Tag Archives: Steve Teasdale

Main South! Always in style! … Oct. 13 – tomorrow! – opening of new Kilby-Gardner-Hammond Athletic Field and Track!

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This lovely duplex is just one example of the the glorious Gardner-Kilby-Hammond urban renewal project! pic: Ron O’Clair

Boys & Girls Club kids will inaugurate field with soccer ‘kickoff’!

The Main South Community Development Corporation, the Boys & Girls Club of Worcester and Clark University will celebrate the completion of a new field and track with a dedication beginning at 3:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 13, at 65 Tainter St.

Opening the new field marks the culmination of the Kilby-Gardner-Hammond project, begun in the late 1990s. The project so far comprises more than 100 new housing units, the $9.2 million Boys & Girls Club, and the new, $3 million field and track. This facility will be used by Clark University for intercollegiate, club, intramural, and recreation sports. It will also be shared with the Boys and Girls Club, giving the young people there an essential outdoor play space.

Congressman Jim McGovern will join the ceremonies on Thursday, along with Stephen Teasdale, Executive Director of the Main South CDC; David Angel, President of Clark University; and Liz Hamilton, Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Worcester.

“This new field and track will expand access to green spaces for local families and give kids new opportunities for outdoor recreation and positive afterschool activities,” Congressman McGovern said. “The successful completion of this project is another strong step toward a rejuvenated Main South. I was proud to help bring federal dollars back to our district to invest in the bike path around the track and I am grateful to work with such great partners in the City, Clark University, the Boys and Girls Club and the Main South Community Development Corporation to help us revitalize this neighborhood. Together we are building a strong and vibrant community for all of our families.”

“This field represents just the latest in a long history of successful partnering between Clark and our neighbors in Main South,” President Angel said. “The investments of our community along with city, state and federal agencies, private investment and development firms have resulted in a successful revitalization project sure to benefit all.”

“We’re thrilled to cut the ribbon and officially help Clark University open their new collegiate field, located next to our Harrington Clubhouse,” writes Hamilton. “This field will create opportunities for our kids we’ve never been able to provide in the past. We’re extremely appreciative of Clark for allowing our Club to utilize the field to offer sports such as snow-shoeing, lacrosse, track, and flag football.”

After officials finish their remarks, they plan to toss and kick soccer balls onto the new field for the club kids to “kick off” the new playing field.

The field and track project is another in a series of collaborations between the Main South CDC, the city, federal and state government and Clark University to revitalize Main South.

Steve Teasdale of the Main South Community Development Corporation receives award!

By Jeffrey Li

This past summer, Steve Teasdale, executive director of the Main South CDC,  received a very prestigious award: the “Excellence in Community Development Award,” from the Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation (MHIC). MHIC presented the Main South CDC with this award for its vision that the Main South community could again become an attractive, healthy and desirable place to live, its commitment over 25 years to assembling the people, the institutions and the resources necessary to realize this vision, and its impact in creating an inclusive, revitalized community, with attractive homes, safer streets and engaged citizens. The award is also for J. Stephen Teasdale’s extraordinary leadership of Main South CDC since 1988.

The Main South CDC is a non-profit organization that was born in 1986 to address the Main South neighborhood residents’ concerns about the evident decline in the neighborhood and the increasing shortage of affordable housing. Main South is a diverse neighborhood in the Main Street area, the heart of  Worcester, which has struggled for many years to regain its footing after a precipitous post-industrial decline and major demographic changes.

With the help of state and federal funding and private equity and the cooperation of Worcester government, Clark University and other local communities, the Main South CDC has acquired, rehabilitated or constructed more than 300 units of housing in the neighborhood over the last 27 years.

Their housing development programs have not only physically transferred sections of Main South but also provided much needed safe, well managed affordable housing for the neighborhood residents.

