Library District Taskforce Meeting 1 Liveblog

Members are here – so this will begin.

4:03 – Theatre Square Library District Taskforce (I think that’s what it’s called)

Judy Finkel – “library is preeminent institution in downtown Worcester”

With Sunday and Monday openings, we should have about a million visitors (I think I heard that right).

WBDC’s notion of live-work-play – when we’re considering usage for parking lot, extent to which it can be mixed-use while considering the library.

City tasked them with their five priorities, and they’d like to provide those.

4:06 – she has posted some of the ideas that came up from the article, this blog, staff survey, etc.

4:07 – Mary Keefe asks if we’re talking about whole district, or just this lot.  Judy says the focus has been the lot.

Jim Kersten – has concerns because CitySquare has 80-90% vacant.  Do we need more vacancy, or focus on filling what we have?

Do we need to do this right now?

Mary Keefe – the war memorial and courthouse are just sitting there.

Deb Packard – this is a different group that’s planning this project.  Doesn’t think it’s bad to go forward with this as well.

Donna – this was sort of pushed on us because of what city and WBDC are planning.  We have to look at it within the context of the whole district.  CitySquare has changed so many times in the past 5-6 years.

Judy – there may be some immediate decisions made, but longer-range decisions for whole district as well.

Susan Gately – another piece here – the library has an interest in parking.  Need to know what part of the lot we do need.  Is concerned about the impact from a visual perspective.  “The worst thing we can do is build a plain building right downtown which is what an ice rink would be.  Doesn’t warrant any architectural interest…”  Our role should be twofold: look at in our interest, and the interest of the city.

Susan Gately – even calling this the theater/library district, to her they don’t go together.  If we want to call it a cultural district, that’s another story.

Deb Packard – this is the theatre district, the library’s just an add-on

Susan – but a hockey rink doesn’t fit into a theatre district either.

Jim Kersten – they proposing this on city property using public money, we have a very loud voice on this.

Susan Gately – went to a meeting representing the library board, and said WBDC folks didn’t know about the stairway across from Wyman-Gordon.  To her, that makes sense.

Kevin Dowd – what would this area look like if the library looked at it as a central piece?  What if the library were to think more connectedly with the rest of the area?

Second piece (besides parking) is security.

Until you can convince me that the walk from two blocks away is safe, you can’t convince me that moving parking two blocks away is good.

Paul Dell’Aquila – thinks the WBDC generally does really good work, hopeful they can gain some enlightenment.  This is a public project, so there should be a public process for it.

A lot of projects have been lacking in speaking to one another – linking to stuff that’s happening in other parts of the city.  This could really be a lynchpin for what else happens downtown.

A single-use facility, however well-designed, is not good.  Wyman-Gordon, or the old Price Chopper on Mill Street, or other sites could be better.

Deb – determine how much space the library actually needs for parking.  Surface parking lot really not conducive to downtown.  Thinks architecture is critical.  Important for us to include whatever goes there with what goes with city’s streetscape guidelines.  Thinks it’s important to have something that’s mixed-use.

Judy – even if they were to reconfigure the parking and add something aesthetic.

Steve is here and will start presenting now…