Tag Archives: ice oval

The Monuments by Worcester City Hall

The George Hoar monument

By Gordon Davis

Yesterday morning a friend called me to get historical information about the Worcester Common, behind our City Hall.  She has lived in Worcester for most of her life. She has seen the Common go through several iterations.

She is too young to remember the Old South (Congregational) that doubled as a religious meeting house and the Town Hall.  The cemetery in the Common is of parishioners. The Church still exists on Salisbury Street.

She is not too young to remember the so called reflecting pool that only seemed to collect trash and restrict the foot traffic flow through the park area. The architect seemed not to have read Jane Jacobs!

The jury is still out on the Ice Oval which doubles as a skating rink in the winter and a sitting/eating area in the summer. I have never used the skating rink, but I like the tables and sun umbrellas in the summer.

Monuments sprinkle the Worcester Common and nearby area.  Some of them are relatively new.


There is a monument concerning the genocide of Armenian people by the Turks during World War I.  This monument is located on the right hand side of the front of City Hall as you face City Hall.

There is also an Irish Cross which symbolizes the 1916 Easter Rebellion by the Irish Republican Army against British rule.

Korean War memorial

The number of war memorials is surprising. The most surprising is that of the anti-imperialist and anti-racist founder of Worcester Polytechnical Institute, George Hoar (above). His image sits majestically wondering why the City has not changed much of its war mentality or its racist policies. Mr. Hoar opposed the Spanish American War.

The City has honored Colonel Biglow of Worcester who fought against he British in the War of American Independence.

The Civil War memorial has the names of the 398 soldiers from Worcester who died fighting the racist Confederacy and its system of chattel slavery.
There is a relatively new monument to the brave trooper who gave their lives in the Iraq Wars I and II. I suppose we will have to modify the monument to include Iraq War III.

On the side of City Hall there is a statue of an American GI. This generation fought the Nazis and the Axis of Fascism, Germany, Italy, and Japan government.  The Honor Roll of Black Veterans should be erected next to it, instead of on the isolated traffic island in Lincoln Square.

Across the street from the Worcester Commons is the first Vietnam War memorial. It predates the extravagance in Green Hill Park.  I thought for a while no knew that it existed, but every once and while I see flowers there.


A few blocks away is the Korean War memorial (above). Although the statue is moving, it is pretext. Nonetheless, the soldiers who died and fought there performed their duty as they understood it. 

Unfortunately, it has the feel of the Western savior. Many more Koreans died in that Cnflict than Westerners.

The Worcester Common’s character changed when the Worcester Regional Transportation moved it busses to the Hub.

What will our Common be like with the demolition of Notre Dame and finished construction of City Square?


civil war

Ice skating on the Worcester Common ice oval … $25 per pair of skates …

By Rosalie Tirella

… rental fee, if you don’t have a major credit card to go with the $3 rental fee

$2 per person – admission fee to this public space

Imagine being a poor family of, let’s say, five: a mom and a dad and three kids, 10, 12, 7 years old, and two of you don’t own skates, and you don’t have a credit card or your major credit card is tapped out. A day on the Worcester Common, public land, will cost you. And if you don’t have the dough, tough luck. You’re not allowed on public space.

Thank you, former Worcester City Manager Mike O’Brien!! The ice oval was O’Brien’s baby – he didn’t ask the community for any input – and so was the Ebenezer Scrooge price policy. O’Brien was not at all sensitive to poor folks and their struggles. He created this ice oval admission policy with his typical arrogance and rammed it down our throats. Yep. Create an ice rink on public land, in the middle of an impoverished city neighborhood, and charge $$$$. His line was: People will see its worth ONLY if they have to pay for the PRIVILEGE to skate on it.  What bull shit. O’Brien’s arrogance turned lots of human service workers and neighborhood activists against him. At the end of his Woo stint, Mike O’Brien stopped serving the PEOPLE of Worcester, a GATEWAY CITY, and got stuck doing somersaults inside the pockets of local biz folks.

We and others in the community railed against his insensitivity (remember how he lied to us all about keeping our neighborhood swimming pools open?) … boo boo boo we repeated over and over again. Then came the feds …HUD investigated Worcester and found O’Brien’s office wasn’t minding the store … . His people weren’t keeping track of how fed monies were being spent. So O’Brien  left, looking haggard, gray and peeved. Near the end he told me his job  had aged him in dog years.

Woof! Woof! You have no one to blame but your micro-managing self, Mikey!



