Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Worcester Negamonger Challenge

I have a challenge for the citizens of Worcester. This is what I would like you to do.

The next time you are out and about in the city and you see something you don't approve of or something bad happens to you personally or whatever happens that makes you swear under your breath, "F*cking Worcester" I want you to ask yourself how you got the perception that whatever you are complaining about shouldn't be the way it is. See if you can think of an example where whatever is bothering you isn't that way somewhere else. Then I would like you to think about whether that comparison is fair. I will give an example and this was also the inspiration for this.

Over at Wormtown Taxi on Thursday, Jeff posted a thought about city hall and whether our citizens lack of participation in their city's government might have something to do with the fact that there isn't much parking at city hall. At that point I tried to think of different city halls that I have had to go to over the course of my life.

The one I have had to go to the most is Worcester. There's plenty of parking, expensive and cheap, within a very very short walk of the building. I don't know if us common folk are allowed to park in the garage underneath the building. This is a big secret to me. Worcester has about 175,000 people living in it.

I have had to go to Government Center in Boston quite a few times. I always take the T there though. Never have I even had to think about parking my car there. I did alot of walking those days though. Boston has a population of about 597,000 people.

When I was living in Baltimore I had to go to City Hall once. I took a bus to the Light Rail and then took the Light Rail the rest of the way into downtown. Again, quite a bit of walking. Bringing a car into downtown Baltimore is ridiculous to me. I mean there is no where to park! There actually probably was but I didn't know enough about the city to know where that parking was. Baltimore has a population of about 641,000 people.

I lived in Oxford MA for quite a bit of my life. I had to go to the town hall often to pay for this or register for that. There is a parking lot in the back plus a lot at the Cumby's nextdoor. Really easy to get in and out. Oxford has a population of about 13,000 people.

I mostly grew up in Shrewsbury MA. I never had any business at the Town Hall in Shrewsbury but my parents often did and I accompanied them alot. Huge parking lot on site. Never a problem. There really isn't anywhere off site to park and walk to the town hall. Also of note, the town hall in Shrewsbury sits on a pretty large parcel of land that is so big that there is about 2 acres of just lawn. Shrewsbury has a population of about 32,000 people.

One time I had to go to Meriden CT to get a copy of my birth certificate. They had a parking lot out in back of the city hall. It was a little hard to find city hall through their maze of a downtown but I finally found it. There also seemed to be ample metered street parking too. I did my business but downtown was kind of a pain. Meriden has a population of about 60,000 people.

So this is my history of going to City and Town Halls. Two large cities where I did much walking and took much public transportation, one mid sized city where I parked and walked a couple of blocks to city hall, a small city where there was free parking behind city hall, a large town where there was plenty parking in the emence civic complex known as the town offices, and a mid sized town where there was a large public parking lot on site.

But of course what do I know. The only mid sized city hall I have been to is Worcester's so I don't think much of having to walk a couple blocks to get to city hall because it's all I know. Everyone who complains about not being able to park right at city hall must have been to mid sized city halls all over this country where you can park for free right on site to make Worcester stand out as this freak exception. This could be the case. It could also be the case that they might feel more at home in Boston, Baltimore, Meriden, Shrewsbury or Oxford.

So this is all I ask. When you have an idea of how something should or shouldn't be here in Worcester ask yourself where you got that idea from before you start condemning the city and make sure that your expectations are realistic. I mean let's face it, I think we would all love an NBA franchise here, and we all know Worcester sucks because we can't get one.

That last bit was sarcasm folks.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Hanover Theater

See the key is that for every negative post you need two positive posts.

The Hanover Theater in Federal Square seems to be coming along nicely. After working for so long on the actual theater it looks like they have finally started to work on the facade. It'll be cool to see how it progesses and I will try to keep you updated. I think they said Spring 2008 for the opening? Can't wait!

Follow the link above to tell them what you want to see. Vote music!!! Vote good music!!!

Murals Of People Painting Murals

I know that in my previous post I talked about negativity and how the city has too much of it and that there really needs to be more positivity and less negativity in Worcester. Well sometimes negativity is justified and this here new fangled mural is one of those occasions.

