2011 and the Worcester City Council on February 28, 2012.

Crompton Park’s basketball court – a neighborhood icon – has been around for decades and drawn thousands of kids (and adults) looking to shoot hoop! Safer and more accessible renovations of this very popular and heavily used basketball court – “Cousy Court”! – are in the works!

What makes this planning session so special is that the master plan isavailable on the City Parks Department web site(www.worcesterma.gov – Parks/Rec/ Cemetery City Parks)!

A grant was submitted to the State but not funded. It was resubmitted the next
year. With the help of State Senator Michael Mooreand State Rep. Daniel Donahue, the PARC grant was successfully obtained; the City committed its match and the bidding process was undertaken.

This feature reporter is especially thrilled about having participated in the Master Plan process as Chairperson of the Green Island Residents Group, Inc.and is excited about the renovations that are taking place. She fondly recalls participating in the
previous Crompton Park Planning Group which met from 1981 – 1983. Thomas
“Tom” W.Taylor was the Parks Commissionerthen and James E.“Jef” Fasser was the parks Department Landscape Architect.

The top priority then was having the Green Island Neighborhood Center move from its rented Millbury Street store front to the old shower house on the Canton Street side of the park. With the help of grant and CDBG money,the deteriorated and vacant building was renovated to the needs of the Center. The building became “home” for the Center on September 27, 1984 and its new address became “50 Canton Street – Crompton Park.”

images (11)
ICT editor Rosalie and her mom, many years ago … they’re relaxing on what used to be known as the little hill at Crompton Park!

Speaking of the Green Island Neighborhood Center, Rochelle Appiah, Site Manager at the Center, says she is “looking forward to the completion, to the City of Worcester, construction team, pavers and builders we all say a big THANK YOU for improving our park.”

The Center is very busy with 30 eager children participating in the summer program. They play soccer on Tuesday and Thursday mornings with Staff from the Worcester Youth Soccer GOALS program. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday its Tenacity program time on the tennis court.

These two programs are open to all children ages 6 -12.

The pool is quite busy from noon to 7 p.m. daily and according to Rochelle “It’s the highlight of the day.“ Rochelle adds “I don’t want to
forget the beautiful WRTA building, sure does make a difference. Every day I look out of my window and say this neighborhood is on the rise!”

What’s in the future for Crompton Park?

When asked what he would like to see
done next from the Master Plan, Assistant Commissioner “Rob” Antonelli named three areas – not in any particular order:

a rubber surface for the playground so it will be softer

safer and more accessible renovations of the very popular and heavily used
basketball court – “Cousy Court”

and renovations to the softball field which alone “will cost $1 million or $2 million.”

Ronald “Ron” Charette, Executive Director of the South Worcester Neighbor hood Improvement Corporation, which runs both the Green Island and South
Worcester Neighborhood Centers sums it all up nicely. He says: “For nearly four
decades, the Green Island Neighborhood Center has enjoyed a great partnership with the Worcester Parks Department, starting with former Commissioner Tom Taylor and continuing with Rob Antonelli. The transformation of Crompton Park, under the leadership of Rob Antonelli, continues to build on this great partnership, making our park a jewel for the entire community.”

At 128 years old, our Green Island “Jewel” shines brighter than ever!

Lorraine’s in fashion! … Exciting things are happening in Crompton Park

WIN_20150328_234135 (2)-1
The “Mayor of Green Island” – Lorraine Laurie!

By Lorraine Laurie (photos:R.T.)

Exciting things are happening to Crompton Park in the Green Island Neighborhood! Just drive down Harding Street, south of Kelley Square, pass Endicott Street and take a right swing on to Canton  Street. You can see the up-to-date playground equipment, the ultra modern pool complex and the Green Island Neighborhood Center.

According to Robert C. Antonelli, Jr. Assistant Commissioner of the City of Worcester- DPW & Parks – Parks, Recreation & Cemetery Division, the latest phase of work now in progress includes:

the relocation and expansion of the existing parking lot


the relocation of the two existing tennis courts


and the addition of two new handball courts. 


This project will cost $1,020,000 and is made possible with City Tax Levy Capital, Community Development Block Grant money and State “PARC” – Parkland Acquisitions and Renovation for Communities Grant funding. 

