Worcester, the host city for the Ma Smart Growth Conference, is Massachusetts’ second largest city and pretty pumped with a 500 million investment in their ‘city square’ area. The city invested 8 million dollars into their ‘streetscapes’, including a skating rink. “10,000 came out for themed skate nights!” I’ve heard skating rink wishes mentioned once or twice in Gloucester: discussions pro I4C2 or somewhere on Middle Street (“a scene nearly Currier and Ives!”) and why isn’t the O’Maley skating rink used by the students? “We used to use it for gym? It’s an amenity right there.”
Other conference talks focused on investment in public space and public health. Worcester aims to earn the distinction Healthiest Community in MA by 2020. They have the first and only accredited public health department so they’re investing in a core culture. The conference speakers spoke about housing, planning, walk-ability, return of multi-generational family households, and diversity. Millennials say: “Where do I want to live?” and then go. Their parents’ said “Where is the job?” and relocated. We were told many times that millennials are different than boomers: they don’t like traditional offices and buildings for work. They would rather walk, bike or commute by train. Ideally their life radius would fall within one mile, a neighborhood scale. How does that affect consolidating schools vs neighborhood schools and other debates ensued.
From a planning perspective: “Does the investment action help to encourage sprawl or does it invest in your community?”
The session “Is Housing a Municipal Budget Buster” was led by Mayor Donna Holaday of Newburyport and panelists included former Gov. Glendening and Umass Dartmouth Director of Public Policy, Michael Goodman. Most questions went to Mike Hogan, who gave a talk about Oceanspray’s residential venture in Plymouth, Redbrook Village. Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce brought him here to speak to our communities a couple of years ago. He said to say hi to Peter Webber.
The second session I attended focused on arts and planning and was led by artist (ceramicist) and planner, Jennifer Erickson with Kenneth Bailey, Design Studio for Social Intervention (D24SI) and others. A projected slide loop featuring model national art projects scrolled continuously. I was so caught up in the briefs that I nearly missed one picture from Gloucester: the monumental Parsons Street mural by James Owen Calderwood. Congratulations James!
Cruz Ferreras took the photograph during a block party; there’s a Cape Ann Art Haven painting in progress and kids leaping. Since that photo, street lighting and more art was added, a second monumental mural, painted by children, under the direction of Cape Ann Art Haven. The Gloucester Fish Net mural was a temporary commission that is lasting because the road is primarily used for walking. (Also, the artist painted it over a second time, and widened it.) With funding, Cape Ann Art Haven art center or an individual artist like Jason Burroughs (who assisted James Owen Calderwood) could re-paint the mural. With funding and fresh sealcoating, we could issue a Call for a new work of art. There are several more walls along Parsons Street that could be a wonderful matrix for murals, or the streetscape for a dance or theater production.