Tag Archives: Millbury Street

Shopping – Green Island style!

By Rosalie Tirella

When I was a little girl growing up in Green Island we were too poor to shop for kids clothing at Kiddy Castle/the Deb Shop, the upscale, beautiful kids/teens clothing shop right next door to the dry cleaners where my mom worked on Millbury Street. Though hidden in Green Island the store drew comfortably middle class families from Worcester’s West Side, not the immediate neighborhood. My mom – a single working mom – worked at the dry cleaners for minimum wage and didn’t have the money to buy the shop’s beautiful, well made children’s clothing and outerwear for her three little girls. The best we could do was enjoy the wonderful window displays that Sam, the owner of the Kiddy Castle (that’s what everyone called his shop), put up every winter, fall, spring and summer. For Christmas: Big, lifelike reindeers with sleigh bell-decorated belts on their backs and plastic flakes for snow sprinkled on their noses. And Santa’s elves (life-sized, too) standing next to them, about to load gaily wrapped Christmas gifts onto a wooden sleigh. Sometimes the elves twisted at the waist or raised an arm to say hello to you! In autumn: Big vinyl orange and red autumn leaves were pressed onto the big display windows. For spring: Pink and yellow plastic flowers bloomed among the pink and yellow Easter dresses the store maniquens wore – slim plexiglass girls painted a soothing beige and about the same height as me and my sisters. The store was a huge cottage with a sign that read DEB SHOP written in cursive on the top half (the Deb Shop was upstairs) and the KIDDY CASTLE sign, written in blocky, primary-colored letters, on the first level (the Castle was on the first floor). A sight to behold! A tease to the neighborhood’s poor kids and parents who walked, ran and trudged by it in all kinds of weather – but never entered, unless they were selling raffle tickets for a school field trip.

After a while the desire to enter this magical place faded for me and I was content to enjoy the creative window displays – just another cool facet of my densely packed, urban neighborhood that I treated like my own personal carnival ride because there were so many adults, kids, small businesses, institutions, dogs, cats, small biz owners, eateries, ideologies and feelings to experience!

Back to shopping! We Green Island families – the families who lived on Lafayette Street, Ellsworth Street, Sigel Street, Lodi Street, Grosvenor Street and Bigelow Street (we lived on Lafayette) – tuned out the Kiddy Castle and set our sights and change purses on the always bustling Mart, a kind of blue collar general store on Worcester’s Main Street, the gateway to the then-dicey Main South neighborhood. My mom shopped at the Mart for all our undies, play clothes and school clothes. For herself she bought: canvas tennis shoes, cotton aprons, bobby pins to curl her hair, cans of aerosol hair spray to hold her curled hair, pots, pans, cans of Ajax, dish towels and big white cotton panties that, when out of their package, looked as if they could hold two 5-pound bags of flour. My mother – about 43 at the time – wasn’t big – today I’d maybe even call her petite – but she wore big underwear. This puzzled me when I was a little girl: little lady, huge bloomers! Today I think Ma did this out of sadness and utilitarianism: Her husband, our father, was MIA AGAIN and we didn’t know when he’d come home again. Forget the sex – and a second paycheck! So Mom’s undies were the opposite of fun and seductive – they were no-nonsense, durable, easy to wear and care for – made of 100% cotton, a material which “breathes” as Ma reminded us, perfect for … working 60 hours a week at the dry cleaners (20 under the table), raising three little girls, cooking dinner, cleaning house and caring for her elderly, feisty, opinionated Polish immigrant mother – our grandmother, “Bapy,” who lived with us. You could’t live my mom’s life in thongs or even colorful bikini bottoms, the fashion back then.

Bapy, at the head of the kitchen table, holding baby Rosalie!

Bapy alone would have sent most women to bloomersville: she lived with us and was another full-time job for Ma. Bapy had to be bathed, her long, gray hair combed out each morning and braided and wrapped in a bun at the back of her head, held in place with bobby pins. She needed her cups of Sanka decaf coffee warmed up in pans of hot water we boiled for her on the stove every few hours. She needed to sit at the head of the kitchen table – the hub of our big three decker tenenent – and pontificate in Polish, with a few choice Polish swear words to underscore a point – my father’s uselessness being the main one. She had opinions on everything and never kept them to herself. She expounded on God, grapes, our aunties, our plumbing, the kitchen table, the beef stew on the kitchen table, the downstairs neighbors, the Gomer Pyle USMC tv show, geraniums, birthday cake, gold fish and my dolls, which she’d dress in her old, smelly knee socks.

