Tag Archives: parks

An inner-city jewel! Green Island’s Crompton Park!

Lorraine Laurie! Known to all as the “Mayor of Green Island,” Lorraine has worked tirelessly, advocated passionately, for the blue-collar Green Island! FOR DECADES! Thank you, “Sweet Lorraine”! pics:R.T.

By Lorraine Laurie

Crompton Park, the Green Island neighborhood’s jewel, is shining brighter than ever, thanks to major renovations started last year and continuing into this year!

The work on the Canton Street side of the park is made possible by a PARC
(Parkland Acquisitions and Renovation for Communities) state grant for
$400,000 and a City of Worcester match of $750,000. in funds including CDBG
(Community Development Block Grant) monies.

The current renovations complement the 6,500 squarefoot pool that was opened
on July 1, 2011. The ultra- modern complex which cost $2.7 million features a zero depth entry pool,a splash pad for toddlers,a slide, 3 lap lanes, outside showers, security and a family restroom and changing area.

Crompton Park’s new pool, splash pad, water sprays AND SLIDE! are enjoyed by hundreds of neighborhood folks every week!

The Canton Street side of Crompton Park is now more accessible and safer be-
cause of the ongoing renovations. The entrance driveway and parking area have been moved to the left side of the awimming pool complex. A green space, in turn, has been created between the playground and the swimming pool area. The new improvements enhance the modern playground area on the corner of Harding and Canton streets and tie it in more to the nearby pool complex.

A new tennis court has replaced the old
courts and will feature United States Tennis Association “Quick Start”markings for youth development. The “Tenacity” program is already using the court as part of this summer’s activities in the park. Also, the court is adaptable for use as an ice skating venue in the winter. Two handball courts, new to Crompton, have been built near
the corner of Canton Street and Quinsigamond Ave. (in case you wonder what the large wall is!) and have proven to be very popular in other parks such as South Worcester Playground on Cambridge and Camp Streets.

Renovations have kept in mind maintenanceissues so that the improved areas will be much easier to care for and keep in shape.

All these upgrades and additions were many years in the making. Like the saying goes, “Anything worth having is worth waiting for.” Three very well attended public planning sessions were held at the Green Island Neighborhood Center itself located on the Canton Street side of the park in late 2010 and early 2011. A Master Plan for the park based on input from residents and stakeholders was developed by the firm of Weston & Sampson, environmental/infrastructure consultants whose office is located at Harrington Corner in downtown Worcester.

The plan was presented in March 2011. It was approved publically by the Worcester Parks & Recreation Commission on March 31, 2011 and the Worcester City Council on February 28, 2012.

Crompton Park’s basketball court – a neighborhood icon – has been around for decades and drawn thousands of kids (and adults) looking to shoot hoop! Safer and more accessible renovations of this very popular and heavily used basketball court – “Cousy Court”! – are in the works!

What makes this planning session so special is that the master plan isavailable on the City Parks Department web site(www.worcesterma.gov – Parks/Rec/ Cemetery City Parks)!

A grant was submitted to the State but not funded. It was resubmitted the next
year. With the help of State Senator Michael Mooreand State Rep. Daniel Donahue, the PARC grant was successfully obtained; the City committed its match and the bidding process was undertaken.

This feature reporter is especially thrilled about having participated in the Master Plan process as Chairperson of the Green Island Residents Group, Inc.and is excited about the renovations that are taking place. She fondly recalls participating in the
previous Crompton Park Planning Group which met from 1981 – 1983. Thomas
“Tom” W.Taylor was the Parks Commissionerthen and James E.“Jef” Fasser was the parks Department Landscape Architect.

The top priority then was having the Green Island Neighborhood Center move from its rented Millbury Street store front to the old shower house on the Canton Street side of the park. With the help of grant and CDBG money,the deteriorated and vacant building was renovated to the needs of the Center. The building became “home” for the Center on September 27, 1984 and its new address became “50 Canton Street – Crompton Park.”

images (11)
ICT editor Rosalie and her mom, many years ago … they’re relaxing on what used to be known as the little hill at Crompton Park!