Augustus is making almost $200,000 a year! A single guy. No kids, no college funds, no big headaches …  It is tough to relate to people on the edge when you are so lucky and privileged. Here’s hoping Ed Augustus can empathize and rise to the occasion!



Here’s the official Ice Oval admission policy  and rental fees from the CITY OF WORCESTER:

Admission for public skating is $2, children 6 and under skate free.

“Skate Rentals .During public skating hours at the Worcester Common Oval, ice skate rentals will be available for $3.

“Planning to rent skates? Save time by printing the attached form below and completing the application in advance. Remember you will need a MA driver’s license or a MA state identification, PLUS a major credit card in order to rent skates. If you don’t have a credit card, a $25 fully refundable cash deposit is required for each pair of skates rented.




Now that Ed Augustus is Worcester’s interim city manager …

By Rosalie Tirella

… I say HOORAY! !!!!!

Now that city leaders have picked a person who’s known for being a sensitive, good man … Now that we’ve traded Mike “Bloomberg” O’Brien for Ed “de Blasio” Augustus … Now that we have a city manager who is a little more keyed into kids and poverty …. Now that we have a new guy, Ed Augustus, who served on the Worcester School Committee and worked at the Children’s Defense Fund and was instumental in having Holy Cross sponsor our public library book-mobile (books and DVD s for our inner-city kids and adults) … Now that we have a city manager who HAS A HEART and is not a dictatorial workaholic manager-bot …

Why not have him null and void all fees for poor kids and families when it comes to THE ICE OVAL?????? Or, at the very least, WORK WITH LOCAL SPORTING GOOD STORES TO HAVE THEM DONATE A TON OF NEW ICE SKATES FOR LOW-INCOME FAMILIES TO USE ON THE OVAL FOR FREE?

That freaking municipal skating rink, financed by the people’s dough, taxes, sitting smack dab in the middle (well, sorta) on our city COMMON, has been stuck in my throat like a wayward turkey bone at Thanksgiving Day dinner! That skating rink should be FREE TO ALL. It’s on public land, it was built by public funds! Former City Manager hit a new nadir when he decided to lock poor Worcesterites off their property, when he turned poor Woo kids into charity cases by designating” special” days for them to skate on the Ice Oval. Like special school field trips.

I cannot wait until this city gives this city manager the heave ho. Ok, so he chose to bail on us …

Good people of Woo, O’Brien’s January departure is a good thing! This Thanksgiving Day let us be thankful for Ed Augustus!

While the ascension of Augustus was a tad … politically murky, he’s a most excellent choice! He has brains and a heart!

Here’s hoping his love of kids, especially those who may not be the richest babes in toyland, guides him to do the right thing with our Ice Oval.

All children and families should be able to skate on the Ice Oval. Any time they wanna have some winter fun!

Happy Thanksgiving to Woo!!!!!

YES! Sell the naming rights to the Ice Oval!

… Then use some of the money to purchase ice skates for kids/adults who cannot afford them. Put the new, donated skates in a large donation box to be used by Worcester folks who can’t pay the Ice Oval skate rental fees/do not own ice skates. Also, create free Ice Oval passes with the money. Let’s not deny ANY CHILD the chance to have some winter fun!

Great suggestion (selling the naming rights) from Worcester City Councilor at Large Konnie Lukes!!!

Childhood … lovely. Click on link below this photo to see one of my fave scenes from one of my fave movies!

– R. Tirella


Worcester City Council agenda for Tuesday, Jan. 22, and a song for City Manager Mike O’Brien

Meeting begins at 7 p.m., at City Hall, Main Street, downtown Worcester. Click on link below:  R. T.


City Manager Mike O’Brien’s report to the city council. Click on link below:


At some point, City Manager Mike “The world is my oyster, right?” O’Brien will take time out to tell the City Council what a big hit the Ice Oval is. Click on link below to see what he will present/say to the council (go to tool bar and hit 100% to enlarge the font.) Especially galling: O’Brien crows that he has gifted the lower classes with a free skating day now and then on the Ice Oval so Worcester Public School students can skate on THEIR and THEIR PARENTS’ common! Elm Park and other schools have taken advantage of  O’Brien’s special days for poor kids. Noblesse oblige, courtesy of Worcester’s very own Ebeneezer Scrooge.

Strong-mayor movement NOW!


Song for City Manager Mike O’Brien. Click on link below:


Wouldn’t you love …

By Rosalie Tirella

… a strong mayor for Worcester? Someone like Boston’s Tom Menino? Someone who could really build up a city but do it with heart? Have a kind of moral compass? Articulate a vision of the city, a vision that is inclusive, compassionate, fair-minded?

