Tag Archives: Green Hill Park

Get ready! Autumn’s almost here! … and … REC Farmers Market – across from Foley Stadium!

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pic:R.T.

By Edith Morgan

It’s inevitable: every year at this time, it comes upon us, gradually, sometimes almost unnoticed.

But all the signs are there: Already, it’s darker when I wake up, and for the last two nights, I’ve pulled the blankets higher over myself. Driving home from Lincoln Plaza, if I tarry a bit longer, I no longer have to fight the blinding glare of the setting sun.

The calendar says September, but fall is not really due to arrive until after the 21st. The maple tree in front of my house is still green, and there are only a few leaves on the ground, dried up from the lack of rain. But I know it is all coming, soon! I have started to wear long sleeves, and the temperature is perfect for sitting outside, reading, listening to music or just enjoying the passing ”parade” of traffic.

But the most obvious sign is the steady parade of school buses and of children walking with backpacks, adding to the morning and evening “rush.” The neighborhood has suddenly grown quieter, as studying and earlier bedtimes replace the summer games and activities.

Though the calendar says that fall does not officially begin until closer to the end of the month, so many signs come well before that date: not just the start of school and college, but the planning for next year’s garden, checking the heating system, pruning the bushes once more before winter and fully enjoying all the special activities that are particular to this season. We are surrounded by small towns that have great fairs at this time: some are very old and historical, like the Hardwick Fair; some still feature the doings of 4H and offer close contact with what so may of us in the city no longer get to see: real live farm animals, raised lovingly by the latest generation of farmers. (The animals have not changed much, but the technology has!) Time to visit our favorite nature haunts and all our great Worcester Parks!

I am not so dedicated a gardener that I want to put in a last, fast-growing crop of radishes or lettuce; but I do want to dig up some herbs to grow inside for the winter. Somehow, freshly cut herbs have so much more “bang” to them! I‘m getting my fill of tomatoes now, as my friends and children bring us all kinds and sizes, still warm from the sun. I have always felt bad for those who smoke a lot, as their taste buds are so damaged (at least temporarily) that they miss out on the wonderful and varied flavors of the fresh produce available everywhere now.

And, not to bring up unpleasant subjects, this is the time to trim out the great accumulations of unneeded “stuff” that has accumulated over the summer and to make room for winter clothes … bringing plants indoors and carrying out some of my favorite plant experiments, with seeds that have ripened over the summer.

And this year, I won’t make the mistake of planting a lot of bulbs in the fall, as the squirrels and other visitors from the park managed to dig them all up last autumn and eat them all up!

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And don’t forget!

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Farmers Market 1-1-1

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Grant Park: ribbon cutting at last!

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Late summer bloomers… pic:R.T.

By Edith Morgan

It was touch and go for a little while on Saturday, August 6th: the skies opened up and a sudden shower soaked us as we loaded things into the car at 10 a.m. to take to the picnic at Grant Park. We DID have a rain date set up for Sunday, but a quick phone call to Wini, the moving spirit and co-chair of the Green Hill Neighborhood Association, with Deb Bolz, assured me that the event would go on as planned. And sure enough, the sky cleared, and we proceeded!

This was a long-awaited event, and even though there are still a few pieces missing in the park’s improvements, it was really time to celebrate how far we had come, and how much was already accomplished.

So, at noon, a ribbon-cutting ceremony took place – with a large number of Worcester officials and elected officials participating. Our mayor Joe Petty, City Manager Ed Augustus, our District Councilor Candy Mero-Carlson, our previous longtime councilor Phil Palmieri, School Committee member John Monfredo, Councilor Kate Toomey, State Representative Mary
Keefe, State Senator Harriette Chandler, newly appointed Worcester Police Chief Steve Sargent – and Lt. Governor Karen Polito – (did I omit anyone?) all came to help cut the ribbon and say a few words to the assembled neighbors.

Several of them said: When Wini calls, everyone comes!

And therein lies a story: Although Wini has not lived here all her life, in the time she has been here, she has been an unyielding champion for, and advocate, for her neighborhood, its children and its inhabitants. Noting that there was a great concentration of social service agencies, Wini and Deb invited them to participate in our neighborhood and help in its improvement – and help they did!

