CWW: Worcester Chamber Music Society Free Family Concert

Highly recommended — note that this was packed last year — so try to get there early!

Sergei Prokofiev PETER AND THE WOLF

March 2, 2014, 3:00-4:00 PM Mechanics Hall, Worcester Massachusetts
Open admission, tickets and reservations are not required

A perennial favorite for children of all ages, Peter and the Wolf is a favorite introduction to classical music.  WCMS performs the Worcester premiere of local composer Serena Creary’s Thomas and His Imagination. Visit the “Art Gallery”  where there will be a display inspired by the music, created by the students at the Woodland Academy.

Receive a $2.00 discount coupon at the door for admission to the ECOTARIUM. Bring a new or gently used book to be donated to Reliant Medical Group Foundation’s Reach Out and Read program and be entered into a drawing to win a free family membership to the ECOTARIUM. Reception treats by CocoBeni Confections and Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts.

WCMS is committed to educating audiences of all ages. Our family concerts offer an opportunity for families with young children to experience the beauty and excitement of classical music together. We strive to make these concerts accessible to families who would not otherwise have the opportunity to attend.

Also this weekend in free classical music: piano master class with Simone Dinnerstein; more info here.

(Image: Peter and the Wolf, a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic licensed image from Dave Bleasdale’s photostream.)

New Head Librarian

I haven’t been paying as much attention to the search for a new head librarian as I would have liked.

I will put a disclaimer on this post that I will likely repeat again: while I serve on the board of the Friends of Worcester Public Library, the opinions below are mine and mine alone, and do not reflect those of my beloved Friends:

Worcester Magazine and the Telegram [$] both report that the Worcester Public Library board has appointed a new head librarian, Christopher Korenowsky.  (Here’s an interview with him when he became head of the New Haven Free Public Library, a position he resigned from last month.)

Korenowsky will be the fourth head librarian WPL has had in as many years.  I do not want to be writing a blog post next year that says, once again, that it would be great to have a head librarian who lasts more than a year and a half.

The Worcester Public Library is at a stable spot at present, but the head librarian faces numerous challenges in the coming years.

While we will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Frances Perkins (Greendale) Branch Library on Friday, we should not forget that of the three branch libraries Andrew Carnegie laid the cornerstone for in Worcester in 1913, only one — FPBL — is still actively used as a library.  Main South branch is now condos; Quinsigamond is now part of the school.

While we do have three other branches — Great Brook Valley, Roosevelt, and Tatnuck — and another (Goddard) scheduled to open in April, Roosevelt, Tatnuck, and Goddard (as well as Burncoat, whenever that happens) are sponsored by private entities for a period of three years.  Whether those private entities will continue to sponsor those branches after that period is something that should concern the head librarian, as well as an increased emphasis on outside organizations (through PILOT and donations through the Worcester Public Library Foundation) on funding what should be operational expenses (Sunday openings, branch libraries, etc.).

While all this is going on, there are also the larger questions of the relevance of the public library in our world, what services the library should provide to patrons, and how the library can continue to be a resource for all of us.

All of this gets interrupted when we don’t have steady, committed leadership — on the city side and on the library side.  Let’s hope we get a new city manager who’s committed to library services, and a new head librarian who can stick around long enough to see some of this stuff happen.

Dog Park Hearing – this Wednesday

The City Council’s Youth, Parks and Recreation Standing Committee will meet to discuss the proposed DOG PARK at Green Hill Park this Wednesday, February 26 at 5:30pm in the Esther Howland (South) Chamber at City Hall.

You can find more details about the proposal here.  The proposal to have two enclosed areas –one for smaller dogs and one for larger dogs — was one of the last proposals from DPW&P Commissioner Moylan before he retired.

I’d like to see safe places for dogs to walk and play in the city.  Right now, there is no park in the city where dogs are allowed, even on-leash, even on the Common.  Dogs cannot technically be walked downtown (unless they live in the immediate vicinity).

But if you’ve lived in the city more than a few minutes, you know that many folks bring dogs to parks (sometimes even off-leash); that an area owned by the city has become an unofficial dog park; but that those who are trying to follow the law have limited options about where they can safely (and legally) have their dogs exercise and play.

As we’ve often seen in the city, it’s easy to take the initial step to ban something, and much harder to enforce the ban.  In the case of dogs in parks, there has been little ability to enforce it, and nowhere to direct people to take their dogs within the city.

Other communities (within the Commonwealth and around the country) have successfully implemented dog parks.  We should learn from their experiences and create from them a plan that will work for Worcester.

If you’d like the city to continue (well, begin) a conversation about dog parks, you need to:

We have created a Facebook event for this.  If you are on Facebook, please join the event & invite your friends.

You can also join the Facebook group for Friends of Worcester Dog Park or follow on Twitter for more updates.

16 days and counting

Update: a few hours after this post went up, our street and the surrounding streets had their recycling picked up.  Unfortunately, the folks who follow the rules & brought their recycling in the previous night would not have had their stuff picked up. 


