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, $$ charged for spending time in Icky-Town (maybe soon to be Lucky Town, a la the Bruce Springsteen album – but for now Icky Town … .)
At this point, the City of Worcester should BE PAYING kids to come and skate on our Ice Oval – not charging them $$!
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.