Grant Park was for many years just a weed-infested block, with a basketball court at one end, often strewn with litter and drug paraphernalia, pretty much neglected and uncared for.

But Wini, owning a home right across the street from this park, was determined that this park should become a jewel in the area: playground equipment, fencing, retaining walls, benches – all sorts of amenities needed to make this park a gathering place for all ages in this community.

The Regional Environmental Council created garden plots there, and money was appropriated while Phil Palmieri was our city councilor. With constant pressure from Wini and her neighbors, finally a state-of-the art park was created. And this summer it was one of the sites for the city’s summer recreation program, RECREATION WORCESTER.

After the ribbon cutting, the picnic began in earnest: hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, soda, water and various hot dishes and salads as well as Table Talk pies for everyone were in plentiful supply – and lots of volunteers from the area, who passed out food and drinks, set up tables and chairs, and kept everything clean and tidy.

Around the periphery, tables set up by Lt. Annie of the police department, as well as Niko from the election commission giving out voter information, the USDA booth about the Asian longhorned beetle, and other displays to inform neighbors were there.

And for the younger children, Annie Parsnips, the clown, made balloon animals and with the able assistance of neighborhood residents, painted faces.

There is still work to be done at Grant Park, and perhaps by next August, we can celebrate the installation of the lights.

Our thanks to all who contributed, who helped, who attended – who supplied food and music (I am remiss in not having gotten the name of our disc jockey!!). And most of all, thanks to Winifred – Wini – Octave and Debra Bolz, without whose persistence and belief in the goodness of our neighborhood all this would not have been accomplished!

Green Hill Park Neighbors!

But first…in Piedmont, a neighborhood celebration at the “Peace Park,” corner of Winslow and Pleasant streets … and watch for the painted piano! – pic:R.T.

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By Edith Morgan

For have lived here, two houses down from Green hill Park, for years – and would not live anywhere else. We are not the most exclusive neighborhood, nor the wealthiest (unless you count the 400 acres of natural beauty just under our noses) – but we enjoy the benefits of all that this great park has to offer, without having to own the area. And maybe because it is so close, we are inspired to try to imitate what nature puts here.

I was driving down one of the nearby streets, and stopped to admire a spectacular yard, filled with all sorts of flowering bushes , grasses, vines, and other plants. There was very little grass – but everything was in bloom, even though it is now late in the season. A beautiful black butterfly flitted by as we talked on the sidewalk, bound for the butterfly bush in the corner. Graceful grasses, over four feet tall, waved gently in the breeze, and the wooden fence was twined with morning glory vines, ready to bloom. Every where something was growing and blooming, thriving …

When I asked where all these plants came from, I was told that most were started from seed, and others were purchased at the end of the season locally, on sale: they were what I call my poor little orphans, the plants that have dried out or look nearly dead, but with a little TLC and some severe pruning can be convinced to revive and take root. Over the years, at this time, I have learned to go to the back of the garden area at Lowe’s , etc. where there are often racks of half dead plants for sale for almost nothing. It’s always a gamble as to whether they will respond, but it is worth a try….. I guess I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the ignored ones – but I also have some one-of-a-kind , more exotic plants , just for variety and extra challenge.

After I left the beautiful front yard garden abutting Green Hill Park, I returned home, where our best friend brought us two baskets of his special home grown tomatoes. This is the height of the season, and there is really nothing to compare to tomatoes still warm from the sun, perfect, and of all sizes – and so many different flavors! I know that some of them make excellent sauces, but I couldn‘t resist eating several right away.

We got to talking about three of the tomatoes, Hungarian Heart tomatoes, huge, heavy, and of unusual shape, allegedly free of seeds, each looking like some sort of sculpture. The seeds are imported from Hungary, and the plants produce the biggest, most strangely-shaped tomatoes! One may weigh several pounds and weigh down the plant!