If anyone’s curious to see what two weeks of ignored recycling looks like, here’s a sample:


Recycling wasn’t picked up on Wildwood Avenue and surrounding areas on Thursday the 13th; there was some snow that afternoon, so the oversight might be forgiven.  The next scheduled pickup for that area was yesterday, the 21st.

Wildwood Avenue and environs was ignored once again yesterday — not sure if Casella’s experiencing a backlog, but we had no notice that it wouldn’t be picked up.

What will three weeks’ worth of recycling look like this coming Thursday?  Stay tuned to this blog to find out!

City Manager Listening Sessions – update for D5 meeting

We now have three listening sessions scheduled:

Wednesday, February 26, 6:00 p.m.
Unitarian Universalist Church Hall, 90 Holden Street
(District 1)

Wednesday, March 5, 6:00pm
Central Branch YMCA, 766 Main Street, Board Room
(District 4)

Wednesday, March 12, 6:00 pm
Eager Auditorium, Sullivan Academic Center
Worcester State University, 486 Chandler Street
(District 5)

These meetings are an opportunity for the general public to provide input into the process of selecting a City Manager. The Committee shall conduct a total of five listening sessions; one in each of the five City Council districts.

There is also a timeline for the city manager search that was proposed last night and will be discussed at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting; you can read about that a bit more here.

Past meetings:

Thursday, February 20, 6:00pm
Worcester Senior Center, 128 Providence Street
(District 3)
Worcester Mag coverage; Telegram coverage

Janet Sprague,




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City Manager Listening Sessions – update for D4 meeting

We now have three listening sessions scheduled:

Thursday, February 20, 6:00pm
Worcester Senior Center, 128 Providence Street
(District 3)

Wednesday, February 26, 6:00 p.m.
Unitarian Universalist Church Hall, 90 Holden Street
(District 1)

Wednesday, March 5, 6:00pm
Central Branch YMCA, 766 Main Street, Board Room
(District 4)

These meetings are an opportunity for the general public to provide input into the process of selecting a City Manager. The Committee shall conduct a total of five listening sessions; one in each of the five City Council districts.

Walking the Walk

As of this moment — snow notwithstanding — two of a possible five Municipal Operations Committee meetings have been scheduled:

Thursday, February 20, 6:00pm
Worcester Senior Center, 128 Providence Street

Wednesday, February 26, 6:00 p.m.
Unitarian Universalist Church Hall, 90 Holden Street

I will direct the readership to Dianne Williamson’s column today, “Worcester City Council: Land of let’s pretend“, as that summarizes everything I feel about this “process”.

Since Mike O’Brien announced he would be leaving the post of city manager three months ago, the only movement we’ve had in finding a new city manager has been hiring some dude who spoke at a library event and scheduling a couple of meetings.

I’m all for public participation.

It’s certain members of the City Council who have demonstrated, time and time again, that they do not care for public participation.

If they cared about public participation, the name “Ed Augustus” would not have been sprung on a nearly empty chamber with no warning.

If they cared about public participation, we would not have had to fight for a forum at the beginning of Council meetings to give folks the chance to speak for a scant two minutes to their elected officials.

If they cared about public participation, they would have a clear plan in place outlining what they will do with public input and when they will actively start looking for a city manager.

Councilor Palmieri said at a recent City Council meeting that he would have hoped the city would have sent an “email blast out to everyone.”

Cities with seven hills weren’t built in a day.  And neither is real community engagement.

If we had had a City Council that honestly wanted to have a real conversation with the community before this, then perhaps we could have had listening sessions for citizens to attend, and an online forum for constructive conversation, and come together to talk about the big issues.

But that’s not how our political system works.

We instead treat our elected officials as glorified DPW Customer Service reps, and vote for our favorites.

We have City Council Standing Committees devoted to stop signs, speed limits, and sidewalk repairs.  Rather than letting professionals be professionals, we have meetings to discuss who gets their street paved, and perpetuate the myth that you need to know someone in high places to get anything done.

This is why nothing can get done: the leaders have created a system whereby they only pay attention to the trees and never see the forest.

When we have meetings about real issues, like slots parlors, citizens suddenly find that they are interrupted by their elected officials, or else are ignored by them.

Either you want to hear from us or you don’t.  And by your previous actions, I’m guessing you don’t.

The three people who immediately rose to acclaim Ed Augustus as the anointed one are those who were part of the gang who got rid of Tom Hoover in 2004: Joe Petty, Rick Rushton, and Phil Palmieri.

I don’t recall being asked for my input on that personnel decision, or any of those three councilors holding that item so that the public could have input.

This is a Council that has had the same criteria for evaluating the city manager for years (though they don’t seem to be able to remember what that criteria is).  They already know what they want.  They have asked for it and seem to have gotten it.

Don’t ask if you’re not honestly interested in having a continuing conversation with citizens.

Don’t ask if you’re just going to treat us as idiots the next time we testify in front of you at a City Council meeting.

And, for goodness sake, don’t ask if the only purpose is a delaying tactic so that the whole city can love the one we’re with for an extended 3-5 year contract.

Because there’s really no excuse for not starting the RFP process for an executive search firm now, while we’re listening, so that they’re ready to go by the time we’re finished listening.