Posted by Jeremy Shulkin
Your live coverage is here. Mine begins in this space somewhere around 7:00. Tonight’s meeting will most likely be a short one, unless the councilors really like talking about HOME grants and sewage.
7:12: Party time. Lukes is in the tall chair tonight. Paul Clancy isn’t here. We’re starting with a proclamation: Worcester England and Worcester, MA have strong ties, and the Worcester Academy chorus is traveling there as “music ambassadors.” They’re singing “Adieu, Sweet Amaryllis” for us.
7:19: M.O’Brien is talking youth jobs. John O’Brien of UMASS Memorial Health Care is the chair of the Youth Opportunities Office. M.O’Brien says since 2007 the office has leveraged over $4 mil to support youth opportunities in the city. Haller says when John O’Brien came to Worcester no one knew he would “redefine” the opportunities for youth in the city.
7:23: Palmieri praises John O’Brien too, and his effort to aid at-risk youth in the community. “He is for our community more than anyone could ever expect.”
7:25: Petty thanks O’Brien and the youth task force. He also thanks Dennis Irish for fronting the money to start the program (not personally).
7:27: Smith “looks forward to continued successes and more opportunities” for Worcester’s youth.
7:27: Toomey says “you can’t believe how impressed I am.”
7:29: Rushton is impressed we have a “real long term plan,” and notes all the other players helping O’Brien with this report and in the Youth office.
7:30: Palmieri says he received a call today from Leonard Ciufredo (sp) to invite everyone to the March 23 meeting regarding CSX and commuter rail. “There will be lots of questions.”
7:32: Palmieri brings up CitySquare, complaining “we’re always hearing we’re almost close.” He wants M.O’Brien to give us an update. M.O’Brien says “the community’s been very patient with the megaproject…affected by the global recession.” He says there’s been a private transaction, and he’s respecting that. He says “milestones have been reached.” He says a purchase and sale agreement has been reached between Hanover and Berkeley to develop parcels and is set to close “no different than closing a home.” Berkeley will retain the parking garage and two existing towers. CitySquare 2, LLC (Hanover) is doing the demolition of the mall. Lease terms have been reached, and letters of intent are set. He’s “very pleased with the progress.”
7:36: Palmieri wants to know if we’re so close that the next step is a groundbreaking ceremony. Lukes rephrases it as “you want to know if this is real.” O’Brien describes the milestones as “complete” and groundbreaking is the “logical progression of where we stand today.” He says the city is watching forclosure processes reported in the Telegram in the site very closely. He says Hanover has gone to great lengths to make this succeed.
7:40: “The cat’s out of the bag!” says Rushton. “CitySquare is here!” He calls this a major relief and brings up Murray wanting it knocked down. He says Berkeley is moving away from this project, but it took them to stand up and get this going. Rushton calls this “version 2.0” and it’s a “much healthier version of Worcester” because it’s now a local project. “We’re going to start seeing this 18 hour city become a reality.”
7:44: Now he’s talking CSX. He wants to make sure that construction happens with the surrounding areas respected. He says Wyman-Gordon’s 14 acres are off the market, and BJ’s is moving closer. He wants a report on ways to capitalize on development in the area.
7:46: He says in Gateway Park Kavanaugh and WPI have gone their seperate ways. He wants development to continue. He wants to know what WPI’s plans are there.
7:47: M.O’Brien says WPI is now looking at scenarios where there’s no need for a development group like Kavanaugh. He’s optimistic that progress will continue at Gateway.
7:48: Petty congratulates the manager on CitySquare. He wants a detailed report (or as much as there can be about two private companies) about the transactions.
7:53: With Clancy not here, Petty takes the tall chair as Lukes moves to the floor. Lukes says she was “disturbed” that this project was not negotiated with the interest in the city, which led to her eminent domain queries a couple weeks ago. She says this is huge progress, and the fact that there’s no press conference or photo ops means it’s real and they’re taking it seriously. She calls Hanover a “real white knight.” She says Worcester has a lot going on now, economic developmentally speaking, and the admin and those who stepped up to the plate are to thank.
7:56: Smith says the first thing about this project that makes him excited is jobs. The second thing is jobs too. “This is going to be a major boost for our local economy”, expand the tax base, and help alleviate unemployment.
7:57: Eddy says he, like Lukes, has been waiting for the end result and was expecting fireworks and balloons. He says jobs are important, but this is important for the “psyche and morale” of the city. Eddy says it takes two to dance–they’ll praise Hanover tonight, but they have to remember that “our friends on the hill over at Unum” have a lot to do with it too.
7:59: Eddy would like a step-by-step timeline of when each step will take place tracking the progress. He says that since these Econ. Dev. reports only happen once a quarter then the next one is in June. By then he’s hoping there’s more written about the Airport and its transfer to MassPort.
8:01: Germain says congrats to the admins, and thanks to Unum and Hanover. Germain brings up the psyche aspect too. He says there’s been a lot of negative comments, but all we need “is the wrecking ball” to bring one building down and change the psyche.
8:03: Toomey acknowledges the perseverance of the admin. She wants to know about what’s going on behind the Walgreens on Chandler st. No one seems to know. There will be a report.
8:04: Palmieri says he believes Hanover wouldn’t have come in without M.O’Brien. He says it’s critical there’s a connection to Worcester’s East side through CitySquare.
8:05: HOME program details sent to Econ. Development committee.
8:06: Rushton wants to talk about sewers. “I just think it’s awesome” says Rushton, about how West Boylston and Holden will be affected by this, and Worcester too. He says backups won’t be a problem anymore. Lukes calls this a “collective hallelujah.”
8:08: Petty wants to remind everyone Woogle for Google runs until the 26th. People should do it themselves on the Woogle site, and apparently it’s on the city’s site too.
8:10: Wow. We’re done.