Interview with T Jablanski, Holy Cross Neighbor

I read some of T Jablanski’s remarks about the Holy Cross/neighbor situation on the InCity Times website, and she was kind enough to answer the questions I had for her.  I think some of what she says, especially about the power of apology, has been missing in the recent debate about the town/gown relationship.  There’s been too much shouting and not enough listening on this topic, and I would love to hear from more neighbors — long-time and student — about this topic, because I think that all people want to be treated with respect, and I don’t think the current debate has done anything to further basic human respect.

How long have you lived in the neighborhood?

4 years

Why did you originally move there?

Our son was in the Marine Corps and we didn’t want to sell our home in Auburn until he returned home, but both of us have medical issues that we needed a one level home — so we rented the house in Auburn and bought the house on the hill close to Auburn.

What was the noise level like when you first moved in the neighborhood?

The first year here there were several young men/students renting the house across the street. We knew one of the students personally from church and things were pretty respectful and quiet. Only an occasional party throughout the school year. Continue reading

Liveblog: DOT Hearing on Canal District Streetscape project

Update — 16 December — summary is here.

6.41 — John Bouchard (of Vanasse Hangen Brustlin) starts his presentation. 

 Proposed improvements: resurface existing streets.  (inch and a half to two inches will be removed, then put back on as DOT requires.)

 Sidewalks reconstructed with cement concrete.  Handicapped access.  Colored brick or concrete banding.  Would like input.  They have looked at individual brick and concrete in the city – not maintained, not always handicapped accessible.

 New lighting – more pedestrian scale, a little lower, spaced to blend with trees.

 At major intersections – enhanced crosswalks (brick color or cobble pattern).  Whether the same materials, they will blend with sidewalk brick banding.  Again, looking for input on this. 

 Landscaping trees (3-3.5 inch caliper).  Mostly shade or upright tree.  The species will be chosen based on ALB.

 Curb bump outs (like on some areas of Shrewsbury Street) near the crosswalks – for handicapped, as a buffer for pedestrians, etc.

 They are not changing the designations (making one way streets two way, etc.).  What will be part of the cross-section will be parking, sometimes on both sides as it is now, one lane in the middle.  Bicycle lane where possible, because you need to accommodate bikes for state and federal funding, else apply for a waiver.

6.54 — Temple Street — will try to “soften” the paved area near Fairway Beef

Winter Street will not have a heavy emphasis because the city is applying for some work on Grafton Street that would include this.  There would be a sidewalk improvement here.

Parking on Castellana’s side of Harding Street would be restricted.

6.55 — Two ways (one lane in each direction) on Green Street.  Will review existing plantings to see what kind of shape the trees are in.  Improvements for pedestrian crossings.

He now shows a picture of Green Street with proposed improvement.  New crosswalks, curbing brought out at crosswalks.  Banners for Canal District.  Two lanes, bike accomodating shoulder.  If they can make sidewalks wider, they will, taking into account bikes & parking.  Enhanced crossing.

6.57 — Millbury Street example — trees, non-ugly aluminum lighting, bike lane, etc.

6.59 — Water Street near Broadway — landscaping near municipal lot, nice-looking crosswalk; bike accomodation on the left side because of 290 ramp.

7.01 — Joseph Borbone director of engineering for Public Works and Parks — City of Worcester very excited about this project, because it affects their lives and livelihood.  Would like to thank state officials and workers for their work on this.  Also, Central Mass Planning for using this room tonight.

7.03 — Mark Picard of Widoff’s Bakery.  Lower Columbia Street: will this be left alone while everything else is nice?

John Bouchard: Project limits are to the main thoroughfares.  Not planning on going far on the side streets.

Picard: concerned because everything will be beautiful and that will be black tar.

7.05 — Allen Fletcher, resident of district, propety owner, president of Canal District Alliance — asked Bouchard about size of street lights.  Ones currently there are designed for highways.  You tend not to notice them until you really notice them.  He feels that if these are the ones like on Shrewsbury Street, the lights will be too high.  The point will be for them to be at a human scale (10 feet high) — especially on the narrower streets, like Millbury Street.

7.07 — Mary Moule – lives on Vernon Street — walks in the area — doesn’t understand proximity of bike lane. 

Bouchard — bike lane will be a white shoulder stipe with signs for share the road.  Pavement will not be marked for the bike line, between where car is driving and car is parked.

Also to respond to a bench question by Moule — they will place them in appropriate locations.  Along with bike racks near municipal parking, trash receptacles.

Moule — as a consumer, she thinks this is an excellent idea.

7.08 — Chuck Cooper from Vernon Street — once this is in place, this will require maintenance: pruning trees, roads, keeping clean. 

Kim Sloane — trees maintained by city, etc.  No budget through Mass DOT.  No estimate on cost.

Cooper — second question — under pavement, there is cobblestone?

Bouchard — yes, in some areas.  Some have brick, some cobble, some add’l asphalt.  Not planning on going to cobble or brick layer.

7.11 — Selim Lahoud – property owner, live there, own business — changed pavement, did plantings, in front of his building, street light.  Can he keep what he has done?  This is a historical district.  Can wehave brick sidewalks, make it more that reminds you of Boston or a historical area?

Also, can we have solar powered lights on the street to minimize expenses of running lights?

Response: solar powered LED lights were considered, but weren’t comfortable with the technology as it exists now.  

Something that we want to look at in future projects.

Lahoud – lives on Harding Street, and thinks that the district should be more pedestrian-friendly.  People zoom down Harding and Winter Street.  He thinks that something should be done to make walking safer.

