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Worcester Awarded $25,000 Grant to Focus on Quality of Life Downtown

For Immediate Release: 11/3/2022 9:45 am

WORCESTER – The City of Worcester will receive a $25,000 Massachusetts Downtown Initiative (MDI) Technical Assistance grant from the state to create a quality of life amenities plan for Downtown Worcester.

The City applied for the grant with the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development in collaboration with the Downtown Worcester Business Improvement District (BID), which will oversee this Downtown Worcester Quality of Life study.

With the funding, the City of Worcester and the BID will work with a team of consultants to collect quality of life data from the Downtown core, expand upon research and best practices of similar urban communities to identify solutions to some of the prevalent quality of life issues, and develop of a comprehensive plan to address issues within the Downtown Worcester Business Improvement District.

“Worcester’s revitalization is fostering new business development, as well as residential and recreational amenities. At the same time, the city is facing quality of life issues that are typical within burgeoning urban centers,” Acting City Manager Eric Batista said, adding that he is thankful for the state choosing to award Worcester the grant. “Working with our partners at the Downtown Worcester Business Improvement District on the Downtown Worcester Quality of Life assessment will help us better understand the needs of our community and develop comprehensive plans to support all populations downtown.”

“Our ongoing partnership and collaboration with the City of Worcester, most notably through MDI’s Rapid Recovery Plan (RRP) program, demonstrate our effectiveness in working together to support Downtown Worcester’s recovery and growth,” said Downtown Worcester BID Board Chair Julie Holstrom. “Developing solutions for quality of life issues is the BID’s top long-term LRRP priority, and we are well posed to lead this project.”

The main objectives of the Downtown Worcester Quality of Life study are to:

  • Identify key issues downtown, including access to basic necessities for all populations
  • Develop a coalition of public and private sector stakeholders
  • Create a prioritized implementation plan to service all populations in the Downtown district

The assessment is expected to include seeking recommendations for a permanent public restroom model and a location(s) that can serve all members of the community, potentially coupled with targeted social services.

As part of the BID’s quality of life agenda, the BID’s Downtown Worcester Ambassador team has been working diligently since 2019 to clean the District’s sidewalks on a daily basis. Ambassadors have been collecting data to document the types of waste found during cleaning operations, the areas most affected, and how often these areas need to be addressed. In 2021, that data informed where to install dog waste stations and cigarette disposal receptacles throughout the District.

“Addressing quality of life issues within Downtown Worcester is paramount to attracting and retaining businesses, growing the residential population, and attracting visitors to support our local economy,” said Evelyn Darling, Executive Director of the Downtown Worcester BID. “Downtown redevelopment and the BID’s active role in beautification and placemaking efforts have transformed the area; however, the COVID-19 pandemic identified a growing number of quality of life issues that must be addressed in an accessible and equitable manner to sustain momentum.”

“All our Downtown neighbors and visitors deserve access to resources and amenities that can help them have fuller, healthier, more enjoyable lives,” Batista said. “The City of Worcester is open to all suggestions and solutions that may result from the Downtown Worcester Quality of Life assessment, and we are committed to taking necessary steps to deliver tangible results for our Downtown community based on the project’s findings.”

The Downtown Worcester Quality of Life project is expected to begin in late 2022 and be completed by summer of 2023.

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