Tag Archives: inner-city neighborhood

Thank you, Mayor Petty!

By Rosalie Tirella

Three or so weeks ago I was driving by the Chandler Elementary School playground in Piedmont – watching the little kids scramble all over the colorful little slide and play-scape Worcester Mayor Joe Petty had installed after I called him last winter and told him the kids in Piedmont, an inner-city neighborhood that doesn’t have a lot of green, open space, could use a little something fun in their ‘hood. The playground was all concrete and kinda bleak.

Well, as soon as spring had sprung, not only was a playground installed by the city, but a mini-community garden had sprouted up as well! Such a joy to see the tall sunflowers in their raised flower beds swaying in the summer breeze! In June and July you could see Dads sitting on the new benches installed around the colorful slides and ladders watching their little kids play.

As I drove by the school a few weeks ago and watched the little kids and their parents enjoying the playscape in early, but mild, wintertime, I saw this: A boy, about 12, a few yards away from everyone on the playscape, bouncing a basketball. He was too big for the playscape but HE WANTED TO PLAY! The little kids had no interest in hoop, he had no interest in little twirly slides. He was a solitary little man, nursing big dreams! We all know 12-, 13-, 14- and 15-year- old boys (and girls!) love to play basketball! My kid sister adored the sport and played girls varsity basketball for St. Mary’s High School on Richland Street, grades 9 to 12! My mom never missed her games – home or away! GO, TRINA, GO, TRINA! she’d yell from the bleachers during the games, standing up with the crowd, cheering!

But here, in Piedmont, there was no basketball hoop for this tween to WOOSH his basketball through! No backboard to use as a backdrop for a wanna-be hook shot. No crowd or even a few pals to watch the action, CHEER HIM ON. Where could he dribble his basketball to???!

So there the boy stood, bouncing his basketball on grey concrete in the winter sun during one of our unseasonably mild winter days.

My God!!! I thought to myself, this kid would love a pick up game of hoop with the neighborhood kids! He’s just itching to practice his foul shots! I can tell!

And what boy couldn’t use a good, brisk, get-your-cheeks-ruddy run around his neighborhood school yard!?

So I called Mayor Petty! I have him on mental speed dial cuz he’s so good when it comes to caring about inner-city kids!

Joe! I said, totally in the moment … . We need you!!!!!

I told him what I just told you: I SEE THIS BOY, JUST BOUNCING A BASKETBALL. HE’S TOO BIG TO PLAY ON THE PLAYSCAPE. HE WANTS TO PLAY HOOP! I BET A LOT OF THE OLDER KIDS IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD WANT TO PLAY BASKETBALL, TOO. CAN YOU PUT IN A HOOP FOR THEM?

Petty is Worcester’s QUIET MAN – our John Wayne: understated, modest honorable and honest. He gets things done. THE RIGHT THINGS, with ZERO gabbing, backslapping or phony politician-speak. Refreshing!

Yes, is what he said to me. We’ll work on it.

That’s all!

I knew he’d come through! And drove by the Chandler Street School playground smiling!

Then I drove by once a week to check on the progress. Yesterday I saw this:

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Brandy new!

Shining bright!

A beacon of fun in a tough urban environment! For our city kids!

I’m amazed that Worcester doesn’t throw a parade in honor of Petty. He’s our Tom Menino: he’s got THE VISION FOR A GREAT CITY and SWEATS THE SMALL STUFF, the basketball hoops, the playscapes, the little improvements that make a big difference in neighborhoods – especially the poor and working class.

A thousand tweaks, scores of playgrounds, dozens of murals, one more neighborhood celebration, PLEASE! – this is what gives a city its complex beauty!

Yes, it’s only a basketball hoop.

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But not to the 12-year-old boy bouncing his basketball.

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(Now, maybe some wonderful volunteers can paint in a foul line and/or make all that concrete a mini basketball court?)

Piedmont: Help out TODAY! Be a part of the ‘flash beautification’ at the Common Ground’s Austin/Newbury Street Playground (the ‘Tot Lot’)!

TODAY! SATURDAY MORNING! (May 30)

10 am to noon!

Volunteer to help Park Spirit and Worcester Common Ground Beautify the Tot Lot!

Park Spirit of Worcester Inc., in collaboration with Worcester Common Ground, Inc. will stage a ‘flash beautification’ at the Common Ground’s Austin/Newbury Street Playground (the ‘Tot Lot’) today, from 10 AM to 12 PM.

Volunteers from Park Spirit, the Common Ground, neighbors of the Austin and Newbury Street area and anyone else who would like to help out will work together to beautify the small playground by planting flowers, installing planter boxes, removing trash, and cleaning up remnants from a recent episode of vandalism.

Park Spirit coordinated the first of its signature ‘flash beautifications’ in the spring of 2014 at the ‘pocket park’ on the corner of Shrewsbury and Mulberry Streets. Volunteers staged a flash clean up of the park: cleaning up trash, trimming shrubs, and planting flowers, with the support of the Shrewsbury Street Neighborhood Association, Senator Harriette Chandler, and residents from the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Apartment Buildings. The group was able transform the small derelict space into a colorful and inviting gateway to Worcester’s dynamic Shrewsbury Street neighborhood. In response to this demonstration of care and concern for the small space, the city now maintains the pocket park as part of its maintenance of Washington Square.

The flash beautification at the Austin/Newbury Street Playground will be Park Spirit’s second of this year. In March, volunteers from Park Spirit, the Friends of Newton Hill, Clark University and Assumption College worked together to clear two feet of snow from the basketball court in Newton Square, making it the city’s the first useable outdoor court this spring.

The Austin/Newbury Street Playground is owned by the Worcester Common Ground, which maintains the playground for public use. The Worcester Common Ground is a Community Development Corporation with a mission to promote and develop permanent and sustainable improvement in the neighborhoods of Central Worcester through affordable housing, community activism and economic development.

The Austin/Newbury Street Playground is centrally located to many of the residents that the Common Ground serves and is the only public space of its kind in the neighborhood.

The playground was vandalized earlier this month when portions of the cinder block retaining wall were knocked down and paint was thrown all over the playground.