Tag Archives: WBDC

Glad that Quinsigamond Community College is moving …

By Rosalie Tirella

… downtown. Students always make a city look/feel young. But let’s think beyond kids. And let’s look to Boston, the classic college city/oasis, as we redevelop our downtown. Boston is finally seeing some movement when it comes to redeveloping its Downtown Crossing, an old downtown hot spot, the place where Filenes used to be. This Boston icon was fun to visit in the 1980s when I would go into the city to visit my kid sister who lived there.

Back then Downtown Crossing was no Newbury Street, but it was a natural fit for a couple of Green Island girls! Basic stores, cheap eats, lots of working people. Nice vibe. Now there is a crater two stories deep where the old Filenes used to be. Redevelopment stalled, the building, now nicknamed THE HOLE, has reminded Bostonians just how tough these past few years have been on cities. A fight with the developer of the site lead the city of Boston to pull the building permits it had issued.

Well, today Filenes sings a different song. The site is back on track and, like Worcester officials, Boston’s movers and shakers are pushing for a lively mix of uses. Residences, offices, restaurants, etc. COOL POINT TO REMEMBER: the City of Boston is pressing for A SUPERMARKET TO BE BUILT AMIDST ALL THIS URBAN RENEWAL. The reason? Officials make perfect sense when they say, We want our new urban dwellers to be able to grocery shop. Right in their backyard. Literally.

Again, a Trader Joe’s would be perfect for the Worcester Public Library parking lot. The city says it’s going to be developed, like it ornot. This makes a lot of library patrons and downtownbiz folks mad because the lot IS USED, DOES SERVEA PURPOSE. Cheap parking. Easy, safeparking downtown.

These peeps must wake up! We’re a city on the move, not Oxford orthe Greendale Mall parking lot. Cities on the move are never car parking heavens or havens. It’s a bit of a battle, and it willcostyou somedough. Let’saccept and BE GRATEFUL FOR OURNEWURBAN REALITY.

So let’s do this intelligently. Screw the hockey rink. Get a sharp, cool supermarket in that parking lot so that new downtownresidentshave a place to shop for quality food at lower prices. Let’s copy Boston’s Downtown Crossing urban renewal blueprint. Let’s get a freaking Trader Joe’s at the librarylot. Great fornew folks, greatforourinner city families who so desperately need to have access to fresh produce and otherhealthy foods.

Reading about WBDC’s Craig Blais …

… and his shenanigans in Auburn (see Steve’s post below) makes me think … Worcester’s gonna have a hockey rink plunked onto the Worcester Public Library parking lot! Like it or not!

Forget Trader Joe’s. Forget diversity. It’s all about taking the easy way out. The colleges are willing to pony up the dough. Let’s take the money and run with the colleges’ vision.

Lots of Worcester folks say no to this vision. It’s up to the city council and city manager to respect the will of the people. It’s our municipal parking lot. Not the WBDC’s.

Keep your eye on Batman Blais!

– Rosalie Tirella

Some background on WBDC President and CEO Craig Blais, aka “Batman Blais”

Craig Blais

The pudgy, mild mannered Craig Blais before he morphs into “BATMAN BLAIS,” WPL parking lot nemesis!!! (Our apologies to Bat Man! We did not mean to use you for evil!!! – R. Tirella)

By Steven R. Maher

Talk about the arrogance of power.

Worcester Business Development Corporation (WBDC) President and Chief Executive Officer Craig Blais (“Batman Blais”) and his faithful Tonto, Worcester State College Board of Directors Chairman  John Brissette (the “Boy Wonder”), want city residents to be patient while they have plans drawn up to build a skating rink on the Francis J. McGrath Parking Lot next to the Worcester Library.

“We need to fashion a study first and come up with a design and plan,” Brissette said. “At the end of the day, how can someone say they don’t want it when they don’t know what it will look like? It’s putting the cart before the horse. You’ve got to let us finish the process first.”

This all has a familiar ring to it.

In the 1980s Batman Blais was an Auburn Selectman and the Boy Wonder, an elected Auburn Town Meeting Member, where both advocated selling the existing Auburn High School and Auburn Library to developers and building a new high school on land in a residential neighborhood.

The land where it would be built on was farmland acquired by Auburn under a state agricultural law. Blais and his cronies told Auburn voters that some adjacent parcels of the property would be sold off as house lots and the bulk of the remainder would be preserved.

Then, of course, after the voters approved the purchase, Blais’ political faction, including Brissette, brought forth the idea of building a new high school on the land, something no one mentioned until after the election.

The next move by Batman Blais and the Boy Wonder will to tell us about all the money spent on designing the Worcester skating rink and how that will be totally wasted if Worcester doesn’t follow through and build the rink.

I’ll give credit to Brissette for something: He at least has developed some public relations sense. Batman Blais in his customary bull headed way, arrogantly told media: “We are going to address the issues of the library and incorporate their concerns, but at the end of the day we’re going to develop that lot.”

I thought the Worcester City Council and Worcester City Manager Mike O’Brien would make the ultimate decisions, not a WBDC President who lives in Sutton.

Craig Blais wants the library parking lot developed, and if the City Manager and City Council don’t want that to happen, then Batman Blais thinks they should go screw themselves.

Worcester Business Development Corporation (WBDC): smoking bad crack?!

By Steven R. Maher

This has to be one of the stupidest, most asinine proposals to emerge from the bowels of Worcester in the past several years: Convert the Worcester Library Parking into an indoor skating rink. Whatever crackpot came up with this idea should be put into a straitjacket and packed off to an asylum. Or maybe someone just smoked some bad crack.

The Worcester Telegram reported on December 20, 2012, that, as part of a proposal by the Worcester Business Development Corporation (WBDC) to set up a theatre district, an indoor skating rink would be constructed on the Francis J. McGrath Parking Lot adjacent to the library. It would be “one of the three major components in revitalizing the area.”

When I first read the Telegram article, I thought this was a joke. Worcester taxpayers, citizens, and philanthropists have spent huge sums of money converting the library from a seedy, urban eyesore with restrooms populated by perverts into one of Worcester’s greatest gems. The Worcester Library is a state of the art facility with beautifully renovated reading areas, scanners so people can check out their own books, and well equipped computer areas. Whenever this writer goes into the library, there are large numbers of inner city youth using the computers. Apparently the WBDC birdbrains think these youth would rather skate on ice than the internet.

This writer lives in Auburn but prefers to use the Worcester library, since it has a wider variety of books. Most of the book reviews in the InCity Times are of books borrowed from the Worcester Public Library. Why would anyone use a library if there is no parking nearby? A library without a parking lot is like a hot dog without mustard.

Crazy plan

The library’s board of directors, to their credit, strongly opposes this ludicrous proposal. One of them called the plan “crazy.” Implementing the plan would require the Off Street Parking Board to vote that “the lot is no longer needed for its intended purpose, and if the board determines that it is no longer needed, custody would be handed over to the city manager.” “If the lot were transferred, it’s the end of the library downtown,” Worcester Library Board of Directors Kevin Dowd said of the proposal.

Worcester could then end up with an airport AND a library that no one uses. Sounds like Worcester, doesn’t it?

Nobody elected the WBDC. According to its website, the WBDC was established as a quasi-public agency by the state in 1965, with a stated goal of creating more private sector jobs, particularly in manufacturing. The WBDC should stick to that instead of ruining a city institution which actually works.