Rosalie has owned this doll since she was 1! Bapy used to dress this doll up!

She’d take one of my dolls, often the one I was holding, take one of her socks, cut off the toe end with a pair of small old scissors and make a little crew hat, which she put on my doll’s head. Then she’d slip the doll’s plastic body into the rest of the old sock to make a long tube dress for the doll. Bapy made all my dolls look like mummies! I always watched her work, flattered she took an interest in me, annoyed that my dolls looked dead.

Sometimes Bapy would take one of her long socks and just make a cap for one of my dolls and put the rest of the sock – the tube end – on her arm, from her wrist to her elbow. That was to warm her arthritic bones. Often she layered the arm socks for extra relief. She’d walk around the tenement with both her arms covered in old socks of many hues – browns, navy blue, white, black. Bapy looked like a walking quilt with her decorated arms, flowered flannel night gown, flowered apron over the flowered night gown, three pairs of knit booties on her old feet … She smelled … fecund.

Bapy baby-sat us when our mother was working at the dry cleaners we’d tell everyone, but actually it was the other way around, with we kids heating her coffee on the stove and getting her the hardboiled egg sandwiches that she munched on from dawn to dusk.

In short, my mother’s life (and ours) was more Army Surplus than Victoria’s Secret, and Ma dressed appropriately for her tasks.

We never owned a car when I was growing up, so we walked pretty much everywhere – my mother, two kid sisters and I. We walked to the Mart often – a fun excursion for us that we’d cap off with a stop at Woolworth’s on Front Street – specifically the luncheonette section – hamburgers, french fries and Cokes for us kids, a cheese Western omelette and regular cup of coffee for Ma. While at the Mart, my mom would buy her wretched panties, my kids sisters and I would run off to the toy section where I always picked up the little package of REAL SEA MONKEYS to give to my mother so she could buy them for me. On the package there was an illustration of a happy cute Sea Monkey family sitting on their sofa watching TV. My mom would take one look at the package, frown and wave me off with: “They’re slimey!”

My favorite part of the walk to the Mart – just before you reached its front doors was the entrance to the Aurora Hotel, a flop house where various and sundry alcoholics and Worcester chatacters lived. The glossy granite entranceway always seemed so elegant to me! There, etched onto one of the smooth granite pillars that framed the entranceway to the flophouse, in exquisite deatail, floated “the mermaid lady” – a slender, lovely lady with long tresses and dressed in a long flowing toga. She was as tall as me and seemed to come straight out of my school book on Greek gods and goddesses. I never called her Aurora, after the hotel, or even tried to name her despite my family’s frequent walk-bys. The mermaid lady seemed too cold and distant for naming, her face turned to one side, in profile, as if always looking away from the gritty, gray, working class downtown she found herself floating in.

My mother bought our “slacks,” as she called them, socks, undies, shirts and short sets at the Mart. She never bought their kids shoes. She believed in good, quality sturdy leather kids shoes for her girls so we would not walk “pigeon toed” and our “arches didn’t drop.” This was all mysterious science to my kid sisters and me – ages 7 and 8 1/2 years old – but Ma must have done something right cuz I’ve logged thousands of miles on my footsies and to this day I have high arches that look ballerina-dancer cool when pointed!

Rosalie’s foot – 4/9/2016

So it was off to Lisbon’s Shoe Store on Millbury Street – just 10 or so stores down from the dry cleaners where my mom worked – to see Mr. Lisbon. Like many of the small business that lined Millbury Street years ago the owners usually “waited on” their customers. They were at their shops, very hands on. You got to know them and their families in a peripheral way. If you went to White’s Five and Ten down the street Mr. White was running the store and ringing out customers on their big beige cash register. Mrs. White, tall and elegant in her knock off Channel suits and high, sculpted jet-black bouffant and black high heels – her natural tallness and accessorizing made her about 6 feet tall! – neatened up the housecoat and cotton vests section. If you went to Commercial Fruit, a few stores down, the owners and later their kids, were the ones who bagged your produce and weighed it on their big porcelain scales. The tailor’s shop, also on Millbury Street, a few stores down from the drycleaners, was always home to the tailor and his 25 canaries who kept him company in a big cage that he kept on a stand by his sewing machine. They were in complete, stifling darkness except for the little goose neck lamp that shone on the clothes the little tailor was mending. When my mom and I visited I ran straight to his yellow and orange canaries, my heart swelling with love. I always hoped the little tailor would give me a bird to take home and keep near our sunny kitchen window. He never did.