We got to reminiscing about our tomato experiences: at the end of the season, the green tomatoes are collected, and made into pickled tomatoes. And I recalled that as a child in France, we had green tomato jam .
As we get older, we think more and more about planting flowering perennials, so we will not have to replant or mow all the time in the future. Grass is so boring compared to all those other plants!

Green Hill Park Revisited

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pic:R.T.

By Edith Morgan

In 1993, when our neighborhood organizations first got together, one of our big concerns was the condition of Green Hill Park. We really did not know very much about it, but since it was so close, and so big, we set about getting better acquainted with it. There was the golf course, of course, and a buffalo pen, lots of woodland, a “farm “ featuring some farm animals – mostly sheep, chickens, and in the spring, piglets – and of course, the llamas. The Air National Guard base was there, still guarding us 50 years after the end of World War II – and two huge water towers dominating the hill overlooking the landfill, where the quarry had been.
The city operated a mulching operation next to the “farm,” where people from all over the city could bring their brush. Skyline Drive was being used as a cut-through between Lincoln and Belmont streets . The city had pretty much let these 500 acres go to seed, and the golf course was basically an inexpensive old timers’ club, a 120-acre grassy expanse on the northeast side of the park.

But in the nineties, a number of events conspired to bring the park to our attention. One of my neighbors found an old paper that detailed the agreement between he city and the Green Family members who had sold this huge property to Worcester in 1905 – at a ridiculously low price!!- with the stipulation that at least 400 acres of it would always be available to the people of Worcester as a park. We were informed that legally the city was no longer bound by that agreement, as it was a requirement that to keep this agreement in force, a letter would have had to be sent to the city after every 50 years to renew this requirement. Unfortunately, the Green family had not renewed the agreement; but we made the MORAL argument that the city still had an obligation to live up to the responsibility it had to preserve this great property for the use of ALL the people. And this is what happened.

Now, nearly 15 years later, the change in Green Hill Park is truly heartwarming: I drove through the park twice recently, to re-acquaint myself with all its features and to enjoy what it now has to offer.

Most noticeable is the fact that there are now so many people using the park! Driving in from Green Hill Parkway, which is one-way from Lincoln Street, we stopped at Memorial Grove, where a young family was blowing soap bubbles for their young child, and watching the rainbow-colored bubbles float out over the hill. We admired the two well-manicured monuments on the left side of the street, and drove down toward the Vietnam War soldiers memorial, with its beautifully landscaped walkways, the pond, and the enormous granite stones aat one end engraved with letters from young soldiers who did not return, and the plaza at the other end, containing the names of all the fallen ones engraved in stone – a memorial visited by many people from many places. It is a site to be visited often, and wonderfully quieting and serene.

Opposite the memorial, the pond offers a great area for picnics, walks, runs, even fishing. Groups of all kinds gather under the roof of the pavilion, now restored and flanked by a plaza with flowers and benches, overlooking the pond.

Further down the road, we come to the newly fenced-in farm and the community gardens, with new buildings (I did not have a chance to go in and see what they contained – that will be for another trip!). Then we come to a new children’s playground, with its own parking lot, and proceed down through a wooded area, and we come upon a new baseball field.

Going on, we come upon the shared facility where now are the offices of the Parks Department. Traveling down the road, past newly painted handball courts, we see on our right, the finally properly capped landfill area, where there are now playing fields shared by the nationally famous Worcester Technical Vocational School, and the people of the city, as this area as still part of the park.

Going down the street, we come to the light at Belmont Street – and we finish our tour of Green Hill Park. We have been very fortunate to have had the support and eternal vigilance of not only the Green Hill Park Coalition, but also of the Worcester City Council.

I am not always certain that the people of Worcester fully appreciate what a great jewel this park is and how very fortunate we are to have it – and that we have so many people willing to watch over its use and to make sure we preserve and enhance it.

Grant Park, off Lincoln Street – always in style!

20160627_172319-1-1 pic: R.T.

Grant Park Ribbon Cutting

By Edith Morgan

At last, Grant Park is ready to be formally recognized! Saturday, August 6, at 12 noon, there will be a formal ribbon cutting ceremony at the Park, with city officials (elected and appointed) there to celebrate the occasion.

