Editorial: For downtown Worcester, safety is the central issue

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There’s little doubt that Worcester is on a roll these days when it comes to reshaping its downtown, with multiple projects aiming to raise the city’s profile and enhance its quality of life.

Witness the ongoing transformation wrought by the $565 million CitySquare development. Worcester’s 20-year, $104 million urban renewal plan to revitalize dozens of properties in a 118-acre swath of downtown is worth cheering. The Hanover Theatre expansion, several new hotels, an infusion of college quarters and recently launched non-stop commuter rail service between Union Station and Boston are also commendable points of progress.

But all of that shiny infrastructure loses its patina — and purpose — if potential visitors, workers and residents don’t feel safe on our downtown streets.

To put it more bluntly: Why does it seem most other cities’ central attractions are essentially free from strife or personal danger, while Worcester seemingly can’t get a handle on violence, literally, at its very core?

A new restaurant will soon inhabit 551 Main St., next to the Hanover -- but will diners feel safe?

Sun Staff / Worcester Sun

A new restaurant will soon inhabit 551 Main St., next to the Hanover — but will diners feel safe?

The most unnerving recent example was the sight of Hanover patrons, arriving for the family-friendly show “Shrek the Musical,” scrambling for cover as gunshots pierced the air near the world-class theater less than two weeks ago. Whether it was fallout from a repeat of violent confrontations at the Latin American Festival on the nearby Common is beside the point — new-to-Worcester visitors attending either of those events will rightfully think twice about spending any more of their time — or money — in our city.

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2 thoughts on “Editorial: For downtown Worcester, safety is the central issue

  1. I have said this is the central issue for Worcester for years. I am often asked my opinion since I renovate numerous units in the area and create positive impact to neighborhoods. Quality of life is diminished by not only every event , but the perception and feeling of fear or discomfort every time you are passed by a feuding pair of druggies, asked for money, a person in a whacked out state barely able to stand (or not) etc. These instances are not limited to downtown and often leech into the college neighborhoods as well. Why don’t graduates want to stay here? Is it just lack of jobs??? The atmosphere is often uncomfortable in these areas yet these instances stated don’t result in a reportable incident, no crime numbers to refer to, just plain uncomfortable. Shiny new buildings aside, if this doesn’t get better, it will always hold us back from the true vision everyone hopes for with this downtown resurgence.

  2. If more people are using the downtown area for its wonderful new happenings, the police will have to beef up their numbers in the area. Four or five 2 officer foot patrols in the area would make a huge difference. Don’t leave them out there by themselves; they need their partners. It makes it hard to throw false accusations at a partnered officer. Foot patrols make store owners happy; foot patrols make visitors feel welcome and protected. Everyone would love foot patrols circling their neighborhoods, but the downtown needs them more than any others area. As the heart of the city goes, so goes the city. So cut the police force a break. You all have to look out for each other and do what is best for the city. The city was dying. Everyone needs to help finish the resuscitation.