I heard from Liz Todd, and I thought I’d share a little bit of what she said:
“Thank you for your interest in this issue. We did go to the City Council meeting last week to try to talk with a few councilors face-to-face, and were pleasantly surprised when Mr. Palmeri spoke so passionately on our behalf.
“Two years ago, this topic first came up when the Antiquarian Society tried to purchase 1 Montvale and put in a parking lot where the old court stands. Some people in the neighborhood (led by the next door neighbor, Mr. Bruce Bunke, and Mr. Crowley) did not want this to happen.
“First, they tried to prevent it by going through the zoning laws. Unfortunately for them, the Antiquarian Society is an educational institution, and is therefore exempt from certain zoning restrictions (and were therefore within their rights to put in a parking lot should they purchase 1 Montvale). Then, they tried to use the Worcester Historical Commission, on which Mr. Crowley sits, to stop the developments. It was at this point that they discovered that the court was not actually in the historic district, and was therefore out of their jurisdiction.
“And so began the battle to include the court in the district and establish control over the land usage. First, they tried to prove that the court was left out by mistake. This was proved to not be the case, so they then tried to prove that the court had some sort of historical value. Again, they failed. Now, they claim to want to include the court as a “buffer” to the historic district. Sounds like an issue of eminent domain, huh?
“So here’s where we stand now. Adi and I have proposed to the Council members to put something into writing that would prevent a commercial parking lot from ever being built where the tennis court now stands. We offer this as a compromise to the concerned neighbors, even though we do not gain anything from it. Why? Because at the end of the day, we still have to live here when this is all over.
“Still, we’re not sure if they’ll even take that. We’ve been told that if this goes to vote in front of the council, we will lose due to ‘political pressure.’ So, attached is a petition that we are spreading around to the people of Worcester in the hope that they will support us in keeping the court out of the historic district. Perhaps if the voters of this city voice their opinions, the Council will listen.
“If City Council can include our tennis court in the district, and thereby compromise our land use rights without just compensation, then they can do the same for any other lots around either of Worcester’s historic districts. In other words, they are setting a precedent here. If they can include our land, then who will be next? More lots down on Park Ave? Just something that everyone may want to consider.”
The petition is located here. Anyone who would like to sign (and Liz makes many compelling points for why you should care, even if you don’t live anywhere near her) can mail the petition back to 1 Montvale Rd, Worcester, MA 01609, or can email it to onemontvale (at) yahoo (dot) com.