Speaking of the Green Island Neighborhood Center, Rochelle Appiah, Site Manager at the Center, says she is “looking forward to the completion, to the City of Worcester, construction team, pavers and builders we all say a big THANK YOU for improving our park.”

The Center is very busy with 30 eager children participating in the summer program. They play soccer on Tuesday and Thursday mornings with Staff from the Worcester Youth Soccer GOALS program. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday its Tenacity program time on the tennis court.

These two programs are open to all children ages 6 -12.

The pool is quite busy from noon to 7 p.m. daily and according to Rochelle “It’s the highlight of the day.“ Rochelle adds “I don’t want to
forget the beautiful WRTA building, sure does make a difference. Every day I look out of my window and say this neighborhood is on the rise!”

What’s in the future for Crompton Park?

When asked what he would like to see
done next from the Master Plan, Assistant Commissioner “Rob” Antonelli named three areas – not in any particular order:

a rubber surface for the playground so it will be softer

safer and more accessible renovations of the very popular and heavily used
basketball court – “Cousy Court”

and renovations to the softball field which alone “will cost $1 million or $2 million.”

Ronald “Ron” Charette, Executive Director of the South Worcester Neighbor hood Improvement Corporation, which runs both the Green Island and South
Worcester Neighborhood Centers sums it all up nicely. He says: “For nearly four
decades, the Green Island Neighborhood Center has enjoyed a great partnership with the Worcester Parks Department, starting with former Commissioner Tom Taylor and continuing with Rob Antonelli. The transformation of Crompton Park, under the leadership of Rob Antonelli, continues to build on this great partnership, making our park a jewel for the entire community.”

At 128 years old, our Green Island “Jewel” shines brighter than ever!

Green Hill Park Revisited


By Edith Morgan

In 1993, when our neighborhood organizations first got together, one of our big concerns was the condition of Green Hill Park. We really did not know very much about it, but since it was so close, and so big, we set about getting better acquainted with it. There was the golf course, of course, and a buffalo pen, lots of woodland, a “farm “ featuring some farm animals – mostly sheep, chickens, and in the spring, piglets – and of course, the llamas. The Air National Guard base was there, still guarding us 50 years after the end of World War II – and two huge water towers dominating the hill overlooking the landfill, where the quarry had been.
The city operated a mulching operation next to the “farm,” where people from all over the city could bring their brush. Skyline Drive was being used as a cut-through between Lincoln and Belmont streets . The city had pretty much let these 500 acres go to seed, and the golf course was basically an inexpensive old timers’ club, a 120-acre grassy expanse on the northeast side of the park.

But in the nineties, a number of events conspired to bring the park to our attention. One of my neighbors found an old paper that detailed the agreement between he city and the Green Family members who had sold this huge property to Worcester in 1905 – at a ridiculously low price!!- with the stipulation that at least 400 acres of it would always be available to the people of Worcester as a park. We were informed that legally the city was no longer bound by that agreement, as it was a requirement that to keep this agreement in force, a letter would have had to be sent to the city after every 50 years to renew this requirement. Unfortunately, the Green family had not renewed the agreement; but we made the MORAL argument that the city still had an obligation to live up to the responsibility it had to preserve this great property for the use of ALL the people. And this is what happened.

Now, nearly 15 years later, the change in Green Hill Park is truly heartwarming: I drove through the park twice recently, to re-acquaint myself with all its features and to enjoy what it now has to offer.

Most noticeable is the fact that there are now so many people using the park! Driving in from Green Hill Parkway, which is one-way from Lincoln Street, we stopped at Memorial Grove, where a young family was blowing soap bubbles for their young child, and watching the rainbow-colored bubbles float out over the hill. We admired the two well-manicured monuments on the left side of the street, and drove down toward the Vietnam War soldiers memorial, with its beautifully landscaped walkways, the pond, and the enormous granite stones aat one end engraved with letters from young soldiers who did not return, and the plaza at the other end, containing the names of all the fallen ones engraved in stone – a memorial visited by many people from many places. It is a site to be visited often, and wonderfully quieting and serene.