Mr. Lisbon, the shoe store owner, was always so nice to my mom and my two kid sisters and me. He always made me and my sisters stand up and put our stockinged feet on his foot measuring machine and then he’d slide the measuring stick to get your exact perfect shoe size. He would put your shoes on, lace them up and have you walk around the store to get the feel of them, all the while explaining things to our mother, who listened carefully and nodded her head. She’d buy our no-nonsense shoes and make us put them on to walk home in.

We’d walk down Millbury Street, tired but content – we loved each other, we were together. At the corner of Millbury and Lafayette streets stood McGovern’s Package store. We kids knew before we took that right onto Lafayette Street Ma would go into McGoverns and buy each of us a little bag of salted cashews – a treat! I’d want to eat my little bag of cashews during the walk home but Ma always insisted that I wait until we got home. She was always right: It was more fun eating my cashews with my kid sisters and telling Bapy in broken Polish all about our shopping trip to Millbury Street!

Riding down Endicott Street, into Millbury Street …

By Rosalie Tirella

… yesterday I saw this:


And this:


Across the way there was litter and garbage strewn all over the sidewalk, but I didn’t take a pic because there was a woman sitting on the front steps of the building practically in the middle of the trash heap … talking on her cell phone. As if this were all NORMAL, this flow of filth and refuse. As if it was OK to sit in the middle of garbage, chatting away while the maggots chomped on last night’s dinner… Families with strollers, with BABIES! in them, walk by garbage heaps outside the Millbury Street restaurant as if nothing could be more natural, pedestrian. Poor pedestrians! Poor babies with their tender immune systems!

Something is amiss here, Worcester. Something is more than amiss … Something has died, here, in the hood … Inner-city RENTERS used to care about the apartments they rented, the yards they had, the front stoops they sat on. No, they weren’t homeowners, but they felt responsible for their digs – and didn’t want their environs a shit hole and public health hazard. Yes, doors got busted in, fires were started, families didn’t have the best or even much furniture, but people lived in ok apartments with ok stuff. I saw many such flats as a youngster! When I was a kid growing up on these same streets I visited my friends’ houses for snacks, to hang out, to chat with their moms – apartments my Lamartine Street School pals’ parents rented on Lafayette, Lodi, Siegel, Grosvenor, Lunel, Scott streets, and they were clean and normal-looking Green Island flats. Poor but no garbage choking front stairs, no pizza boxes piled to the heavens …You got the feeling that this was their home. NEVER DID I FEEL LIKE I WAS WALKING THROUGH AN INNER CITY LANDFILL or visiting people in unsanitary places.

The City of Worcester has been doing the work. A DPW crew CLEANS THE CRAP UP when you call them to report the garbage. But within two or three hours, more shit is dumped in the exact same spot! Video cameras are installed. Video cameras are ripped down. Now I’m hearing the city doesn’t own too many video cameras – Worcester needs to buy more video cameras. People are fined $200 for being hogs!!! And yet their refuse keeps flowing.

We have a problem Worcester. It’s got to be WORKED.

Stop the violence that is tearing up Worcester! SOS! Save Our Streets!!


Save Our Streets

City Hall Common

July 26

5 pm

Peace Rally and March

Please come join us in a peaceful gathering to build community and start a movement of non-violence in this city.

The violence touches everyone but ESPECIALLY the mothers, and fathers, and other family members who have to bury children.

Come out and support one another.

Come out and support a community that so desperately needs peace.

There will be marches beginning in various locations to converge on City Hall Common at 5 pm.

We will hear from family members and have a balloon letting to honor those killed on ALL sides of this tragedy.


Worcester City Councilor Konnie Lukes’ slummy back porches

I was driving around Crompton Park a few days ago when I stopped at a red light and was able to take a good long look at Worcester City Councilor Konstantina (aka Konnie) Lukes’ Millbury Street property – specifically the back porches of the three decker. Pathetic.