If you aren't familiar with his piece of civic genious it is at the corners of Franklin, Foster, Green and McGrath. Now don't me wrong, I am not slamming the artists. They were commissioned to do some public art and they did some public art. The only problem is that the public art that they did is a mural of people painting a mural. Does anyone remember the totally bad ass Oilzum advertisement that used to adorn this space? And now we get this?

I am not one to criticize without suggestion but something way way way better that screams "We Are Worcester And We Are Awesome!" Could have gone here. This is the kind of mural that you put in a troubled neighborhood to show everyone that the neighborhood gets along and that we are all working together to make the neighborhood a better place. That is the message this mural sends. It should be saying that our downtown district kicks serious ass or at least give that message.

"Welcome to the Canal District"

"Welcome to Worcester"

"Welcome To Green Island"

Any of these would have been better then this. The city needs public art and I applaud efforts to make this city more asthetically pleasing to the eye but I cannot applaud this. Worcester needs beautification in the worst way but this is heading in the wrong direction. Whomever approved this needs a slap. This mural will hurt more than it helps. A mural of people painting a mural. Wow.

Progress Part 2

As I have mentioned previously I just moved downtown into the newly refurbished Bancroft Hotel building in the development that is known as Bancroft Commons. Bancroft Commons is not just the Bancroft itself but is actually a rather large mixed use development that is the Bancroft Hotel along with the entire block between Portland and Salem Streets minus the Printer's Building. The company doing the development is called the Mayo Group and from what I have seen so far they seem to really have their act together and have a tremendous vision of what their little corner of downtown Worcester can become. Of course, and probably for this very reason, there has been minimal press on the Mayo development. How much negative press has City Square gotten? Here we have a developer who is doing it and doing it right and very few people are even speaking about it. Worcester loves it's negativity and with City Square Wootown negamongers seem to have hit the motherload.

I have been here for one month and so far I love it. I know some things and I have heard some things. What I know is this. There is a Hookah Bar/Coffee House going into the space at the corner of Franklin and Portland. In the picture below you can see where the windows have been soaped at that space. There is a Super 88 going into the old Bancroft Nissan on Salem St. It will be nice to have a grocery store within walking distance just to pick up groceries. I don't mind going to Green Island for my meat and produce but I am kind of stuck when it comes to grocery. Super 88 will fill that need.

These are the things I know about. Things I have heard about that are not confirmed are that the Paris is being demolished, which would be awesome and take a heavy load off of the image of downtown. If Mayo successfully demolishes the Paris Connie Lukes herself should give John McGrail the key to the city. Also the two tenemant buildings on Portland are getting demolished and all of that open space is to be replaced with a brand new residential high rise. I have actually seen the artist renderings for this but you know, until I see actual progress on this front it is all hear say. I also hear that an established cafe in another area of downtown is going to move into one of the basement spaces in the Bancroft. I hope that happens soon. Those empty basement spaces look awful. Mayo should do something to dress those windows until something moves in there.

What I feel that Mayo is doing correctly is they are trying to bring people in before they do anything else. Before offices and before commercial. Offices and employees are great and we need them downtown but in my opinion you can only expect about 12 hours of vibrancy from people working downtown while you can expect 18 hours of vibrancy from people living here.

So I am very happy with my new abode downtown and happy to be contributing to what finally may be the rebirth of downtown Worcester. I have to believe in it you know? I really have no other choice. I mean if you had a son or daughter that made mistakes her whole life you would have no choice than to support him or her every time they made an effort to make strides in their life, right? I was on the fence for a very long time about this city. Now that I have finally decided that this is where home is, that Worcester isn't just a place I am temporarily but a place were I will most likely live out the remainder of my days I have never seen things clearer. And speaking of seeing things it's fun to see progress and change everyday. I have a pretty good vantage point too. Check it out.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

There's No Bollards Like Show Bollards

As first reported here and then commented again on over here , the city installed 45 bollards as part of the upgrade to the common a few years ago. Of those 45 bollards only 36 of them are actually secured to the ground.

I say we take the 9 that are not secured and line them up in front of the entrance to city hall. How does something like that go unchecked? You know maybe the city council should stop crowing about Berkley Investments, Young Park and City Square and start making sure that their own infrastructure, the stuff that they actually have control of, is ready for the added amount of pedestrians that the next few years are going to bring to downtown.