Proud of what they have achieved, Stephen Teasdale and his team are determined to do more for the neighborhood, even though they have already initialized many programs to help the local society beyond housing, such as computer classes, resume assistance, VITA program for tax returns, and summer youth employment programs, just to name a few. Learned from their decades of housing developing experience, they have realized that rebuilding the physical environment itself is not enough for community revitalization and they need to get more involved in helping the neighborhood residents than just the housing.
“The mission of the Main South CDC is the revitalization of the Main South neighborhood and to create economic opportunity for its low-to-moderate income residents,” said Stephen Teasdale. “The Main South CDC is much more than just a housing development agency. As a non-profit group, we have developed quite a lot of housing but the idea was to discuss the sort of broader role of the Main South CDC has in Main South community with a particular focus on the sort of efforts to create collaborative partnerships these days, particularly look into the importance of providing educational opportunity for the youth of this neighborhood that has struggled in the past to achieve the academic standards.”

To learn more about the Main South CDC, please visit their website: http://www.mainsouthcdc.org/

 

Good news: The problems facing the Main South CDC are troublesome but not fatal

By Barbara Haller, Main South Community Development Corporation Board member, former District 4 City Councilor and Main South resident

The Main South CDC continues to work on strengthening its neighborhood in many rich and exciting ways.  The MSCDC continues to manage a large portfolio of affordable and livable apartments and to support home ownership.  The MSCDC is part of a growing community collaborative to improve educational outcomes of its children.   In short:  the Main South CDC is alive and kicking.

Bad News: The public altercation between the Main South’s CDC executive director Steve Teasdale and board member Billy Breault  was regretful.  If I could turn the clock back and make it not happen I surely would.

Steve has led the organization from the beginning. While progress in Main South has been all about teamwork,  you would be heardpressed to find anyone who would deny that Steve – his dedication, intelligence, talent and controlled ego – is the leader of the pack that made it all happen.

Billy has been the voice of public safety and neighborhood development.  He is both a leader and a cheerleader for Main South.  He lives in Main South.  His parents lived in Main South.  He is tried and true in his burning loyalty to his neighborhood and City.  He was Chair of MSCDC Board for many years and always a Board member.  He has represented the MSCDC very well.

But lines were crossed last month when Billy verbally attacked and threatened Steve – first in a voice mail and then in the MSCDC parking lot.  The partnership broke, the team fell apart.  The media were notified and fed information, it became a “story” to be reported.  The reasons for anger and extreme hostility?  Who ever really knows why these things happen, but there was mention of unsafe intersection in the neighborhood where Billy’s partner’s family was injured, there was mention of the   painfully drawnout federal audit of the MSCDC’s use of block grant, there was mention of the MSCDC’s involvement in Main South Promise Neighborhood, there was mention of the MSCDC’s pending sale of 93 Grand Street.  So it appears that this outburst had been festering for some time.

As an active Board member of the MSCDC I can assure everyone that neighborhood outreach continues to keep residents, businesses, and partners informed and engaged.  Likewise I affirm that the MSCDC is finding ways to address the troublesome intersection, is engaged in getting to the final needs of the federal audit, is committed to strong partnership in Main South Promise Neighborhood, and is working on the sale of 93 Grand Street to stabilize the MSCDC’s financial position on this property.  All with Board knowledge and support.  No secrets, no misconduct.

Those of us connected to the Main South CDC and to Billy Breault are saddened.   Both are good.  Both make great contributions to our City.  Together isn’t working anymore.  But life will go on.  The Main South CDC will survive.  Billy will find new ways to boost Main South.

Sigh.

 

The Main South CDC: a proud history

Early Years: 1988-1990

The MSCDC’s first office space was provided by Clark University and was located in the attic area of the university administrative building. With no air conditioning, no air circulation and ninety degree temperatures outside, it soon became apparent that a move was necessary and “prime” office space was located a block from the university in an empty commercial space that formerly housed White’s Cleaners. In fact, “White’s Cleaners” (with a few letters missing) was still prominently displayed above the door.