I went out with a contractor for several years who knew all about buildings and building codes. I learned that little kids and babies are important, and they can fall off a poorly constructed three decker back or front porch. One IMPORTANT construction reg: the railings on your back porches should be sturdy – not made of shit wood – and they should be be spaced so many inches apart SO THAT A BABY OR LITTLE KID CAN’T STICK HER HEAD THROUGH THE SPACE OR HER BODY THROUGH THE GAP AND FALL TO HER DEATH. There are building code regs, LAWS, that address this. A construction worker would be doing his job illegally if he/she failed to build the porches correctly, make them “up to code.” It goes beyond doing a “Mickey Mouse” job.

Look at Worcester City Councilor Konnie Lukes’ back porches: See the huge spaces between the cheapo sticks of wood? Dangerous and illegal.

Where is the City of Worcester Building Code Department?

Is everyone asleep at the wheel on Meade Street? ! Or are they just looking the other way because Lukes is a city councilor? Is it OK to slap some particle board across the mess on the third floor and call it a day?

The Lukes must have known they were endangering little kids’ lives because they slapped big, ugly brown particle board planks ACROSS the railings to reinforce things. Make the back porches “safe.” What a joke. You’ve still got ugly, ugly unsafe back porches. I’d like to meet their “licensed” contractor – ha ha.

THANK YOU, Worcester City Councilor Konstantina Lukes for stooping so low! Your HYPOCRITICAL, slumlord heart knows no boundaries as you talk the talk about making Worcester a world-class city and then pull THIS SHIT in our urban neighborhoods.

I will be down to Meade Street, this afternoon, with these photos, Konnie.

– Rosalie Tirella



Hooray for Woo city councilors Phil and Sarai and the WTI’s Peggy!

… Green Island shouldn’t look this stark! The great people of Green Island deserve more! Folks are gonna make it happen for GI this time!

pics: Green Island’s concrete jungle (Lamartine and Harding streets) and Woo City Councilor Phil Palmieri on Lamartine Street.


In the eyes of the beholder …

By Rosalie Tirella

What do I especially find heartbreaking about wintertime in Worcester? Seeing parents, usually moms, pushing a baby carriage down an inner city street, the baby stroller covered in a plastic wrap, zipped up, snug as a bug. Yup. They make plastic coverings for baby strollers. A tool for poor parents to buy so that as they make their way through the city landscape, with their little kids or babies in tow, usually up Chandler Street, or around Main South, the little one is protected from the cold.

Growing up in Green Island years ago, I was one of those little kids, but a bit older, maybe six or seven. My mom was raising us alone. She was poor. We never had a car. We walked every where. Even in the dead of winter, even after or sometimes during a snow storm. Funny, but if you have a great mother and are well fed and bundled up against the elements, you survive it all. You even have fun.

After a heavy snow fall in Green Island … I remember … I am a little kid walking in the big tire treads in the snow, on Lafayette Street, as my mom pulled her shopping wagon full of groceries. She is in the street too because there is about three feet of snow pushed onto the sidewalks. There was a huge snowstorm the day before. We are walking against traffic, since Lafayette Street is one-way and we are going down it the opposite way to go home. Every time a car slowly approaches us, we stop walking and push closer to the sidewalk, stepping into a ton of snow. We stand engulfed in the beautiful fluffy white stuff until the car passes. Then we go back into the street. She has just gotten out of work at the dry cleaners and had gone grocery shopping at Supreme Market on Millbury Street. My sisters are following behind her, too. I feel safe even though we are walking in the street. A slippery street covered in snow that has been churned brown from all the cars and sand and salt. I feel playful even though if you drove by our raggedy little caravan you would have thought to yourself: Look at this pathetic sight. A woman all alone in the dark night of winter, up to her ankles is snow, in the middle of Lafayette Street followed by her three little kids. Lugging food in a rickety shopping cart.

But we kids didn’t see it that way at all. We were playing follow Mommy! Stay in the tire treads and woosh, let’s slide and skid all the way home on Lafayette Street, named after the great French general who helped us during the Revolutionary War my mom used to tell us. I have no idea if my mother got the war right (was it the French Revolution?), but she did make us kids feel we were living on a very special street! I am running and sliding and getting all silly with my sisters. I keep thinking of the little bag of cashews my mom bought me at McGoverns Package store, cashews, my fave treat. . Each Friday, after Ma got paid and we went grocery shopping, she would cap off the night with a trip to McGoverns for treats for her girls and a flask of Muskatel for my grandfather from Poland. A bag of cashews for me. A bag of pistachios for each if mt sisters.