Opposite the memorial, the pond offers a great area for picnics, walks, runs, even fishing. Groups of all kinds gather under the roof of the pavilion, now restored and flanked by a plaza with flowers and benches, overlooking the pond.

Further down the road, we come to the newly fenced-in farm and the community gardens, with new buildings (I did not have a chance to go in and see what they contained – that will be for another trip!). Then we come to a new children’s playground, with its own parking lot, and proceed down through a wooded area, and we come upon a new baseball field.

Going on, we come upon the shared facility where now are the offices of the Parks Department. Traveling down the road, past newly painted handball courts, we see on our right, the finally properly capped landfill area, where there are now playing fields shared by the nationally famous Worcester Technical Vocational School, and the people of the city, as this area as still part of the park.

Going down the street, we come to the light at Belmont Street – and we finish our tour of Green Hill Park. We have been very fortunate to have had the support and eternal vigilance of not only the Green Hill Park Coalition, but also of the Worcester City Council.

I am not always certain that the people of Worcester fully appreciate what a great jewel this park is and how very fortunate we are to have it – and that we have so many people willing to watch over its use and to make sure we preserve and enhance it.

FREE SUMMER FUN FOR KIDS! Thanks City of Worcester and friends!




Recreation Worcester is a free program for youth ages 7 through 13.

It includes free, supervised, recreation programming at 10 parks across the City, Monday through Friday from June 27th through August 19th from 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM.

Drop in any time! Come for a few hours, a few days or the whole week.

Parks will be staffed by trained Youth Workers who will facilitate sports, literacy and arts programs.

Programs will be offered at the following sites:

Beaver Brook Park
9 Mann Street

Burncoat Playground
526 Burncoat Street

East Park
180 Shrewsbury Street

Grant Square
21 Northampton Street

Greenwood Park
14 Forsberg Street

Kendrick Field
40 Brooks Street

Lake Park
281 Lake Avenue

Logan Park
539 Mill Street

University Park
965 Main Street

Vernon Hill Park
43 Ames Street


Registration is now available online, or can be filled out at the following Worcester Public Schools:

Belmont, Canterbury, Chandler Magnet, Gates Lane, Goddard, Lincoln Street, Midland Street, Norback, Quinsigamond School, Rice Square, Roosevelt, Tatnuck Magnet, Woodland Academy, Worcester Arts.

Also at the Worcester Public Library’s children desk at any of the One City One Library locations and/or the main library on Salem Street.

You must register before participating in Recreation Worcester.

All Worcester youth are welcome between ages 7 and 13.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Can the child go to any park, or do they have to go to the one in their neighborhood?
A: Yes, they can go to any park.

Q: Can they go to different parks each time, or are they locked in once they choose?
A: They can attend any park.

Q: Will food/snacks be provided?
A: Yes, both lunch and dinner.

Q: What happens if the parent can’t pick up their child on time?
A: All parents must pick their children up by 5:30 PM, however if they are running late they must call the Program Director.

Q: Can children walk to and from the park, or do they need a parent to drop them off/pick them up?
A: Children may walk to and from the park. That is to the discretion of each parent.

Q: Who should we call with questions? Who is Customer Service’s contact person?
A: John Genkos, City Manager’s Office.

Q: How many employees will be at each site?
A: Between 5 and 6 staff at all times.

Q: Is there a cost to the program?
A: No, this is a free program.

Q: Is there a deadline for registration?
A: No, there is a rolling admission.

Q: Do children register once at the beginning of the program? Once for each park? Once per visit?
A: Children are registered only on the first visit to the park and at any park; it’s a universal application for the program.

Q: Will parents be notified if a day is cancelled?
A: The City of Worcester and WPS will notify parents ahead of time of any cancellations via a text or phone call.