The ceremony will mark the completion of the improvements in this neighborhood park, celebrating the achievement of several years of persistent and unfailing efforts by Winifred Octave, who lives right across from the park, and her co-chair, Debra Bolz.

Though small, this park is situated in an area (off Lincoln Street) that badly needed it, and is used by many residents in this densely populated Worcester neighborhood.

All are invited to come and view the new basketball court, the garden area, the places to sit beneath trees and just enjoy the outdoors, meeting with friends and neighbors.

The ceremony will be followed by the Green Hill Neighborhood Association’s fourth annual picnic, which is usually attended by more than 300 neighbors and friends!

Our picnic will feature music, food, entertainment for children, including balloons and face painting, and displays by several city agencies. Refreshments are being donated by area businesses and individuals, and volunteers will be helping with the set-up, serving, grilling, and cleaning up.

The American Chestnut tree returns to Worcester!

By Ruth Seward, Director of the Worcester Tree Initiative

The American Chestnut tree was a dominant tree species in the forests of eastern America.  People depended on this fast-growing tree for its wood which is light-weight, easy to work with, and rot resistant, making it ideal for any projects, including building homes and barns, fences, furniture and even musical instruments. The nut was also a central part of American life as a feed for livestock and a crucial food source for wildlife.  The chestnut was also a reliable source of nutrition for families throughout the United States, and it was common for people to forage the nuts and utilize them in daily recipes or sell them for extra income.

chestnutat ghpPlanting a baby chestnut tree in Green Hill Park! Yay!!!

However, in the early 1900’s a fungal blight accidentally introduced from Asia began to kill the American Chestnut.  The trees in our North American Forests had no resistance to this newly introduced organism.  Working its way through the forests this fungal disease killed every Chestnut tree in its way. By 1950 virtually all of the American Chestnut Trees had vanished from the American landscape with the exception of a few scattered trees located mostly in Virginia.

This tragic loss spurred some early, unsuccessful efforts to find resistant varieties of American Chestnuts and to breed them. However, no hope was found among the surviving trees. In 1985 The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) was created as a way to organize the reintroduction of a blight resistant chestnut tree.  By cross-breeding the Chinese Chestnut Tree and the American Chestnut Tree TACF has successfully developed hybrid species which are resistant to the blight.

chestnuttreeThis little guy is safe and secure!

By continuing to breed these resistant varieties with true American Chestnuts TACF now has a hybrid which is genetically 93% American Chestnut. And the nut of these trees looks and tastes like the original! By planting these saplings in the native habitat of historic American Chestnut trees eventually a new forest will emerge and the important lumber and food crop will be restored.

On Friday, May 1, 2015, the Worcester Tree Initiative, in partnership with the City of Worcester, Green Hill Park Coalition, Worcester Technical High School, the Worcester Garden Club, and the American Chestnut Foundation celebrated Arbor Day by planting 15 American Chestnut Trees in Green Hill Park on Skyline Drive.

This is an incredible milestone in bringing back this iconic American tree! Worcester is honored to be the recipient of such a generous gift. In particular this gift is significant in the face of the loss of city trees to the Asian Longhorned Beetle in the wooded areas adjacent to Green Hill park. These trees are symbols of the resilience of trees and forests. The trees, which grow very quickly, will soon be casting shade and producing their spiny, shelled fruits.

We look forward to watching them thrive in Green Hill park and eventually finding saplings sprouting in the forest!

Springtime … new beginnings for Green Hill Park … and humankind?

By Edith Morgan

On March 20th, the calendar said that spring begins in these parts and, after a winter to remember, we watched as the mountains of snow slowly melted down;  again the roads were wide enough for two cars to pass, the pavement showed gray and black and passable, crews were out filling in the cracks and potholes left by the winter.

I live two houses down from Green Hill Park, and for over two weeks I heard the roar of heavy equipment: sawing and chipping and hauling away the wooded cover on the hill, leaving a few skinny trees, with daylight filtering through where before there was dense forest growth.

Muddy ruts and stumps mark the hillside, making the area look like a war zone.