State Representative Dan Donahue (D) 16th Worcester District said recently that he was “happy to work with the City to obtain a PARC Grant to help with the renovations on the Canton Street side of Crompton Park.”
The existing parking lot will be relocated to the west side of the Pool Complex. 

The present parking lot will be renovated to a lawn area and decrease the potential of  vehicular and pedestrian conflict as people access the playground.  Rochelle Appiah, Site Manager of the Green Island Neighborhood Center, is looking “forward to the new parking lot here at Crompton  Park.  It will be much safer for the children.”
Besides the parking lot improvements, the two existing tennis courts will be relocated to the west of the new parking lot and two new handball courts will be added to the west of the relocated tennis courts. 

IThe sports court will be constructed with the concrete bases installed for future sports lighting; new lighting fixtures are included for the relocated parking lot. Assistant Commissioner Antonelli  also  points out that “the area between Community building [Green Island Neighborhood Center] and the pool complex will be renovated as a pedestrian friendly paved plaza but will provide accommodations for the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile.  The parking lot and the plaza will be constructed of porous pavement and pavers.  The work is scheduled to be competed by June 1 so as not to interfere with the pool schedule, the Tenacity program and the operations of the Green Island Neighborhood Center. 
Ronald “Ron” Charette, Executive Director of the South Worcester Neighborhood Improvement Corporation, which runs the South Worcester Neighborhood Center on Camp Street and also the Green Island Neighborhood Center, sums it up beautifully.  He says, “It is a great joy for the residents of the Green Island Neighborhood to watch their community jewel, Crompton Park, being rebuilt. The new improvements at Crompton Park signify the health and vitality of the Green Island  Neighborhood.
A thriving park mirrors a happy place for families to live. The renovations to Green Island’s Crompton Park are one more step in re-building a fine neighborhood.”

Green Island’s Crompton Park was a “donation”?

Lorraine Laurie’s article about Crompton Park [InCity Times, August 7, 2015] was excellent.

However, I was surprised and somewhat shocked to learn that the land [for Crompton Park] was purchased.

I always thought it was donated, hence the naming after the Crompton family.   
This is what that purchase price of $44K+ is worth today:
$44,350 of 1888 dollars would be worth $1,108,750.00 in 2015
$44,350 of 2015 dollars would be worth $1,774.00 in 1888.   

I don’t know if this was the great philanthropic deal it was made out to be, or I mistakenly thought it was for  all these  years.

True, the City of Worcester paid for it, and  Green Island was definitely the beneficiary; but wasn’t it swampland?  
I’m not sure what the current asking price for the Wymann Gordon parcel is, but wasn’t it around the same amount, plus clean up fees?

Maureen Schwab 
via the Internet

What’s Ahead for Crompton Park – Updates

By Lorraine Michele Laurie

Do you know the area between Endicott, Harding and Canton Streets and Quinsigamond Ave.?  That’s right, it’s Crompton Park! It was bought from Mrs. Mary Crompton, widow of George Crompton, the famous inventor, loom maker, good employer, landowner, and patriotic citizen of Worcester.  George Crompton died in 1886 and Mary sold the 12.73 acres to the City of Worcester for a playground for $44,350.00 in 1888.

Many a Worcester resident enjoyed swimming in the “mud hole,” sliding down the “hill,” skating on the ice in the open space where the softball fields are today or taking a shower in the old bathhouse. In those days, many of the houses in the Island did not have bathtubs so taking a shower in the bath house was a real treat.  The cost was 5 cents and you got soap and a towel.  When you returned the towel, you got your 5 cents back!

Well, so much for history and fond memories.  Two thousand and fifteen going into two thousand and sixteen will be a busy time at Crompton Park.  It’s renovation time!  The area to be updated, made more accessible and more easily maintained is the Canton Street side of the park. That’s the swimming pool side between Harding Street and Quinsigamond Ave.  Crompton Park has its beautiful ultra modern swimming complex, a modern play ground and of course the Green Island Neighborhood Center there.  Now is the time to tie everything together.

