January 1, 2017

Editorial: Past, present and future, hard work is Worcester’s heartbeat

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A work ethic, a good heart and a promising future — that’s our city.

As the world tacks the 2017 calendar to the wall, there’s no question that Worcester has positioned itself well. Rarely flamboyant or one to shout out its praises, the city sticks to an old-fashioned formula of trying to do things right with what it’s got.

And, what it’s got is a lot.

In the current climate of political upheaval and uncertainty, we’re thinking especially of the city’s assets that have long held true but don’t necessarily meet the eye.

A key one is diversity. Here in Worcester, we have ethnic diversity, income diversity, lifestyle diversity and all ages well represented, from people with deep family roots to a large and always changing college student population. Residents represent a huge range of ambitions, talents, career paths and ideas.

We are better for this daily opportunity to see all sides of life, and in a city small enough to feel an important part of it.

And we have a city with the resources to rise up and meet it all. Worcester is rich with outstanding educational institutions. It has excellent healthcare organizations and cultural venues, and a thriving creative streak, exemplified by last night’s 35th annual First Night festivities. We have competitive businesses, innovative local startups, a smorgasbord of great restaurants, a coalescing transportation hub around Union Station, and a burgeoning sports scene set to bring the Worcester Railers HC ECHL minor league hockey team aboard later this year.

Wikimedia Commons

Union Station

More Railers in the Sun:

We have places to get away from it all, too. Dogs will, too, with the debut of dog parks expected this year, with the first two coming in the spring to Beaver Brook and Vernon Hill parks. Thanks to decades of efforts by the city in conjunction with environmental and neighborhood groups, Worcester boasts numerous open spaces.

The city’s revitalization efforts of the last two decades or so, focused on downtown, have proceeded with care and foresight — and represent huge investments of money and belief in the city. The cityscape, particularly in the downtown core, has changed dramatically, all with a view to ready Worcester for the future.

In turn, because of upgrades to the downtown coming or already in progress — a key piece being more housing, which will help provide the essential “feet on the street” piece planners talk about — more people are will theoretically be drawn to downtown and the city.

We live, in short, in a city that works.

We may take the work ethic here for granted, as we do the city’s impressive diversity, but it’s part of what drives us forward. Worcester has been a workhorse since its industrial heyday of the mid- to late 1880s, and early 1900s.

Wikimedia Commons/sdokaf

WPI’s Beech Tree

Meanwhile, educational institutions have long helped set Worcester apart as a place of learning, often with a practical bent. Today, bioscience and its various offshoots are among endeavors in research and manufacturing that help keep that legacy going.

Our city’s diversity not only adds vitality and interest; it adds stability, and naturally encourages tolerance and understanding. Of course, Worcester is a long way from perfect in this or any other regard. As we have said before, we encourage the city to renew some form of the dialogues on race held during the violent summer of 2015.

Worcester has its share of the common problems of modern urban life. Unemployment here is relatively high. The dual tax rate frustrates businesses in particular. Law enforcement struggles against crime and drugs. There are too many underperforming students and empty storefronts, too many who are hungry, homeless, addicted or otherwise need help.

From an urban aesthetic standpoint downtown still has litter and loitering, and a lack of enough destinations and affordable things to do that would help draw people in and make Worcester’s core come alive.

Related editorial: For downtown, safety is central issue

The city’s shortcomings and problems are all part of the to-do list for 2017.

But we strongly feel, and believe many others agree, that Worcester is worth it. The city is loaded with attributes old and new. It’s a wonderful place to call home and keep working on.

Worcester’s foresight and hard work to position itself for the future is paying off. The future is here. We at the Sun wish this diverse, hardworking, honest and interesting city of ours a very happy and productive new year!

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