After the walk in the snow, cashews! Still my favorite winter treat.

Poverty is weird trip. Brutal, but if you are with people you love, like my fantastic mother, who died this summer at a ripe old 85, it can be soul expanding. It can feed your soul on the coldest of days. It can provide you with a moral code that never leaves you. And gift you the most precious winter memories.

We’ll always have hamburgers

By Rosalie Tirella

Just texted a friend. Told her: “At The Broadway. Just had one-hour talk with my fave waitress. My age. Talked of love, men, death … home improvement. Woo at its finest.”

She texted back, some what cynically: “Any bistro chat”

I texted backa the photo I just took of the tuna on bulkie roll sandwich I was savoring and then wrote: “Nope. We talked of our late moms, our friendship with them. Just excellent. B-way waitress is very smart and wise. We woulda been best buds in college. Just exquisite … ”

She texted back: “Still time”

I texted:”No. We have separate lives. But that’s ok. We’ll always have The Broadway.”

Yes. I will always have The Broadway. A comforing thought, like knowing the sun will always come up tomorrow, or puppies will always be soft and smell … so new-born. As editor and owner of InCity Times, I realize things change. That my old Green Island neighborhood has been “revitalized” and rechristened. It is now called the Canal District. Where once was Charlie’s Surplus – the wild and topsy turvy extras/seconds warehouse on Water Street, the place where my sisters and I got our gym socks for school – there are now bars catering to the college crowd. Gone are Water Street’s ethnic markets and the old Lederman’s Bakery. To make way for more kid bars. But hey, that’s OK. I am resigned to reality. My old ‘hood rich weith immigrant history has become a watering hole for Clarkies and Holy Cross kids and anyone else young who is looking to tie one over. Heck, this issue we are running a story on the Canal District. How it is up and coming and has its own festival – Canal Fest – coming up soon.

But my final text message to my pal said it all: “Have been going to The Broadway since I was 10 years old. Iconic. To me. ICONIC. For me. Go there once a week … for the food but more important for the way it makes me feel.”

And so it can it be said for any great love in your life. You go to him or her because she/he … makes you feel most yourself … you have a shared history … you know each other’s likes/dislikes. You have a kind of emotional shorthand.

So when the tuna salad on bulkie roll is served up, I remember … The old Broadway that my late mom used to take me and my two kid sisters to – on Sundays after Mass. For hamburgers, french fires and hot fudge sundaes. She would have a Western Omlette and coffee. Upon entering the Broadway, which was where it is today – Water Street – you were greeted by the owner, Sam who always wore a suit coat and was very serious and respectful of you as you entered. Always the polite greeting from Sam, every Sunday. The host with the most. And the place was always packed from people all over the city! Young people, old people, kids … .What a treat to enter that hallowed space, where you could sit and think about what the priest told you 20 minutes ago while inhaling the aroma of burgers sizzling on the Broadway grill, fries being dipped in vats of bubbling oil, buttered warm bulkies … . No one thought twice about cholesterol or hardening arteries back then. More onion rings, please!

There they were the famous Broadway restaurant/diner booths: BIG and RED and vinyl. As a little kid, you could sit in them and just lose your self in all that cush. You had to kneel on the seat and crane your neck if you wanted to see a person who was sitting behind you or take a look out over your meal. And all around, on all the walls of the place was … the menu! Different specials written in black magic marker. In cursive penmanship. One menu item per 9 inch by 13 inch piece of white poster board: hamburger with onion rings. Cheeseburger and fries. Pineapple sundae. There it all was. Kid heaven spelled out with a flourish … penmanship that you hoped to emulate in penmanship class back at Lamartine Street School. You used to get a grade for handwriting back then. I always got Bs. Deserved Cs – my natural tendency was/is to write like an old man afflicted with arthritis.

Great Sunday breakfasts with mom, who was always very serious and respectful of everyone. Until she smiled. Then the room lit up because she had such a gorgeous smile – perfect teeth. Without any help from an orthodontist. My no account father used to say to us: I married her for her teeth! What could little kids say to that, except: OK, Daddy.

