Parking Privatization, December 3 edition

So, I heard back from Joff Smith on Tuesday, December 1, about my parking privatization concerns.  Here’s what he had to say:

I am aware of the City Manager’s plans to explore the leasing of our parking garages and meters to an outside investment company in return for tens of millions of dollars in upfront money. I know there has been some interest but nothing is finalized at all. If it did happen the city could put certain safeguards in place to protect people that utilize them. It would also ensure they are properly maintained and they can’t raise prices to unfair levels. The upfront revenue would be vital for the city to use in various ways which could include repaving all the streets and sidewalks in need in the city. We are still waiting to hear more details before anything is finalized or any votes are taken. Thanks for your concern.

There are a few problems I have with this.

First, we had $500,000 worth of stimulus money that we just used on McKeon Road’s sidewalk.  Why wasn’t that used to improve some other horrendous sidewalk situations?  If this is how we just spent federal ARRA money, why do we think that we would spend money from a company that’s leasing our parking spaces more wisely?

Second, I dare someone to read this or listen to this and tell me that you think Worcester would not get screwed in a similar way when the day is done.

Third, if this isn’t a done deal, then why is the city manager acting like it’s already been decided on?

Fourth, if this is so lucrative, then why should the city give it up?  As far as I can tell, there’s only two ways to make money on the parking: for the outside vendor to pay their employees less (or no benefits, etc.) or for them to jack up prices.  Because otherwise how would they make any money?

I need to find a way to get Gary Vecchio to agree with me.  Because he’s the kind of guy who can get things done.

Interview with Sam Garland, Holy Cross Student

The College of the Holy Cross and its relationship with its neighbors has been a topic of a lot of debate and discussion recently.  I thought it would be good to hear a student perspective on these issues.  (I also hope that in the near future, I’ll be able to have other discussions with a Holy Cross neighbor and with a similar student/neighbor pair from WPI.)

Sam Garland, member of the class of 2010 and student chair of SADER, answered my questions via email.

Do you come from the Greater Worcester area?

I am not from the Greater Worcester area.  I grew up in Bartlett, New Hampshire.

How much of a role did the City of Worcester play a role in your decision to attend Holy Cross?

I chose to apply to Holy Cross based on the academic merits of the school and my desire to attend a liberal arts institution, but I was moderately familiar with Worcester at the time I applied.  My mother attended Clark University as an undergrad and I have a cousin who attended WPI, so I had been to Worcester before.  While the city did not contribute to my ultimate decision to choose Holy Cross, my familiarity with Worcester eased the transition process once I began freshman year. Continue reading

Ten Years Ago Today

Ten years ago today, while many men were fighting a fire, while six men lost their lives, I was having dinner with a group of friends in the North End to celebrate my twenty-first birthday, which was on the following day.

I came home and went to bed without turning on my radio or checking the news on my computer.  I had to get up early the next morning to take the train into Worcester to spend my actual birthday with my then-boyfriend (now husband).

He was late coming to pick me up from the train station.  I was upset.  He explained why.  I didn’t realize that just over the hill from where the train had dropped me off, six men had died risking their lives to make sure others were safe.

A little less than two years before, in the early hours of the morning after Christmas, there was a fire in my boyfriend’s house, and the Worcester Fire Department put it out.  I live in this house now, and I anticipate living here for years to come.  We’re still renovating the house as a result of that fire, but this disruption is nothing compared to the loss suffered by the families and friends of those six firefighters.

So, today is a day for me to reflect a bit on the sacrifices made not just by those six families, but for all families of firefighters.  For the wives and husbands who worry and pray when their spouses leave for work, for the children who give up bedtime stories and tuckings-into-bed on the nights their parents work, all so that someone will answer the call when I am in need.