Robert C. Antonelli, Jr., Assistant Commissioner for Parks – City of Worcester – Department of Public Works and Parks, recently updated residents about the planned renovations at the Green Island Residents Group, Inc. annual meeting held at the Green Island Neighborhood Center.  Mr. Antonelli said that the proposed project is going through the bidding phase.  The bids should be opened in a couple of weeks.  The City is a recipient of a PARC (Parkland Acquisitions and Renovation for Communities) state grant for $400,000.  The City is matching it with $750,000. in funds including CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) monies.  There are certain requirements to be followed because of the CDBG money.  Crompton Park, Castle Park and Shore Park have been highlighted to receive renovation money this year.  When the bids come in and the winning bid is chosen, the City will be able to determine if other work can be added for Crompton Park.

Actual work will start at the end of August and continue through May and June so as not to interfere with the pool schedule, the Tenacity program and the operations of the Green

Island Neighborhood Center.  Renovations will focus on continuing to make Crompton Park a valuable resource and an area of pride for the neighborhood as well as the City. The Canton Street side will be made more accessible and safer.  The entrance way and parking area will be moved to the other side of the swimming pool complex.  That will create a green space between the playground and the swimming pool area.  A new parking lot to the left of the pool will provide more controlled parking spaces and a safer entrance to the park.  Also, renovations will keep in mind maintenance issues so renovated areas will be much easier to care for and kept in shape longer.

Renovations will also include upgraded tennis courts and a hand ball court which will be closer to the corner of Canton Street and Quinsigamond Ave.  When asked what he would like to see done next from the Master Plan, Assistant Commissioner Antonelli named three areas – not in any particular order- a rubber surface for the playground so it will be softer, safer and more accessible, renovation of the very popular and heavily used basketball court “Cousy Court” and renovations to the softball field which alone will cost $1 or $2 million.

Since most of the residents who attended the Green Island Residents Group. Inc. annual meeting also participated in the public planning sessions held at the Green Island Neighborhood Center in late 2010 and early 2011, they gave suggestions to fine tune the work already done and to give a request for the new work planned.  They suggested some benches be installed in the playground area for adults who accompany their children and also a need to provide some shade for this area.  Also, install a few benches in the pool area.  In regards to the planned renovations, a request was made to preserve the existing trees.  One longtime resident said it was so nice to see a group of children sitting with their teachers underneath the trees recently and relaxing and enjoying the park.

Our Green Island or Island “Jewel” shines brightly and will be even brighter with the all the updates.  We love our Crompton Park, now 14.6 acres, and thank all who help us make it shine!

Green Island – The Island that became a Neighborhood


Lilac and Jett would love to see a real, official City of Worcester dog park in Worcester! At Crompton Park, in Green Island! Owner Rosalie must cur”tail” their dream: It’s never gonna happen, sweeties! The pre-election-time happy talk about an official Worcester dog park will disappear once Worcester City Councilor Gary Rosen and fellow nincom”poop”s get themselves re-elected!   text + pic – R.T.

By Lorraine Michele Laurie

Pick up a copy of InCity Times and you’ll see Editor/Publisher Rosalie Tirella’s column Green Island Grrrl.  Rosalie is referring to the neighborhood where she grew up – where she had happy days with her hardworking Mom, her younger twin sisters and her feisty “Bapy.”

Have you ever wondered why this area roughly between Millbury Street and Quinsigamond Avenue and Kelley Square and Brosnihan Square is known as the “Island”?  Perhaps you thought it was because the area gets flooded every so often when there is a heavy rain.  Or maybe you thought it had something to do with the former Kelley Square Yacht Club or the Ship Room on the first floor of the Hotel Vernon?  A yacht club needs boats and boats need water so where is the water?

It was there many years ago when Worcester was young – even before Worcester became a city in 1848.  Just north of the present day Kelley Square was a pond.  Water was fed into this pond by the Mill Brook that crossed Worcester from north to south.  When the brook’s waters, fed by other dams and streams, reached this pond, which was known as the Mill Pond, the brook had already begun to swell.  After it finally left the pond, it separated and formed two branches.  One branch followed along the path of what became Harding Street.  The other branch crossed the land we now know as the Gulf Station and Dunkin’ Donuts.  Older Island residents remember it as the site of St. Anthony’s Church housed in the former Fox Mill.  The branch headed towards the present Wyman – Gordon land, curved around the former Gas Works, now the site of the future WRTA Maintenance Garage and headed toward the present day Brosnihan Square.  The two branches of Mill Brook joined here and the land in between became a real “island.”  So as you can see, this section of Worcester, Massachusetts had acquired its name long before it became a neighborhood.