At first, more visitors to the building were people looking for drycleaning than perople coming in to talk about MSCDC functions and business. In addition to the confusion over whether we were a MSCDC or a cleaners, we also dealt with stray cats that lived above the suspended ceilings and the problem of having to regularly evacuate the premises when the heating system malfunctioned and fumes and soot were blown into the office space.

However, through these early “adventures” the MSCDC was able to undertake some substantive work. State and local foundation funding was obtained and the MSCDC was able to hire Maria Rosario as property manager and Myrna Benson as receptionist. The additional staffing was necessary as the MSCDC had been fortunate enough to quickly locate and acquire its first property, 927 Main Street. The building consisted of 6 units of distressed housing and two run down commercial spaces and was located in a priority area under the MSCDC’s triage approach to its revitalization efforts.

This first project was a benchmark in the history of the MSCDC. It proved that the MSCDC could access loan capital from conventional lenders by combining it with state and federal grants and financing from secondary sources such as Clark and the Massachusetts Community Development Finance Corporation. The project clearly illustrated the Catch-22 situation that is encountered when trying to improve properties in distressed areas. Banks will not make large enough loans to improve property beyond the average market value of property in the area. When average values are depressed it is economically impossible to improve property without exceeding the average market valuation.

Therefore, in the absence of large amounts of equity, improving property in a distressed area required multi-layered Continue reading The Main South CDC: a proud history

Oak Hill CDC – making a big difference in my Worcester inner-city neighborhood (for almost 40 years!)

By Sue Moynagh

Twenty years ago, there was a house on my Worcester street that was a major eyesore, a real problem property. You know the story: absentee landlord lets the property slide into serious disrepair, tenants long gone, and so the house becomes a prime spot for crime in the neighborhood. I could see it from my apartment. I would watch pieces of siding pull off during wind storms and fly up the street. Windows were broken, and gradually, the house became a nest for squatters, prostitutes and drug dealers. There were other such houses in the Union Hill neighborhood, and these places are likely to be found in every city, but this place was “in my face,” visible from my parlor window. Every time I walked by, I could smell the garbage from the front hallway, as the door was almost always open. Who wants to live and raise their family next to that?

Then one day, I heard that Oak Hill Community Development Corporation (CDC) had bought the place and they were going to rehab it for first-time home buyers. I watched workers carry out tons of garbage and broken furniture. Windows and siding were replaced. The property next door, an abandoned lot, was made into parking spaces and a backyard with trees and grass. I went over for the open house and met the family who would purchase this place, but I also wanted to know more about the CDC that performed this miracle.

In 1999, I attended a few community meetings hosted by this agency. They were developing other properties, and wanted resident input on the proposed plans for the old, fire- gutted synagogue on Providence Street, as well as another badly neglected three decker house. I was intrigued and impressed, so I became a member of the Oak Hill real estate committee. In time, I joined their Board of Directors. I saw this as a great opportunity to become involved in turning my neighborhood around.

Now, in 2012, Oak Hill CDC has been a presence in this community for about 40 years. They have developed 184 units of affordable housing primarily in the Union Hill section, by rehabilitating burned out, run- down, and foreclosed properties. Most of these are historic three- deckers that probably would have been targets of arson and eventually torn down. They have also built some duplexes for first- time homebuyers. I have been in many of these homes, and again, I am impressed by the work. Owners are required to live inside these homes for a number of years before selling to another first- time home buyer. The hope is that these new residents will care about the neighborhood and become involved in making the community their own.

The CDC is involved in Community Engagement as well as real estate improvement. Last summer, I attended a Resident Leadership training hosted by Oak Hill CDC staff and board members. We met weekly to learn how to develop skills to work at the grassroots level. Although I have been involved in community work prior to this training, I learned quite a bit that has been useful to me as an activist. There are also monthly community meetings that include a crime watch. The Board Chair has been active in youth engagement, and there is a community garden that allows neighbors to grow their own healthy vegetables. This is just a sample of the contributions Oak Hill CDC has made to the neighborhood.