7.16 — Judy Kirk — resident, affiliated with YWCA — wanted to encourage non-motorized travel, and this seems to be encouraging it.  Seems to be a neglect around Kelley Square.  How do we get from Millbury Street to Green Street safely?

Kim Sloane — not enough money to incorporate Kelley Square in this project.  There will be no work on Kelley Square.

7.18 — Bill Wallace — Worcester Historical Museum — lots of resources to address historical character of district.  Also, here as co-chair of Worcester Cultural Coalition.  Working to develop wayfinding system (like outside City Hall).  Hope that there will be an integration into this plan for the whole city.

7.19 — Andy Feldman — own Broadway — project’s timetable?  Project will begin in Summer 2010?

Sloane — construction will start in either Summer or Fall 2010 and proceed for 18 months.

Feldman — which order will the construction go in?
Sloane — that will be left up to the selected contractor.

7.20 — Jo Harte — who suggested this specific linear project?

Sloane — worked with city officials. 

Bouchard — work with Congressman’s Office, City of Worcester Planning Office.  There was something that went out through the business community.

Harte – why is public transportation going for something that Worcester DPW has neglected for years?  (sidewalks in disrepair, broken, etc.)  The area looks battered and should be kept that way.  Gussying it up is pointless.  Why shouldn’t we have more two-way streets, which would cut down on traffic and improve pedestrian friendliness.  She thinks that someone should walk around and rethink the whole scope, because she thinks that they’re putting in a pattern where there’s no pattern.

7.25 — Mike Kennedy — ADA coordinator — wants to thank them for having paved sidewalks with banded concrete.

Bouchard – colored concrete would be 16-18 inch trim band.  For crosswalks, two or three different alternatives. 

Kennedy — wheelchair user, and wants to be on record against cobblestones or brick pavers — maintenance nightmare, just look at outside edges of city hall.  Banded concrete looks nice, adds color and texture, but much better for wheelchairs.  At intersections with pedestrian signals, audible signals would be appreciated for visually impaired.  Wants tactile warnings at ramps, ADA compliant ramps.  Perpendicular curb cuts are better for the visually impaired, versus apex curb cuts.  Also, reinforce architectural access for sidewalks when it comes to benches, etc.

Are tree roots taken into consideration?  (for sidewalks)

Bouchard — tree species will be taken into consideration — mulch pits versus tree grates, and will be taken into consideration.

7.32 — Harte — one more comment — no city officials here because it’s a city council night.  Take into consideration in future.

Paul Robbins — owns property on Harding Street — commend State — most exciting addition to Worcester in his business life.  Opportunity for city to come alive.  Looking forward to revitalization of Worcester.  If this does not happen — business will be driven out of Worcester.

7.34 — Allen Fletcher again — regarding street trees: sometimes merchants don’t like them because they obscure signs.  Will particular merchants have a chance to plead their case?

Bouchard — street lighting laid out first, street trees to fill in gaps, but they want to be cognizant of business owners.  They will go into district and see if tree plans make sense.

Fletcher – side streets.  Because federal money, only certain streets available for improvements, not side streets.

response: yes, they put together this plan so that it would be eligible for federal dollars.

7.36 — Mullin Sawyer — Oak Hill CDC — commend for plans.  This neighborhood is home to many generations of immigrants.  What he wants to say is – don’t think that everything has to match – lots of things that fit together and make a nice mosaic.  There are things that this can do to make this more palatable as a neighborhood.

7.40 — Harte — isn’t this mostly funded by state?

Sloane — 80% federal.  We can’t do more for side streets because it still has to qualify for the federal standards.

Bouchard — state share is a matching share, not an addition.

7.41 — Donna Clark — chair of Worcester Commission on Disabilities — would like to commend them for choosing Worcester & particular section of city.  We appreciate comments from Kennedy — she wants to make sure that there’s enough light to see where people go.

7.43 — Mary Moule again — is there a plan for scored concrete? 

Bouchard — either trim band or scored concrete for crosswalks and trim band. 

7.44 — Chris Benders — part of Susan Champeny’s artist group — thrilled that we’re doing work.  How are the various projects supposed to fit together?  Concerned that no one is looking at how they will all connect.  Lighting – she’s concerned about light pollution – lights on Shrewsbury Street cast light up as well as down.  Effort should be made to cast light down.

Bouchard — street lighting — going to design lighting and still need to do analysis on scale and light requirements.  One of elements is where the light falls.  Doesn’t have details, but will be considered.  Coordination of other elements of the city – with Mass DOT and City of Worcester, there has been some discussion on what those other elements are.  Looking to rebuild sidewalk in Green Street bridge, but there are other issues with the bridge not in the scope of this project.

7.48 — John Gengregorio — Canal District Business Association — thank you, we appreciate it.  Project will make district more pedestrian friendly.  Main concern is process for choosing components of design: lighting, sidewalk treatment, trees.  Other concern is omission of Kelley Square, the gateway to the district.

7.51 — Harte – why don’t you consider crosswalk area where the color/stripes are built in?  Distinctive pattern for Canal District?

Bouchard — crosswalks will be colored throughout, not painted.  Stamped or inlaid concrete or asphalt.

7.54 — Richard Asadoorian – by far, most comprehensive improvement – very supportive, applaud efforts.

Gengregorio again – design process?

 Sloane – as they move forward, Bouchard will work on finer details.  She believes that John B. will meet with business group, but no more formal public meetings on this.

7.56 — and that’s it!