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?
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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