We don’t seem to get that with our City Manager Mike O’Brien. Lately, what with the CDCs, panhandlers, homeless folks, ice oval issues, it feels like we are living in some sort of mini-Russia, with O’Brien our Vladimir Putin. Only with way better hair.

I do not want to live in a city where good men like Steve Patton are demonized after years of public service and driven out of town. As if he were some kind of criminal.

I do not want to see panhandlers dragged off the streets by cops just because some upper middle class diner doesn’t like the way they looked at her.

I do not want to drive by our city hall to find NO ICE SKATERS ON THE ICE OVAL because the city manager is charging a $25 deposit to rent a pair of skates (plus admission fee!) and that the poorer folks who are usually around the common, with kids we may add, cannot afford the winter fun.

We want a strong mayor who makes policy but also speaks to our better selves, our inner angels.

I want a person who can say the things I want to hear. That Worcester cares about all its people. That the downtown common is for everyone to enjoy, and skate on. That the drug addicted and the homeless will not be packed off somewhere, such as the nearest police holding cell. That we have too many poor families and not enough safe, affordable apartments for them. That we will respect the people who live here. That we will not build walls. Only bridges.

O’Brien is a guy who cannot seem to say the grand, inspiring things that people want to, and need to, hear. Yes! Sometimes Worcesterites simply need to hear compassionate words from leaders, reassuring words. Sometimes we need to see our city leader handing out blankets to the homeless, a la Boston Mayor Tom Menino.

We need less tough talk in these difficult times, more pats on the back, a touch of the hand. Backed up, of course, by humane, inspired urban policy.

Yet another great female singer-song writer …

… all girls need to hear … Joni!!! Her lyrics will sweep up a sensitive teen, the way they did me when I was 16.

My favorite Joni Mitchell album? BLUE. Which I bought in Worcester, at the old Strawberry’s records on Front Street, years and years ago. A great holiday gift for any girl!

That’s what our new downtown needs – a record store. A record store filled with sharp kids who know their music and can talk music with you and recommend lps, etc. A place where smart customers come in and also share their thoughts on artists. This is how it used to be in downtown Worcester. There are still record stores (filled with CDs, books and DVDs) in Amherst, Cambridge, Northampton, etc. Bring back the record store! A place (sanctuary?) where serendipity ruled and you left with a record you had never heard of but couldn’t wait to go home to play just because some cool person took the time out to educate you (just like they did me at Strawberry’s years ago!). Click on links below to listen. – R. Tirella


And for our Ice Oval  …



By Rosalie Tirella

IOU – Ice Oval Update…

Drove by the ice oval at 5 p.m. today. Roughly the same number of people skating as yesterday eve. Thankfully, the police cruiser was now parked off the grass/oval area and on cement walkway off to the side.

The real crime seems to be the cost to poor families and the $25 you have to put down as a kind of security deposit if you want to rent a pair of ice skates. And you are timed. You can only rent a pair for one session, whatever that is.

Here is what is so disheartening: I just read two news stories. One was about how nearly one in eight Americans is eligible for Food Stamps. Another news article was about how the USA is now the most downwardly mobile of the industrialized nations. In the 1950s we were #1 – the most upwardly mobile nation in the world! Poverty and social stratification in America were given as prime reasons for our country’s decline.

Nice to know City Manager Mike O’Brien is contributing to America’s decline via his new affordable housing policy and, yes, even his ice oval.

One Ice Oval – hold the cops!

By Rosalie Tirella

Drove by the Ice Oval yesterday evening. Not a bunch of folks, maybe around 35/40. What stood out? The blatant Worcester Police presence. Wusta style. Maybe lazy style. That is our finest were not out walking the oval beat. No. This Oval Team had their police cruiser parked right at the edge of the freaking ice Oval!

I mean the cop cruiser was right on the grass, right by the ice skating. I thought, Has there been a shooting already?

But there were no paddy wagons, the way there used to be when the Paris Cinema and its masturbaters were in full bloom.

Then I thought, How sad. The police cruisers will be parked right by the skaters, right at the edge of the ice rink whenever it’s in use. Not very Norman Rockwell picture postcard. Not very Christmas.

Then I thought, Why couldn’t we see this kind of police presence at the old PIP HOMELESS SHELTER a stone’s throw away on Main Street? A cop cruiser parked in the PIP parking lot, or better yet the police substation main south folks had been begging for, would have done wonders for the hood. Really put a crimp in all the heroin dealing and prostitution.

But hey, that police duty is dangerous and work. More fun to commit precious resources to the skaters.