By Rosalie Tirella
Yesterday morning: pictures of the Mercantile and Ruth’s – and a totally reconfigured part of Downtown Worcester, where the old Worcester Galleria shopping mall used to be. Now we have trendy restaurants and faceless coffee shops, a fancy hotel, parking … a mini-dog park, all for the rich newcomers. The kiddos and some empty nesters (also dog owners) all live in this new downtown, they live in those ghastly apartment complexes across the street that haven’t a single regular Worcester peep or family living in them! You know the buildings: the huge ugly ones that Ed Augustus built all over this part of downtown to bring people into the neighborhood, to create a new neighborhood, a neighborhood not meant for Worcesterites but for the Bostonians who are coming to our city for the more affordable … everything, driving up prices for the rest of us. The Augustus apartment complexes resemble all those huge ugly hotels you find all over Metro West: cheaply made, character-less … glorified dormitories.
Why did former Worcester City Manager Ed Agustus abandon the neighborhood after he created it? Why did Ed leave downtown City Hall, just a 10 minute walk away from the trendy Mercantile, for a job in some small Worcester County town, working in some small college? The old Worcester vibes … Ed’s contract wasn’t up for a few years. He was the top money maker in Worcester municipal government. Could it be that Ed Augustus couldn’t relate to the new faceless, moneyed downtown he created just across the street from the Worcester Common/his City Hall where he worked? Was Ed’s new neighborhood “too much” for Ed? … totally unrelatable to Ed Augustus, born and raised in blue-collar Webster Square?
Where is the egalitarian shopping experience that defined the old downtown Worcester, the old downtown Worcester of Ed Agustus? That Downtown Worcester had something for everyone: rich, poor, working class, middle class …We came together as a community to shop and knosh!
A TALE OF TWO WORCESTER’S – the rich newcomers and us poorer locals!
Gone is the upward mobility of the old Worcester – via our factories and shops with their reliable paychecks and good benefits. Gone are our once AFFORDABLE three deckers, priced just right for first generation Worcester FAMILIES. Now it’s $2,200 monthly rent for a Woo three decker apartment – 3 bedrooms, 3 roommates coming together to pay for it all. Not a family building anymore. Now an investment. A high mortgage that requires high rents. When a local social worker tells me he’s got a line of 12 people outside his door – all waiting for his help, most struggling with housing, you know SMOC AND CMHA can’t do it all. This social worker told me he’s seeing Worcester working families who pay more than 50% of their income towards their rent!
Table Talk Pies factory being knocked down, for the most part … more upscale, overpriced apartments for the Boston crowd to be built. Bet the pie factory guy is a rich owner! His factory rebuilt in Main South. Hope he pays his workers a living wage!
Shame on Tim Murray and his chamber of commerce for refusing to get behind the Community Preservation Act – a way to help fund affordable housing in Massachusetts cities and towns – including Worcester. … Murray knows how to feather his own nest! He got his chamber cronies to almost double his executive director salary during the first year he was hired by the chamber (after disgracing himself politically). His salary went from around $90,000 to around $180,000 – in just several months!
Worcester needs to join this state program to tap into millions$$$ to build more affordable housing here. People are living on our streets, in our parks, in our woods. VOTE YES☑️ this fall FOR COMMUNITY PRESERVATION! It’s on the ballot!🗳️
Almost 18 years ago InCity Times ran Worcester’s first cover story on a transgendered youth: we talked with Jesse, a case manager/social worker at AIDS PROJECT WORCESTER and published his story. We were mocked for writing and publishing the lengthy interview in which Jesse, a WPI graduate, talked of his prior life as a young woman, always feeling he was a boy in the wrong body, coming out to his parents and then the exciting transitioning process – biological, true, what his body was experiencing, how right it all felt now. Jesse was finally happy… Becoming who he was destined to become.
Yes, InCity Times/our website were chastised – but we were 20 years ahead of the times (just like we were with veganism … banning elephants and all exotic animals from circuses … banning greyhound racing … ) We are saddened to learn about the hatred and hysteria that’s threatening the very lived of the great doctors and health staff at a Boston hospital because they helping young people find themselves … begin to make the transition to their true selves … These dangerous people need to be educated: No one pushes these kids into anything. A friend whose wife worked as a principal at a local elementary school told me there was a kindergartner whose parents and teachers felt was showing signs of being mislabeled. THEY LET THE CHILD GROW IN THE DIRECTION THE CHILD NEEDED TO GROW IN AND WANTED TO GROW IN. It wasn’t a joke or a whim or a directive from anyone!
PLEASE! LET’S ALL BE EDUCATED AND LEARN THE FACTS!