Notes from last night’s D3 Open Space Meeting

If you have comments about what should be included/mentioned in the Open Space plan, including any properties you think the city should look at acquiring, email, subject line: Open Space.

There is also one more meeting in this round of comments — this Thursday, February 14, at 6:30 pm (because we all LOVE parks) at the Beaver Brook Park Community House on Mann Street.


Mary from Friends of Cookson

A couple employees from MassAudubon (including Paul Dell’Aquila)

Ron Chiras – Holy Cross neighborhood, along with a couple of other HC neighbors

Gerry Powers from WalkBike Worcester

Colin Novick

George Russsell

Kate Toomey

A few other people I missed

Summary of what we have heard to date:

Possible new acquisitions
Better hours for ice skating at the Common
Need for more pools
Need for more soccer fields
Need for a dog park task force
Community garden demand exceeds supply
School fields help meet use demand, but are often in poor condition
Questions about what Master Plan Projects and what Capital Improvement Projects are in the queue?
Questions about bathroom availability and management policies at various parks
Invest more $$ into bike trails and land protection
Improve access to certain open space assets
Continue to undertake important ADA upgrades throughout the parks and open space system
Include protected species and historical resources in inventories and mapping
Consider turning tax title land and empty lots into parks and open space
Consider establishing greenways, complete street approach and recognition of street tree planting imperatives
Create new linkages between open space assets
Ensure appropriate funding for park maintenance
Continue focus on creating safe park environments
Expand opportunities for exposure to arts and culture events within park settings


Colin: Two things to highlight on D3 map: state’s Blackstone Bikeway should be included; also, where Blackstone River exits the city – may be under the ownership of the state.


Gerry: after plan is submitted to the state, what is public process during that period of time?

Answer: would not regularly have meetings like this; particular concern or issue should be referred to the Parks Commission.  Also, City Councilors or Parks Department.

Gerry recommends a yearly status meeting to discuss look back at previous year/look ahead at coming year.

Don Courtney – what happened at Vernon Hill Park – for a season and a half Babe Ruth was not able to use it – [response: the issue there has been address].   When landfill was moved to back part of Green Hill Park, there were promises about a walking trail, but it was turned into the Tech School ball field.  [response: they have first right of refusal].  It took 30+ years to do that.

Don Courtney, continued – changing the field for Vernon – does not like it.  Greenwood Street landfill [response – capping material is being shipped currently].  Feels like these things take a long time to happen.  It will take a long time to accomplish these goals.

Response – discussion of funding issues delaying some improvements, acknowledging long time in

Courtney – are the issues at Babe Ruth corrected?

Response: weather-dependent, need more pieces of netting.

Courtney: will it be ugly netting with long wooden poles?

Response: yes

Courtney: what about Logan Field?

Response: Logan is different – soft ball versus Babe Ruth’s hard ball; also, fast pitch soft ball – more of a fast pitch field, for those purposes it did not necessitate same amount of netting.  Further reiteration of need for netting.

Courtney – waiting for first time netting rips and the long time it will take to fix it.  He also says that the wooden poles/netting looks really ugly.  He doesn’t feel that it would take more effort to move the backstop where it was.

George Russell discusses the people on Ames Street who were being battered with balls are probably appreciative of the nets.  But also says the design is horrible.

George Russell talks about the Blithewood playground being a safety hazard.

Response: March 20 scheduled for Grafton Hill Neighborhood Group for discussion of Blithewood situation.


Mary, discussing Cookson – Friends of Cookson Park is a group that wants to follow master plan.  The master plan for Cookson is to keep it a passive park.  They oppose any change in meaning or incompatible uses, including a dog park.  [much discussion against dog park at Cookson.  You don’t need to read all that.]

Interested in adjacent smaller parcels that would preserve the view and would be difficult for a developer to put something on.

Ron Chiras, HC neighborhood association – nothing has been done on the park since 1936. There is land around the park – off Malvern Road, not designated Cookson Park, that is owned by the city.

Questions about how to authorize that as park land – Council order.

Colin – mentions that other members of the public talked about a formal process for tax title properties to go to parks and conservation before liquidating the properties.

Colin – possible missing open space: arc of land off of McKeon that was supposed to be part of visitors center, should be under article 97 – but north of the river, there are no neighbors.


[A lot of intensity about not putting the dog park in Cookson; again, you can thank me for not making you read this.  The Cookson master plan is on the city website.]


Russell – wants to know if there is a plan on the table for Cookson.  Rob says there was, and it has since been taken off the table.


Lady says she says she has a friend in the Netherlands who has a dog park right next to her and there are no problems.


Joe C. – two parcels were added to a ConCom parcel on D2 via tax title.  There are still a couple of parcels in the neighborhood that could still be used.  Currently, development proposed, approved in 2009 – unclear what’s happening with that.  There’s another parcel owned by the city between Ayrshire and Anna – fronts on the brook, fantastic if we could move that into ConCom’s hands.


Gerry – Hope Cemetery/St. John’s – would make a nice walking trail.

Response: it might be tough because of the grade (and where the graves are).


Colin –currently the conservation commission doesn’t have a conservation agent.  Someone who would be contacted about the properties that are owned, who you’d work with if you wanted to schedule a hike.  Right now, there is no point person for that.