It’s a few years later. My sisters and I are in our early teens. And I am going to the Broadway with my kid sister “Mary” after school – me Providence Street Junior High, she St. Mary’s Junior High. It is winter out. We are sorta latch key kids. My dad is gone. he will be back eventually. We just don’t know when. It could be a month or two or maybe a year or two. We had given up trying to predict his peripatetic journey. He was like a strange, distant planet, orbiting my mom and us kids.

Anyways, my kid sister is about 13. She is wearing a long, maxi coat and hat. Her coat is grey and I htink quite pretty. She has a scarf on and knit hat. She is a jock. Loves to run and play basketball. She is so skinny! Yet today, she has worked up a Broadway appetite and we will have burgers and fries. And cokes, my sister’s favorite drink.

We do not think of the other kids who are having sit down dinners with their families in other neighborhoods. All we know is mom is working at the cleaners and she gets out at 6 p.m. and is too tired to make dinner when she gets home. Most of the time she does, but today is when we hit the streets of Green Island in search of food. Sometimes it’s a visit to Pete’s Dairy Bar on Millbury Street. Pete’s has good hamburgers and 3 or 4 pinball machines. Sometimes its Messiers Diner on Millbury Street. Their burgers aren’t as good as the Broadway’s but they have cool booths near big windows from which you can watch all the Millbury Street pedestrians.

I remember how one time, after church, it was the evening. My mom had no car and she took us to this hamburger Italian place on Millbury Street – owned by and run by bikers. Well! What a sight! All the bikers and their chicks in leather and head bands … and here comes Mrs. Tirella with her three girls, dressed for church. My mom’s black hair is in atight curly perm. My sisters and I are wearing are Easter dresses. We all ordered hamburgers and french fries. The food was OK, the biker chick served it to us on paper plates with plastick utensils. But what I especially remember is how warm and friendly that group of folks was to me and my mom and my kid sisters. They were all smiles and talked with my mom and so … attentive.

We left that joint feeling like queen (my mom) and princesses.

Then we would walk down Millbury Street, hit Lafayette and walk home, our bellies full. We were twice blessed at church by the priest and the burger joint by the bikers.

Now, the Canal District is something better, I guess. Something “classy.” Back in the day, my mom and my sisters and the Canal District (we called it Green Island back then) restaurants and their staff were all pretty rough hewn. None of us college graduates or students. My mom remembers the live chickens and rabbits that were sold on water Street’s outdoor markets. She even remmebers a little monkey who danced for pennies.

I dare the Canal Distrcit denizens to to top those great memories. Dare ya!

Green Island’s Millbury Street gets a much needed make-over

By Maureen Schwab

Millbury Street, the heart of Green Island, is getting a much needed make over that some, but not all, are happy about. The improvements made to Crompton Park last fall however, appear to be making everyone, especially the neighborhood children, happy; the new playground has been a huge success!

Construction on the six million dollar streetscape improvement project, managed by The Massachusetts Department of Transportation, (Mass DOT) began in autumn 2010, and is expected to be completed within the next few months. Improvements along Millbury Street include resurfacing and widening of the sidewalks with upgraded material, instillation of street furniture which will include benches, bike racks and waste receptacles. Handicap crossings will be installed on all corners, as well as water elements representing the Blackstone Canal, signage, plantings, trees, decorative street lighting and a bike path. What you will not see is two way traffic.

It’s been over 50 years since Millbury Street was once a two way street. Those were the days before Interstate 290, multiple car households and long commutes to work. Two way traffic probably worked because there simply were less drivers and less competition for parking spaces. Several Millbury St. businessmen have been promoting a two way traffic pattern for several years because they truly feel that it will promote business on a street that is a mix of business and residence. With the current construction underway, it was felt this would be the right time to make the necessary changes to the sidewalks and street. Residents who are strongly opposed are concerned about the potential loss of parking spaces and the safety hazards two way traffic will create.

The City Council Traffic and Parking Committee voted on April 25 to keep the current one way traffic pattern. There are several important reasons for this decision, first and foremost in my mind; the current improvement project includes a five foot wide bike path which would be eliminated if the street were to be made two ways. In addition, the redesign and construction would mean that the city might have to pay back the federal stimulus money it received to do the project in the first place!

The bike path, which is supposed to be part of the Blackstone River way bike trail, was originally supposed to be located on Quinsigamond Ave, Lamartine St , Francis Mc Grath Blvd. and end at Union Station. The current proposed route takes you down Millbury St. right into Kelley Square then to Union Station. I can’t think of anything more frightening than riding a bicycle through Kelley Square; I can barely make it through the traffic in my car most days!