Is everything perfect? No, of course not. There is still much work to be done. There are still “eyesore” buildings that will require work. Fewer than half of the available unitsin the Oak Hill service area are owner occupied, and some absentee landlords have to be taken to court before they actually improve their properties. Community Development Corporations usually provide homeowners with assistance in making their buildings safe and suitable for tenants. There are other problems to deal with, such as crime and litter, but Oak Hill (and other CDCs and community based agencies) work with residents to take a proactive approach to making their area safer and cleaner. People have to get involved!

Oak Hill Community Development Corporation has definitely been an asset to the Union Hill neighborhood. They partner with other agencies, businesses and institutions to assist in bringing about positive changes. It is slow but sure work, but if enough residents care to change things for the better, the CDC will provide the resources to make this happen. I am grateful to Oak Hill for their work, and will continue to be a part of their team.

Remembering Clark University President Richard “Dick” Traina

By J. Stephen Teasdale, executive director, Main South Community Development Corporation

Many of us who have worked in Main South for more years than we may like to remember were deeply saddened this week to hear of the passing of former Clark University President Richard “Dick” Traina. Dick finally succumbed to the prostate cancer that he had been bravely fighting for the last few years. While the news of his passing was not unexpected, those of us who knew him, or had worked with him still felt a great sense of loss, for Dick was a man whose vision and sense of social justice fundamentally changed Clark’s relationship with its Main South neighbors and institutionalized Clark’s commitment to giving back to the community.

The mantra of giving back was integral to Dick’s philosophy of the role Clark should play in the community. It may be surprising to some but Dick was not someone who had grown up in a life of privilege. Growing up in challenging circumstances in San Francisco he saw a lot of his own background in the kids of Main South and wanted to create the kind of opportunities for them that had allowed him the chance to succeed in life. The definining feature of Dick’s presidency and a testimony to his character was that he believed that Clark had a moral imperative to be a socially responsible neighbor. It was the power of this belief and his leadership abilities that led to his philosophy becoming institutionalized at Clark.

Upon becoming President one of Dick and Polly’s first acts was to join Saint Peter’s Church where they became active members of the congregation. Dick continued to break down town/gown barriers by hosting an annual community cook out held on the University grounds and he met and listened to neighborhood residents about how Clark could become “part of the community” rather than a community unto itself.

In 1996, Dick and Polly had the President’s place of residence moved from an exclusive area of housing on William Street to a new location on Woodland Street. They felt that the President of Clark should live in Main South. They continued to live there as active community residents until 2000 when Dick retired.

It was under Dick’s guidance and leadership that the Clark University Partnership was established as a means of creating new economic, recreational and educational opportunities for the citizens of Main South. Dick persuaded the trustees of Clark to invest real dollars into community improvement efforts and to provide free tuition at Clark to eligible applicants whose families had lived in the neighborhood for five years. He appointed senior staff to support the effort and then gave it his full support. As a result Clark’s work became a national model for institutional community partnerships and received the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Partnership award in recognition of its accomplishments

However perhaps the one lasting achievement from which Dick drew the most satisfaction was the success of the University Park Campus School. The school which is a collaborative effort between Clark and the Worcester Public Schools was developed under his leadership and designed as an innovative new educational model. The school’s mission was to focus on creating a caring and supportive, yet challenging environment for kids, which would lead to academic success and would be accessible to all neighborhood children through an open lottery. The school has been one of the highest academically performing schools in the State, an amazing statistic when you consider that 54% of the students don’t speak English at home as a first language and 76% qualify for free school meals. Dick always understood that every child deserves an opportunity for academic success.

There is so much more to write about Dick, who with his wonderful wife and partner Polly did so much for this neighborhood and particularly the kids of Main South, but space is limited. It is enough to say that this unassuming, modest man managed to change the way that academic institutions nationally examine their social responsibility to the communities in which they are located. Dick Traina was a man who “walked the walk” and made a difference. May his legacy long continue.