The town of Worcester was getting tired of being in Boston’s shadow.  It was time to build a Providence to Worcester canal that would be very profitable to merchants and would double the value of property along the way.  Irish –born contractor Tobias Boland knew what impact the building of a canal would have on Worcester so he jumped at the chance to buy some swamp land.  Boland’s newly acquired property was located in the area between the present day Franklin Street and Kelley Square.  On July 4, 1826, Boland welcomed the first group of his fellow Irishmen hired to work on the canal in Worcester.  Four days later ground was broken on Thomas Street.  Not only would these men build a canal that would connect Worcester with Providence, they would lay the foundation for something more lasting.  They would start a neighborhood.

The Blackstone Canal was finished in1828.  It drained the area previously purchased by Toby Boland and he was able to build six or eight tenement houses there.  A few years later, Tobias Boland became the superintendent of the project to build Christ Church on Temple Street.  By 1845, the parish had grown to over 2,000 people.  A larger church was needed and it was completed and dedicated in June of 1846.  This church was named St. John’s.  It is the Mother Church of the Worcester Diocese and continues to serve the faithful as well as those in need at its Temple Street location and at its St. John’s Parish/ Ascension Campus on 44 Vernon Street.

The swamp land south of Kelley Square, formerly called Vernon Square, was drained by the canal and by the 1850’s many streets were laid out.  The “Island” was established as a neighborhood and continued to grow with the influx of immigrants from many European countries.

Now you may ask “The Island is a neighborhood but when did it become “Green Island”?

It was 1964 and the Office of Economic Opportunity was created when the government declared “War on Poverty.”  Lyndon B. Johnson succeeded John Fitzgerald Kennedy as President.  Focus was put on “maximum feasible participation of the poor.”  Right Rev. Timothy J. Harrington who would later become third Bishop of Worcester, unveiled his plan for “ten strategically-placed neighborhood centers.”  The proposal was fine tuned to include 10 centers and a quasi- public agency now known as the Worcester Community Action Council.  Catholic Charities had the option of becoming the “delegate agency’ of one of the centers.  Fr. Edmond Tinsley and Father Leo Battista, then both Assistants at Catholic Charities, wrote a grant and went to Washington.  In the early summer of 1965 a federal grant of $122,433 was received.

Since Catholic Charities was located at 26 Vernon Street, an “Island “district site was chosen.  The Center’s first home was the second floor of St. Anthony’s Church at Kelley Square.  The “Island” would be the “heart” of the service area and Kelley Square looked toward Green Street another part of the proposed service area and “Green” was added to “Island.”  Bishop Harrington credited Msgr. Edmond Tinsley with combining the two areas and coming up with the name.  On July 3, 1965, the operation began with a Child Development Summer program.  More and more people became interested, and on September 16, 1965 “Green Island Neighborhood Opportunity Center” was born.  The Center has been located in beautiful Crompton Park since September 27, 1984.

Whether you refer to it as the “Island or “Green Island” the area has the true distinction of being “The Island that became a Neighborhood.”

Got this nice letter from Worcester’s former park commissioner …


The Crompton Park opportunity center (building on right, behind the tennis courts) is run out of the old field house at the park. Tom’s idea!

Great recent issue

Congratulations on your 14 yrs of publication. This issue [of InCity Times] hit home with me, as I was instrumental in getting both the South Worcester Neighborhood [Center] and the Crompton Park Opportunity Center in the park buildings when I was [City of Worcester Parks] Commissioner and my idea as I could get federal funds to fix them up through park grants.

I worked closely with Ron [Charette] and Lorraine Laurie to make this happen and give them a home. Still working out great and gives me great satisfaction.

Tom Taylor

Ron Charette, on left, director of the South Worcester Neighborhood Center, outside the center. The center’s housed inside the huge park building at Maloney Field.DSCF0943-1

Green Island: Lorraine!!! and … City of Worcester beautifies Crompton Park!

WIN_20150328_234135 (2)-1Sweet Lorraine! Lorraine Laurie in a sparkly Christmas blouse!