Mass DOT is in the design phase of Gateway 1, an estimated five million dollar projet for the purpose of reconstructing Quinsigamond Ave. from Brosnihan Square to Southbridge St. The reconstruction is intended to improve access to downtown and provide a more aesthetically pleasing travel corridor. Approximately 1 year ago,. Mass Highway and the WRTA were considering moving operations to Quinsigamongd Ave, no information regarding either projet is currently available. Putting the bike path on Quinsigamong Ave, as originally planned is a safer decision which should still be considered. Keeping the streets that surround Crompton Park as environmentally friendly and compatible with the park design are important quality of life issue residents are entitled to.

While business’ struggle on Millbury Street, the new playground at Crompton Park has plenty of customers. It is wonderful to see children play while attentive parents look on. There are still problems with broken bottles and trash all around the park, but I am hopeful that people who use the park will make an effort to keep the park clean so it remains a good and safe place for children play.
I have noticed an increase number of people who walk with their dogs around the park. In a perfect world, Green Island will have a dog park in the near future. Pet ownership can lead to a happier, healthier life, and Green Island has some wonderful places where one can walk with their dog.

Green Island is a neighborhood populated by people who are for the most part poor and transient. It is important that those of us who live here protect our park, and in doing so, our environmental health.

Green Island update

By Maureen Schwab

On Sept. 15, Green Island residents woke to a steady rain that at first seemed like nothing out of the ordinary. On that morning, neighborhood children waited for and boarded school buses at the usual times and places, and were safely transported to school. Shortly thereafter, the intensity of the rain increased and as it did, so did the level of rain water flowing in the streets of Green Island.

At the height of the storm, water at the corner of Canton St. and Quinsigamond Ave was approximately 3ft high, and Crompton Park was submerged under at least 1 ft. of water and raw sewage. The community center, located in Crompton Park sustained damages to goods and property which later had to be discarded. . A friend who lives on Scott St. told me that a car in her driveway was completely submerged b, and the first floor apartment had flooded. Fortunately, the rain stopped and the sun came out by noon. Yes, there was property damage, but no one was hurt and the children returned home safely from school if nothing had ever happened.

The week end before this disaster hit Green Island; I was strolling through Canal Fest. The centerpiece of the event was a recreation of the Blackstone Canal on Harding St, upon which one could take a canoe ride. As I watched the rain flood Quinsigamond Ave that Thursday, I could not help but to think back to Canal Fest. Though inappropriate to be thinking so at the time; I thought how wonderful it would be to have water flowing through Worcester, and that here (Green Island) is where the water is, and was and always will be. The neighborhood is situated above the point where two of Worcester’s largest waterways the Mill Brook (now contained within a man made structure) and the Middle River meet (in the vicinity of Brownian Square). When the rain is heavy, although buried beneath concrete and asphalt, the waterways will act like rivers.

Peter Tsigas, owner of Café Neo, 97 Millbury St, organized a meeting for residents and business owners to voice concerns and to hear from City officials regarding plans to help solve flooding problems in Green Island. The solution is neither easy nor inexpensive. City Manager M. O’Brien and Public Works Commissioner Robert L. Moylan plan to hold a community meeting in the future to discuss steps the city is taking to help alleviate future flooding.

The section of Crompton Park, at the corner of Canton and Harding that will be the site of the new playground was less affected than the community center. Several days after the flood, a bulldozer appeared to begin work on the playground project. It was upsetting to suddenly see the side of the hill that has been there for over a century torn apart to make way for the playground.

Robert Antonelli , Assistant Commissioner of the Park and Rec Dept., explained that the design of the playground includes adding structure and dimension to the otherwise flat hill , giving children added grassy areas to play on. Soon, we can look forward to three play structures an expanded swing area, and sturdy new fencing surrounding the area for safety. The project may be finished as soon as late fall, but a grand opening will be held no earlier than Spring of 2012.

We can also look forward to a wonderful bikeway. According to documents found on the Ma Dept. of Transpiration web site, Green Island will be the site of Segment 7 of the Blackstone River Bikeway, a 48 mile paved trail that connects Providence R.I. and Worcester.
Construction is expected to begin Winter 2013-14. The proposed path is along Quinsigamond Ave to Union Station, a distance of 2.6 miles. In addition, there are plans to make the bikeway a designated section of the East Coast Greenway, a 2,900 mile trail system that connects cities from Maine to Florida.

