Saturday, March 15, 2014

Douglas and Worcester: Coming Along

A ride around Worcester was fairly impressive. I drove up Main Street, around City Hall, down towards WPI Gateway, and then back down by the DCU Center and I like what I saw. It seems as if there is some decent energy in the city. Some spaces are opened up for people to gather and I noticed that the city has a rather good number of statues in it. It seems as if the place is on the verge of becoming a vibrant downtown area. I hope so. We've been waiting for years. I suspect there is a decent City Manager to oversee the urban planning. All seems to be coming together well.

Even the area surrounding the College of the Holy Cross is being transformed. The 146 corridor to the city with the Massachusetts Turnpike connector has brought in some business to South Worcester.

Quinsigamond Village always puzzled me. It is so close to the College and yet it never seemed to cater to college students. I sense it is being connected now. Most universities have neighborhoods that are upgraded by their proximity to a closed market, but the Village hasn't quite done that yet. I think the city is waking up to its potential.

I've always been partial to Worcester's west side, but now I think the city is beginning to take itself more seriously. It deserves to do it for its citizens.

Side note: I love driving in the U.S.A. I am impressed by the many people who obey the traffic laws. Following the laws feels good and it makes for a more pleasant life. I enjoyed following the traffic rules for the sake of the common good.

My family of origin lives at Wallum Lake Terrace and in many ways it is a depressed area. It keeps itself as a private association so that the residents of the town cannot use the private beach. Fair enough, but the Terrace holds itself back. Virtually all the roads are unpaved and many of the houses are cape summer rentals that have been converted to year-round dwellings. It could be a beautiful resort area if it would simply join the town and receive town services. It pays taxes, but cannot receive plowing or road repair work.

My guess is that if the Association decided to join the town, a fine restaurant would open with a view of the lake. Also, a small market would serve the quick needs of the two hundred households that live at the Terrace. Property values would rise as well and beautification of the area would become dramatic. It could be marketed as an enclave community, with walking paths, sidewalks, and other municipality services to make it a desired residential area. Instead, it looks tired, worn down, and overgrown. Why do people intentionally hold themselves back.

Douglas is composed of two towns: Douglas and East Douglas. Douglas is completely residential and will likely remain that way, but East Douglas is the center of life for this community of 8,500. However, the town has no services. You have to travel out of state or over to a neighboring town to go to a pharmacy or go to a hospital. The center of town has three pizza shops. Why three? Diversify.

To its credit, it has a restaurant called the Pickett Fence, which is quite good. It has a bustling business and a rapid turnover of customers. I sense that people want to go into town for more variety of food. The small coffeehouse just a few hundred yards away also does a brisk business. Traffic on a Saturday morning is non-stop. I remember when you could count the number of cars that passed through town in a hour during a weekend morning. Now, it is non-stop. I think the town is on the verge of demanding more for its citizens rather than remaining a sleeper's community. It needs freshness brought to the town.

The Pickett Fence has six tables for outdoor service, which is great. People need to see others enjoying themselves and taking leisure time in public. The Mumford River runs through the center of town, but it is not seen as a town treasure. As an town planner, I would erect a wooden pathway on each side of the river for walking enjoyment. It is a great natural resource to have, but it is not respected as such.

I hope it takes a leap forward. The town managers have to open up the town for the sake of its people. I'm sure the populace will one day elect new leaders who can bring the town forward.

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