Lorraine Laurie 101

By Rosalie Tirella

Lorraine Laurie has been the “Mayor of Green Island” for more than 35 years! Born and raised on nearby Dorchester Street, she fell in love with Millbury Street/the Crompton Park area as a young woman fresh out of Anna Maria College. Lorraine began her love affair with Green Island in earnest then! She helped organize and chaired Green Island residents’ groups galore, befriended the area’s senior citizens and wrote a history of her adopted neighborhood! For many years her typewritten history, with the construction paper cover, was housed in the file cabinet of the Green Island Community Development Corporation where she worked as the neighborhood outreach worker, the virgin draft lovingly stapled together, illustrated by Lorraine!, always available to all to peruse or read!

Lorraine first began her political activism on behalf of Green Island in the 1980s, working with the late, great District 4 Worcester City Councilor Jan Nadeau. Lorraine organized the neighborhood’s seniors around Jan’s causes because Jan, who lived in a teeny house on Southgate Street, was TOTALLY FOR THE PEOPLE OF OUR HOOD! She only weighed around 95 pounds but Jan was a force to be reckoned with when she latched onto a neighborhood issue. A great advocate for us! We still miss this wisp of a lady, a cigarette always at her fingertips, that raspy laugh – more generous and sweet than rough! 

Lorraine, along with Jan and then Mayor Ray Mariano, fought like hell to build a seniors housing complex in “the Island,” so the neighborhood’s elderly had a safe place to live and enjoy their golden years. Today Lafayette Place, on Lafayette Street, the street where I grew up, still shines with old folks who can be seen going in and out of the building or working in the Lafayette Place community garden!

Lafayette Place would never have happened without Lorraine. She’s got pitbull tenacity when it comes to her beloved old folks!

Further up the road, on Vernon Street, Lorraine works with Sister Pat and the Ascension church campus folks to make that part of our neighborhood sparkle! She is a member of St. John’s Church on Temple Street and is on the church volunteer board. St. John’s Father Madden leads the parish – and provides the direction and vision for the Ascension church campus and St. John’s food pantry and community kitchen where lunch and breakfast are served daily.

Lorraine has been a part of all this!

Lately, she’s been doing quite a bit of Green Island reporting for InCity Times! Lorraine has a way with her Bic, all right! Good stuff, Lorraine! 

We thank Lorraine for her decades of volunteerism, true-blue devotion to Green Island … and that great, toothy grin!

Smile bright, grrrl! Smile on!!!


Crompton Park – Green Island’s “Jewel” – to Shine

By Lorraine Laurie

Did you know that the Green Island neighborhood has a “jewel” in its midst?   It’s Crompton Park bordered by Quinsigamond Ave. and Endicott, Harding and Canton Streets. The park is 14.63 acres and is located in the southern part of the “Island.”   Crompton Park has been home to the Green Island Neighborhood Center for over 30 years and also features “Cousy Court” named in honor of basketball great Bob Cousy and a $2.7 million dollar state of the art swimming pool complex.

This year, the “precious gem” is going to shine even more thanks to a $400,000. Parkland Acquisitions and Renovation for Communities (PARC) grant from the State.  The City of Worcester has also committed $600,000. to the project. State Representative Daniel Donahue and State Senator Michael Moore were very supportive of the grant proposal.  Representative Donahue, when asked about his feelings about the grant being awarded said” I am overjoyed to see the long overdue renovations coming to Crompton Park.  Crompton Park is one of the most used and beloved parks in the City and the upgrades now coming will allow the park to continue to serve the neighborhood and those who come to use the park.  It was great to work with the City to help secure a PARC grant from the State for $400,000. with matching funds from the City to make this project a reality.”

According to Robert C. Antonelli, Jr.  Assistant Commissioner City of Worcester- DPW & Parks, plans call for moving the existing entrance drive on the Canton Street side to the other side of the pool, upgrading tennis courts, making a new parking area and doing other miscellaneous upgrades.  Antonelli said that the parking area is being moved “to allow for more open play space between the pool and the playground as well as expand parking in a more controlled area and upgrade the tennis courts.” District 4 City Councilor Sarai Rivera, a big supporter of Worcester parks for family recreation, pointed out that “We will also have bases for future lighting on the tennis courts” and a handball area.  The work will start in August of this year after the pool season, Green Island Neighborhood Center summer program and Tenacity ends.   Hopes are that most of the work will be completed by November 2015 but some work may spill over to spring of 2016.

