Library District Task Force meeting this Wednesday

Friendly reminder that the next library/theater district task force meeting will be this Wednesday, November 14 at 7 PM in the Third Floor Ellipse of the Main Library.

There was an article about the McGrath Parking Lot in last Thursday’s Worcester Mag.

I just wanted to clarify/expand on a few things:

There was a statement that “an opposition group formed as the Library District Committee.”  I think this refers to the library board’s task force on the area, the task force that will meet on Wednesday.  I don’t think the group was formed to oppose the plans so much as to find out what people want and what would mesh well with the library.

I cannot emphasize the need for a real public process enough.

The WBDC has been meeting with the stakeholders in the area, each separately.

It’s unclear what they tell each stakeholder.

But — let’s remember — the McGrath Parking Lot does not belong to the WBDC.  It belongs to the City of Worcester.  We all own it and we are all stakeholders.

I have heard from others that the WBDC’s plans are changing as a result of feedback.

In fact, they will be presenting their plans at a presentation called “Building the New Worcester” later this month.  [More on that later in this post]

But until that presentation happens, on November 28, my understanding is that we will not receive their final draft of the plans.

My friend Mr. McGourthy says that “This will go through the City Council. We’re open to ideas. The public vetting process is coming.”

The problem is that — as the city is structured right now — there is no clear path for the public to vet ideas, and that the City Council is not the right forum to discuss planning.

If you’re interested in seeing what the WBDC had planned when they spoke to the library board this past summer, please look at this presentation.  I have also posted the market study of that area of downtown to Google Drive.

That is what I (and any other citizen who cares) have to work with: a months-old presentation of a design that has little to do with the needs outlined in the market study.  The rumor that what will be presented at the end of November will be better than what is before us.  The hope that a public process will actually be publicized and involve the public.

We deserve better, and we should demand better.

I will be at Wednesday’s meeting, to listen and take notes.  I hope you come to, and I hope you ask questions.

As I mentioned above, there will be a panel discussion called Building the New Worcester, on November 28th at the Hanover Theatre. There will be representatives from the WBDC, the City of Worcester, Preservation Worcester and the Downtown Neighborhood Alliance.

This event is free to members of the Hanover Theatre, Preservation Worcester, The Worcester Historical Museum, Arts Worcester, The Greater Worcester Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Neighborhood Alliance, the Shrewsbury Street Merchants Association, the Canal District Alliance, Friends of the Worcester Public Library and Woo Card holders.

If you do not fall into any of those categories, and would like to attend, please come as my guest.  Let me know and we’ll arrange something.

Attending both of these meetings would be optimal.

If you care about the future of the lot, or the future of this section of downtown, we need you to at least attend the meeting at the library on Wednesday evening.

How many projects in this city — be they road construction or building demolition — seem to happen all of a sudden, and leave residents scratching their heads?

This is one we have caught ahead of time, and you can get involved in it.  It has the potential to totally change that area of downtown — but it’s up to us to ensure that the change is a positive one.

It’s far too likely to be changed for the worse if we do not get involved, as we have seen in other areas of downtown.

So be there — this Wednesday, November 14 at 7 PM in the Third Floor Ellipse of the Main Library.  And bring a friend.

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