By Steven R. Maher
This has to be one of the stupidest, most asinine proposals to emerge from the bowels of Worcester in the past several years: Convert the Worcester Library Parking into an indoor skating rink. Whatever crackpot came up with this idea should be put into a straitjacket and packed off to an asylum. Or maybe someone just smoked some bad crack.
The Worcester Telegram reported on December 20, 2012, that, as part of a proposal by the Worcester Business Development Corporation (WBDC) to set up a theatre district, an indoor skating rink would be constructed on the Francis J. McGrath Parking Lot adjacent to the library. It would be “one of the three major components in revitalizing the area.”
When I first read the Telegram article, I thought this was a joke. Worcester taxpayers, citizens, and philanthropists have spent huge sums of money converting the library from a seedy, urban eyesore with restrooms populated by perverts into one of Worcester’s greatest gems. The Worcester Library is a state of the art facility with beautifully renovated reading areas, scanners so people can check out their own books, and well equipped computer areas. Whenever this writer goes into the library, there are large numbers of inner city youth using the computers. Apparently the WBDC birdbrains think these youth would rather skate on ice than the internet.
This writer lives in Auburn but prefers to use the Worcester library, since it has a wider variety of books. Most of the book reviews in the InCity Times are of books borrowed from the Worcester Public Library. Why would anyone use a library if there is no parking nearby? A library without a parking lot is like a hot dog without mustard.
The library’s board of directors, to their credit, strongly opposes this ludicrous proposal. One of them called the plan “crazy.” Implementing the plan would require the Off Street Parking Board to vote that “the lot is no longer needed for its intended purpose, and if the board determines that it is no longer needed, custody would be handed over to the city manager.” “If the lot were transferred, it’s the end of the library downtown,” Worcester Library Board of Directors Kevin Dowd said of the proposal.
Worcester could then end up with an airport AND a library that no one uses. Sounds like Worcester, doesn’t it?
Nobody elected the WBDC. According to its website, the WBDC was established as a quasi-public agency by the state in 1965, with a stated goal of creating more private sector jobs, particularly in manufacturing. The WBDC should stick to that instead of ruining a city institution which actually works.