The plans for this and future upgrades came as a result of several well attended public planning sessions held at the Green Island Neighborhood Center in late 2010 and early 2011.  The plans were approved by the Parks Commission on March 31, 2011 and by the Worcester City Council on February 28, 2012.    What makes this planning session so special is that the master plan is available for viewing on the City Parks Department web site. According to Mr. Antonelli, the City “will continue to look at grant opportunities as well as state, local and federal funding.” Sophia Brozowski, a long- time Green Island resident and activist who participated in the planning sessions said that she has “high hopes for the project but wishes that the implementation was more timely.”

Ron Charette, Executive Director of the South Worcester Neighborhood Improvement Corporation which runs the Green Island Neighborhood Center, attended and hosted the planning sessions.  He summed it up this way. “The renovations that will soon take place in Crompton Park are a sure sign that the Green Island neighborhood is alive and healthy.  A state of the art neighborhood park and swimming pool are key ingredients to good quality of life in the Green Island Neighborhood.”  Crompton Park will continue to shine as the “jewel” of the Island neighborhood.

Fit and trim in Green Island!

By Maureen Schwab

If you are looking for a fast, convenient and free way to stay healthy in Green Island, come join the Pernet Walking Club. Every Thursday, at 9AM, members are led by volunteer fitness coach Mary Mac Adam in an hour long walk and exercise session that takes place at Crompton Park. The group meets by the pool, and is open to everyone on a drop-in basis.

According to Pernet staff member and walking club member, Sr. Connie Charette, the program started in May, and has continued weekly for the past several months. Mac Adam came to Pernet to volunteer her time in any way necessary, and with her available expertise, it was decided to try a fitness project.

Helping the people of Green Island stay healthy is part of the Pernet mission and vision for the community. “Two objectives are met with fitness projects; good health and building community”, said Sr. Connie who is also involved with the construction of the ice rink which will be open to skaters of all ages this winter.

There are a number of ways to stay fit in Green Island. We have a wonderful park, which hosts many baseball, football, soccer and rugby matches throughout the year, and flat level streets for walking and cycling. Bike lanes were added to Millbury Street last year, and federal and state money is being used to construct the Quinsigamond River Bikeway, and the Blackstone River Bikeway.

The new playground at the corner of Canton and Harding has become a popular spot for parents to bring their children. It has a wonderful assortment of equipment which neighborhood children of various ages can enjoy, and lots of open space for games of tag, kite flying or turning cartwheels. At legendary Cousy Court, located at the corner of Endicott and Harding, you will find basketball games going on between organized teams, or neighborhood kids just about every day.

If you can’t join the walking club, feel free to take a walk around the park on your own. Two laps around the park is a little more than one mile. More people are walking with dogs, which is a double benefit; walking and companionship. During the summer months, we have our wonderful swimming pool and tennis lessons for children at the courts on Canton Street.

It is wonderful to see neighborhood residents and children play in and around Crompton Park (Yes, adults are allowed to play too!).We still have problems with broken bottles and trash in the park, but The Park and Rec Dept, has been doing a good job of keeping the park clean, and the Worcester Police patrol regularly and are quick to respond to any complaint.

I encourage everyone to read “Health of Worcester 2012”, available online at www.worcesterma.gov. , and located on the Public Health page. This report, prepared by Dale Magee, M.D. and Derek Brindisi, MPH, provides a “snapshot” of Worcester’s health.

Magee and Brindisi state that the top Public Health priority for the years 2011-2015 is to decrease obesity and overweight by 5% in 5 years. How do we do this? Simple; eat better and move more! Eating better is easier when your diet includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. The Farmers Market has been to Crompton Park several times over the past summer, and hopefully will be there more often next summer. You can learn about healthy cooking and eating from any number of books available for free at the Worcester Public Library.

Good health is not a given, and most people must make an effort to eat healthy foods and exercise even a little. Magee and Brindisi state that social determinates; lack of education, single parenthood, poverty, an unsafe environment and substance abuse all take years off of our lives. If you live in Green Island, you can start a healthier life for yourself and your children by simply opening your door and taking a walk. If we all do a little more walking, skating, basketball or cycling, our neighborhood benefits and becomes healthier too.