Q: Why would a day be cancelled (severe weather/heat)?
A: Programs will be cancelled due to severe weather such as thunder storms, tornado warnings, hurricanes, etc. Emergency shelters will be provided.

from The Mayor’s Office and City of Worcester website

Yummy! Back when ice skating was FREE FOR ALL in Worcester!

The Worcester Historical Museum

30 Elm St., Worcester

for more information, visit www.worcesterhistory.org


From the Worcester Historical Museum:

Ice skating comes to Worcester!

University Park Circa 1920 ( 2007.27.11)
Main South’s University Park, circa 1920

When a wave of enthusiasm for group sports swept America in late 1850s, ice skating became instantly popular.

It was the first recreational activity for both men and women to be promoted commercially and civically, and it was accessible to a broad sector of the population.

The [Worcester] Commission of Public Grounds began allocating funds for preparing lakes and parks to support this “exhilarating and healthy exercise” and also hosted skating parties.

The exhilarating pastime was made possible from December 20th to February 15th, at Worcester’s Elm, Green Hill, North, University, East, Crompton and Greenwood parks, by removing the snow with horses and large scrapers.

Elm Park (1912) OVS
Elm Park, 1912

The surfaces were kept in a smooth condition by using an ice planer throughout the day and sprinkling with water after 9 o’clock pm.

It is a conservative estimate that 108,000 availed themselves of this pleasure. – John H. Hemingway, Report of the Park Commissioners, 1908

Skating parties!

Worcester and surrounding towns hosted many skating parties attended by thousands.

Newspapers announced dates, times, train schedules, and ticket prices.

Train ticket prices varied depending on location, but averaged between 15 and 25 cents round trip.

Extra trains ran as needed.

Crowds included people from all ranks and races.

Vernon Hill Playground - c.1920 (2007.27.9)
Skating at Vernon Hill park, circa 1920
Two trains, numbering twenty one cars were required to convey the party … again was the pleasant sight of all classes, occupations, and colors, uniting heartily in a common recreation.
Daily Spy, February 13, 1858

The skaters had a merry time last night on Salisbury Pond, both sexes were largely represented there. If there had only been a moon, those present wouldn’t have complained if the thermometer had gone from 14 degrees down to zero.
– Daily Spy, December 14, 1859
Worcester businesses noticed the extreme popularity of ice skating and soon tried to capitalize.

Winslow Ad  1877
Winslow ad, 1877

Samuel E. Winslow Ice Skating Company To test the market.

Worcester residents and brothers Seth and Samuel Winslow made 25 pairs of skates as a sideline to their machine jobbing business in 1857. They sold 19.

The next year they sold 2,500 pairs!
After Seth died in 1871, Samuel bought his interests, moved from the Merrifield Building to a new factory on Mulberry Street, added roller skates to the line, and expanded sales to Europe and India.

He incorporated as Samuel Winslow Skate Manufacturing Company in 1886.

By 1889, its 200 employees turned out 1,200 pairs of skates daily — 40 styles of ice skates and 15 styles of roller skates ranging in price from 15 cents to $10.

In 1894, Samuel’s son, “Colonel” Samuel Winslow, took over. At the onset of the Great Depression, but Matthew Manufacturing Company bought it and continued production until 1959.

– R.T.

Worcester’s magnificent Bancroft Tower: come and see!

By Edith Morgan

Is the glass half-full or half-empty? In Worcester,  the “City that Reads,” surely I do not have to explain the literary allusions when I speak of the Pollyannas and the Cassandras.

In the middle of a political campaign, the Cassandras have the floor, as dire predictions and warnings are thought to be more effective than emphasis on achievements. The media salivate at the expectation of bad news and endlesly repeat all kinds of scary tidbits – following their belief that “if it bleeds, it leads.” So, having an oppositional streak, I choose to “accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, and don’t mess with Mr. In-between.”  (How many of you out there remember that song?!)