National Park status for parts of the Blackstone Valley, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution , is being promoted and supported by Congressman McGovern, State Senator Michael Moore and several city council members. Which parts of Worcester would be considered is yet unclear, but property on Harding Street, site of the Blackstone Canal and Quinsigamond Ave, part of the Mill Brook should be included.

Green Island has a gritty, hard boiled history made up of factories, immigrants, scoundrels and thieves, three deckers and several generations of men and women who worked extremely hard not only to survive, but for their children to succeed. It is very much a part of the Industrial Revolution history and story and should be included.

Green Island is ready to take on an important and improved new status if a National Park, a beautiful bikeway and ongoing improvements to the neighborhood continue. The quality of life for residents will improve as the neighborhood develops its historical and recreational features.

In June of 2011, The Main South Community Development Corp was awarded $600,000. Which will be used to develop brownfields into housing on Grand St? A small piece of property on Quinsigamond Ave, owned by NSTAR, also a brownfield , is property that can someday be part of a national park, or at least a segment of a beautiful bikeway.

This land has been chosen (without neighborhood discussion, input or consent) to be the home of the Worcester Regional Transit Authority (WRTA) operations and maintenance facility , with the full support of our city officials. Also on Quinsigamond Ave, The Department of Transportation plans to move a storage facility to this location. Plans for both projects are still pending the purchase of the land and other factors.

Why is Green Island being considered for these pollution producing projects with the approval of City Hall when we stand a chance to become a part of a National Park? We lost our Community Development Corporation and with that we lost any voice that would argue for environmental and social betterment in this neighborhood. Our neighborhood leadership, what there is of it, does not take Green Island’s historical importance seriously and prefers to think that all of the improvement should to be economic.

The Canal District, of which Green Island is a part, is much, much more than the area above Kelley Sq. The real history and yes; THE WATER is right down here in Section Two, Green Island. I sincerely hope people reading this article will respond and join in efforts to bring bike paths, national parks ,fresh air and a new sense of pride to Green Island.

But of more importance: Bank of America is abandoning Green Island!

By Rosalie Tirella

I just got a call from a Green Island pal. The bad news: Bank of America is closing their Millbury Street (read: inner-city) branch soon.

This is killer (as in horrific) news! There are so few banks who want to make a commitment to the inner city, so few banks who want to come into poor neighborhoods and do business. They don’t see the profit in setting up shop in a place where, for the most part, they will be cashing social security checks/DET checks for poor people in the beginning of each month. Plus, it’s a bit more dangerous (robberies, etc).

STILL the residents of Green Island have always prided themselves on being able to retain a legit BANK – a real honest to goodness bank and not some check-cashing/loan sharking business, which is what you usually find in the inner-city/poorer neighborhoods. When I was a little girl growing up in Green Island my mom did her banking at the same spot – it was Mechanics Bank then. The people were always so nice and polite to her – and to us kids.

When there was a gap years later, my mom had to cash a check at Golemo’s just down the street (on Millbury St.) – a son of a bitch loan sharker/exploiter of poor people – who cheated hundreds of people of hundreds of thousands of dollars and who was at the end of a police search. He flew the coop, ended up on the lam and was finally – just recently after many years – arrested. I remember Golemo, the evil pig, cashed my mom’s check for her – and took a 1/4 of her money (from the check). I saw this and somehow you never ever forget something like this as a kid. The obvious evil – the out and out wrong doing. Taking my mom’s money – stealing it.

We don’t want this to happen again in Green Island! It happens in Main South, it happens in Piedmont and it happens in downtown – right across the street from the Hanover Theatre. The pawn shop across from the Hanover does the exact same thing – cashes the checks of poor people who have no bank accounts (day laborers, people on the brink of homelessness) – and charges them exhorbitant fees. Which ultimately pushes poor people into actual homelessness – or some other tragedy. Pigs. Every check cashing joint – pigs. Every one of them.

Please, Bank of America, STAY on Millbury Street! Please don’t abandon Green Island. All the folks of Green Island depend on you to do their banking business – in a fair, professional manner! Don’t feed us to to the sharks – the loan sharks …