Can the Green Island neighborhood come back?

By Maureen Schwab

The old J.J. Nissen Baking Company building that was located at 75 Quinsigamond Ave, near Brosnihan Square is gone – we all remember it fondly. The brick building, which went up in 1920, met the final blow of the wrecking ball Friday, January 20, 2012. Growing up a few blocks from the bakery, I can still remember the wonderful smell of baking bread in the air; a scent that still gives me a sense of peace and happiness. For 53 years, Green Island residents enjoyed the sweet aroma of baking bread, until the last batches were baked and the ovens turned off for the last time in May 1998. The bakery thrifty store, where one could buy bread, cakes, pies and cookies at a fraction of the supermarket price, closed in 2010.

The smell of baking bread may not be high on the list of what makes a neighborhood great, but as far as I am concerned, it was a treasured asset. My neighbors at the northern end of Green Island at Kelley Sq. can still enjoy the smell of pies baking in the Table Talk ovens, and every once in a while I can catch a whiff of sweet, delightful pie as I walk or drive through Kelley Sq. I would be remiss if I failed to mention Widoff’s bakery on Water St. For many years, my Mom would drive down to pick up a dozen hot bulkies on Sunday morning. The hot yeasty aroma of a hot bulkie would hit you in the face as soon as you opened the paper bag to grab one while it was still hot. These days, it’s the raisin and cinnamon babka, and Tiramisu cake that keeps me coming back.

Everyone has an opinion about what makes a neighborhood great. Urban theorist, Richard Florida, tells us that a good neighborhood is one that you have a high degree of emotional attachment to. He found that two factors were critical to developing this attachment; first was finding a community that treats all of its residents fairly; ethnic minorities, new immigrants, rich, poor, young, old, families, working folks, students and artist, and the most important factor; the quality of the neighborhood itself. Does it have trees and open space, are historic buildings and homes preserved? Does it have some kind of physical beauty?

Green Island has many dedicated residents and several active resident groups that are bringing new life and good ideas to our little corner of Worcester, people who have made the emotional attachment and want to see Green Island flourish. The establishment of a tenet-landlord association could be the first important step in improving the quality of our neighborhood. Currently, approximately 75% of Green Island housing is renter occupied. Some properties are beautifully maintained and others are nothing but dumps that no one cares about; including the landlords! Many of the three deckers that line the streets of Green Island are 100 years old. These are historic buildings that should be preserved, and can be if people start to appreciate their value and beauty.

Along with our historic three deckers, we have the history of Green Island and its role in the Industrial Revolution and the building of the Blackstone Canal. According to Richard Florida, neighborhoods that are exciting, that are great, have a long history behind them. We also can boast about our diversity, everyone who comes to live here is accepted and welcome, and diversity, according to Florida, also leads to a higher rate of emotional attachment to a neighborhood.

What Green Island is lacking however, and always has, is social and economic status. We have history and diversity; true, but status; not so much. Our incomes and education levels are lower than those who live in the more affluent neighborhoods in the city, and because of the high number of renters, our population is more transient and less likely to become involved in organizations and projects that upgrade the neighborhood and our quality of life.

The most desirable neighborhoods, according to Richard Florida, look increasingly similar no matter where they are. They are safe, they have good schools, and they are filled with families as well as singles. The current economic crisis has taught us the hard way, states Florida, that we need to live within our means, to forestall debt; it’s made us understand that we don’t have to define ourselves in terms of material goods, that we can achieve a more meaningful and sustainable way of life that is not based on income alone.

Recently, a Worcester Firefighter died while putting out a fire that started in a three decker on Arlington St. The property had multiple code violations and is owned by a woman who lives in Newton. Why in the world would someone come from wealthy Newton to buy three deckers in Worcester and then rent out poorly maintained apartments to people who are probably struggling financially? In my opinion owning property you wouldn’t live in yourself is unethical and a seriously pathetic way to make a buck.

Let’s not let anything like that happen in Green Island, I hope people will take a fresh look at this neighborhood, and see all of the good things we have here. In a way, its back to the future; 100 years ago people bought and maintained homes in Green Island that gave then a meaningful and sustainable way of life; and I believe it can happen again.

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.