The Cassandras, for a long time,  outnumbered us optimists in Worcester, always full of criticism and moaning about what is wrong with our city.  But I have noted over the decades that it is rarely the Cassandras who roll up their sleeves and work to improve things. So I am especially pleased that our new city manager is one of the “glass is half full “ group, and upbeat about Worcester’s ability to continue to build, improve, create, and move forward .

A small example: I ran into our city manager on Sunday, October 6, on a beautiful  sunny morning, around 10 a.m., climbing the 81 steps going to the top of Bancroft Tower. It was during the first of four Sunday openings , from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., for the general public to enjoy this unique structure in Salisbury Park, one of Worcester’s 60 parks.

Park Spirit, Inc., under the leadership of  its president, Dorothy Hargrove, with help from Newton Hill founder Rick Miller, and Preservation Worcester, with councilor Moe Bergman acting as one of the docents, spearheaded this effort to bring our attention to another of our unique monuments.

The view from the top is truly breathtaking – the whole city lies at the feet of this fortress-like building – and I was amazed that after more than a century, the building was still intact: the cement between the great stones, the huge granite slabs, the iron spiral staircase up into the turret – all were in perfect shape.

I had to admire the ingenuity and creativity of the builders and the power of whatever equipment was available at that time – to move those great stones up there and place them in their permanent home, for future generations to enjoy.  I overheard many of the visitors reminiscing about their many enjoyable times in the surrounding park, as children. Many visitors brought children and pets, and young and old marveled at the sights.

I do hope that those who did not get a chance to experience this wonder will come one of the remaining October Sundays [10 a.m – 2 p.m. – free!] and clamber up the steps to take in the view.

Thanks to students from Assumption and WPI, who weeded, removed mosses and debris from the open areas at the top, and cleaned them up.  Thanks also to Brittany Legasy for the flyers and the great poster displayed at the entrance. There are many other activities that take place at this site; I am told that after I had left, a wedding party came up to take pictures, and I have in the past participated in a sunrise service.

The more we use this facility, the less vandalism occurs.

Come and see …

Tweaked my Queenie post (below) and found the summer concert pic …

… of Bailey, my big old Nova Scotia Retriever! The pooch the OIF and I used to take to all the great FREE SUMMER CONCERTS  in Worcester’s lovely city parks. Here’s Bailey at Institute Park, enjoying the cool grass, the sweet sounds and sights of nature, being with his “family,”  AND listening to the great American song book!  … Bailey was as big and gorgeous as Queenie! His personality was a lot like hers, too  – serious, loyal … a good working dog.

Here are the websites for some of Worcester’s great concerts – accessible to EVERYONE – man, women, kid, baby, senior citizens, canines, even (I remember seeing one!) ferrets!!! (on a lead, of course!)    – R. Tirella

Click here for free PARK SPIRIT concerts and activities!

Click here for free NEWTON HILL concerts – (by the rotary/Newton Square)!


New report detailing Massachusetts’ return on investment in parks and open space conservation

WHAT: Join us to hear the results of a ground-breaking study prepared by the Trust for Public Land that details and quantifies the connection of land conservation to the Massachusetts economy and jobs, including: natural goods and services, recreation, fishing, hunting, farming, timber, tourism and more. Speakers will include statewide leaders from business, environmental agencies, municipalities and land conservation organizations, including:

* Representative Anne Gobi, Chairwoman, Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture
* Secretary Rick Sullivan, Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs
* Will Manzer, Board Member, Outdoor Industry Association
* Bob Perschel, Executive Director, New England Forestry Foundation

WHEN: 10 -11 am, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013

WHERE: Grand Staircase, State House, Boston

InCity Times’ 12th B-day issue is also our swimsuit issue …

By Rosalie Tirella

… Looking at our paper today made me realize: NO INTRO to our swimsuit spread!

