We rejoiced to learn late Tuesday afternoon that the City Manager withdrew the proposal. Although there is surely more to this story than is on the surface, one thing is clear: the voice of city residents, outraged and articulate, was heard by our elected representatives.
Props to one politician for a gracious and thoughtful remark made in private: “Sometimes we get so caught up in trying to find the solution that we don’t realize we’ve become the problem.”
We will never know how many thousands of emails and calls poured into City Hall, but we do know that one Councilman said that he’d never heard so much on a single issue–including the tax rate. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who took the time to make sure their voice was heard.
Those individuals who can’t be thanked publicly know who they are, and how grateful we are for their behind-the-scenes help. But our public gratitude goes (in no particular order) to Jonathan Hardy-Lavoie, Jamie Burke, Bill Holmes, Tom Caywood, Nicole Apostola, Tim Jubanville, Colin Novick, Alex Zequeria, Kenneth Peterson, Noelle Grahamm, Nicholas Bazoukas, Amy Kalogeropoulos, Lisa Miller Kapacziewski, Heather Posner, Zoe Black, Sarah Lange, and Margot Barnet.
Next steps: help the Chandler Magnet PTO get the schoolchildren a playground. Work with our friends at the REC, Greater Worcester Land Trust, and other organizations to figure out how to improve and protect this property; we’ll be forming Friends of Chandler Magnet as a neighborhood group to do just that. Email us if you’d like to be part of any of these efforts. And always remember how people all over this city stood up for the preservation of open space and transparency in their municipal government.
An initial response to the City Manager’s final revelation of the complete plan for the sacrifice of this land. It’s full of bells, whistles, and distractions: swapping out one field for another, dragging in unassociated problems, pulling in highly fanciful sale values (absurdly low) and future contributions to the tax rolls (imaginatively high), blaming the School Committee for problems not its own.
This is not about auxiliary parking problems (for May Street and Chandler Street teachers) caused by Worcester State’s refusal to solve its parking problems on its own land. This is not about covering over an existing field at Rockwood with fancy, cancer-causing turf and calling it a win for residents–while more and more of our parkland is privatized by WSU athletics. This is not a shell game where one soccer field is traded for another, with empty promises about how much better this field will be.
This is about preserving open space and woodlands. This is about Worcester State being smart, like a university is supposed to be, and solving its own problems. This is about transparent governance (and that means you, too, City Councilors).
Those are qualities that truly benefit a city. They would ensure that all of our neighborhoods remain places that families want to live, with public schools where they want to send their children.
Electronic signatures are not anywhere as good as letters and telephone calls from voters. But to increase the weight of our message to the School Committee and City Council, please sign the Change.org petition.
If you’re interested in helping to gather signatures for the paper petition, please email us.
Did you know that to urban planners, the Chandler Magnet property is considered both active and passive parkland? Active parklands have specific purposes and maintenance needs, such as goal posts and field markings for soccer and football. Passive parklands preserve open green space, natural woodlands, and free play. This single parcel has both.
On Wednesday, April 1st, 6:00 PM at Chandler Magnet School, the City Manager’s office will hold a public hearing on this proposal. This is their chance to tell us why they think this is a good idea. This is our chance to present our argument for why it is not. Please come–and wear green.
The ball fields are only part of the 22-acre parcel that the City proposes to sell to Worcester State. The rest is made up of woodland and walking trails. That property extends to the lot that currently houses the home of the University President, Barry Maloney, meaning that WSU would then own a very large chunk of land for future development. These woods are home not only to the city residents who use the trails, but also to red-tail hawks, foxes, deer, and the occasional fisher cat.
Worcester State University wants to take over the Chandler Magnet ball fields–and turn them into a parking lot for its students.
These plans, which have been in the works for over a year, have been kept secret from the public. It has not gone on an agenda for either the City Council or the School Committee.