But I have lived near the park long enough to know that Mother Nature is not so easily stopped.

While the habitat of this generation’s wildlife (the voles, skunks, squirrels, coyotes, wild turkeys – myriad other animals, small and large) have lost their homes and their cover, in two or three decades, the devastated hillsides will once again sport trees.

The old meadow on Denmark Street where we picked wild blueberries and strawberries so long ago, which was overrun by trees, is now once again nearly bare. But spring is here, and nature abhors a vacuum and will soon replant itself. Hopefully, the birds and wildlife will return, as they have so many time before, despite human depredations. And so, I am hopeful, and will go out and look for signs of life when the last snow is gone and the mud dries.

This is the season of spring holidays. We celebrate Passover and Easter at this time: both are festivals of new beginnings, celebrating the coming of the new and hopefully better beginnings for humans, at a time when nature is also coming back to life all around us.

Worcester does a big cleanup called Earth Day on Saturday, April 18!

Spring housecleaning is a yearly ritual. Jews clean for Passover, remove leavened foods, change to special dishes and, in a great many ways, remember and celebrate the exodus from slavery in Egypt three millennia ago by recalling the suffering of those days and celebrating the ultimate arrival in the promised land.

Christians celebrate the return of Jesus risen from the grave, and everywhere are seen the symbols of rebirth – the eggs, the flowers, chicks and bunnies for the children, and a spirit of renewal and hope pervades us all.

But as I look around our country, our world, I see too many people still mired in the winter of war, poverty, hatred and fear. Too many are still enslaved by their addictions, their hatreds and their irrationalities. How great it would be if this season of hope and appreciation for what we have could spread like a great contagion and envelop our world. Could the dove of peace have a chance to survive the constant assault of the hawks, eagles and vultures filling our skies?

I wish all our InCity Times readers joyous beginnings at this time! Happy Passover and Happy Easter to all!

The Worcester dog park public hearing

By Edith Morgan

Finally, after nearly two decades of talking about it, Worcester is poised to create a dog park!! After a hearing at City Hall on Wednesday, February 26, with a very detailed presentation by Rob Antonelli who has been working on this problem for a decade or more, many dog owners and neighbors testified. It seems there is consensus that such a park is badly needed. With well over 10,000 properly licensed dogs in the city , and who knows how many more that are not, it is clear that there is a large garoup of residents for whom such a park would be a real boon.

Since dogs have to be “walked” at least twice a day, just to “take care of business,” and for many dog owners there is not a big, fenced-in yard available, our sidewalks and neighborhood lawns are all that is available to them. Many are very conscientious about carrying bags and picking up after their pets – but there is something missing.

Like their owners, many dogs greatly enjoy romping about freely, playing with other dogs, having “friends” in their own world. And many need an open space where they can run off the energy that builds up when they are cooped up all day inside.

So … once all the arguments in favor of a dog park were made, we had to address the details; the big question was LOCATION. We all know about NIMBY (not in my back yard), which is very understandable: fears of traffic, odors, parking problems, maintenance, were all voiced. And I am confident that in the next few months these will be addressed. We were told that it is unlikely that much will get done before next spring – so there is time to seek solutions to these problems before then.

A number of speakers at the hearing volunteered to give of their time in the park – and many also volunteered to become members of a “Friends of the Dog Park”, similar to several successful such organizations that already exist in our city: we have “The Friends of the Senior Center”, “Friends of Newton Hill” ( whose founder Rick Miller has just been recognized for his many years of devotion to that area), “The Green Hill Park Coalition”, and “Park Spirit, Inc.” (which has been advocating for our parks and raising funds for the Elm Park Summer concerts, etc… ) – to mention a few of the groups that are made up of citizen volunteers.

So it seems there are already many people ready to step up and help to make this park a success. They gave their names to the Committee, and I am certain they will be called upon soon . I know that a well-run dog park will cost to construct properly, and then will require regular maintenance and supervision and perhaps improvements as we experience its use. But as with so many other successful projects in our great city, once we decide to accomplish something, we always find help among our citizens, our businesses, and our elected officials.