So, here we go …

The swimsuit photos in this issue of ICTimes were taken at Worcester city/state pools and beaches. I, like we do every year, took pics of the real Worcester we all know and love: the multicultural, diverse, young, old, skinny, heavy, lithe Woo gals we see everywhere – women all uniquely beautiful. A few years ago,  a woman in her late 50s was our cover gal. She looked great! Last year, a Latina gal strutted her stuff. This year, several city beauties grace our front cover (in color, off course!).

What I would especially like to add here (and I know I’m off-topic): I took my swimsuit photos during the recent heat wave – when the Woo streets were hot enough to fry an egg on, when my lil’ dog Jett  hung around the window fans panting, when Worcester folks had to WAIT IN LINE TO GET INTO THE STATE POOL TO COOL OFF. During a heat wave!!! When the temp (for 4 or 5 days) was 94 degrees F – and with humidity factored in – close to 96, 97 … AND PEOPLE WAITING IN LINE TO GET INTO THE WATER.

I asked the lifeguard sitting at the front desk at the state pool (it was about 1:30 p.m): Why is this happening? Why aren’t these 50 people in the water? Why are they waiting in a heat wave?  Why are they lined up like this?! There are older people in line, little children, a pregnant woman …

The lifeguard told me the state pool could only accommodate 150 folks, what with the number of lifeguards the pool had.

I said: WHAT? You mean, if no one leaves now, then none of these folks can come in to swim?

She said: That’s right. The number of life guards on duty means that only 150 folks can swim in the pool at one time. She said sometimes people wait for 2 or so hours to come in for a dip or swim.

I felt horrible. First, the city and state pools open noon and 1 p.m. – even during heat waves. Then, when city folks come by, they have to wait and cook in the hot sun for hours before they can enter the pool area. They have to stay OUTSIDE the pool area – it’s the law.

We will not begin to decry the sad state of pool affairs in Woo – how inner-city folks took it in the chin when the city shut down the city’s swimming pools three or so years ago. Only one – the new Crompton Park pool – is open these days. City officials claim that with the Wheels to Water program, and Woo’s two state pools and city beaches that city folks have plenty of aquatic options. Doesn’t look that way. We have a city of more than 180,000 people – many of them poor, without lots of resources. Heat waves can be tough for poorer folks without air conditioners or cars. They NEED our city pools for fun and RELIEF. They NEED to be able to WALK to their neighborhood swimming pools! When I was a little kid growing up in Green Island, my mom didn’t have a car,  so every summer day, late in the afternoon, my sisters and I WALKED to the Crompton Park pool. An easy 10 minute walk. And when we got there? Heaven! Cool, cool water! Kids from my school – Lamartine Street School – doing cannon balls and raising hell. So much fun!

The support the City of Worcester used to give to its immigrant or first generation American families has evaporated. City pools, free music lessons, free swimming lessons at the Girls Club via our public schools, Summer’s World, art and exercise in our public schools … . all cut or cut back, leaving nice families, good kids and their parents cooking in a summer heat wave.

Believe me, the people I talked with outside the pool area during that brutal heat wave were the nicest – too nice! They waited patiently, chatted, joked around. They were so happy to be waiting in LINE to swim!


But it was so humid,  even I  – Rosalie T. – had lost some of my Green Island grit and Mediterranean temper! I took my swimsuit photos and told them all I would be back …

Moving backwards, together

By Rosalie Tirella

So there we sat, the boyfriend and I, in Elm Park. Four years ago, on one of our first dates, we visited this grand ol’ urban oasis –  more excited about each other than the flora and fauna around us. Still, me being me, and “Mario” (he asked that I give him this silly pseudonym) being “Mario,” we began to take a GOOD LOOK at our city park. Mario lead the way, smoking his cigar, still wearing his work pants and tee-shirt. I followed, wearing pretty skirt and sun top. We found: park benches whose slats were missing or busted, huge cannon-ball-sized holes in the pond’s foot bridges (which also desperately needed to be repainted), broken bulbs atop the antiquish street lamps that circled the park’s pond. It was a sorry sight for a park with such a rich history – the oldest city park in America! Continue reading Moving backwards, together