College Announces Partnership to Help Create Park Near Campus
Published: Friday, February 28, 2014
Updated: Friday, February 28, 2014 12:02
On Thursday, February 20, Holy Cross furthered its commitment to the development of Worcester during a press conference at Quinsigamond Elementary, promising to support and contribute funding to the revitalization and creation of the Worcester/Blackstone Valley Gateway Park and Visitor Center. Holy Cross is collaborating with the Department of Transportation, the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Center, the Department of Conservation and Recreation, and city officials in this initiative to develop a 450-acre park and 10,000-square-foot visitor center near the College’s campus. The entire project’s estimated cost is around $14 million and should be completed by the summer of 2016.
This project’s visitor center will house and be run by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation Central Regional Office. It will feature exhibits, classrooms, offices, meeting spaces, and a theatre.
The Blackstone Valley Gateway Park, adjacent to the visitor center, will include bikeways, sidewalks, and a bike spur to connect with the Blackstone River Bikeway, linking Worcester to Providence. A walkway along McKeon Road will also be constructed to connect Holy Cross’ campus with both the nearby shops and the park.
Kathleen Halligan, ‘16, said, “I am so excited to have a bike trail within walking distance of campus. I can’t wait to use it once the weather gets nice!”
In addition, John Anderson, interim director of government and community relations at Holy Cross, and Donna Williams, chair of the Blackstone Valley Corridor, announced a joint collaboration to fund a coordinator position for the development of the Visitor Center, a position that will be dually housed at both Holy Cross’ campus and the Corridor’s offices.
John Anderson said, “We look forward to the development and growth of this exciting initiative—and are delighted to play an active and engaged role.”
“We are truly grateful for the dedication of so many to forge a remarkable partnership that will design and build this long planned-for center. It promises to be not only a gateway to the Blackstone Valley and to Worcester, but also the centerpiece for the revitalization of Quinsigamond Village. The synergy of the visitor center, the Blackstone Bikeway, and the Blackstone Gateway and Middle River Parks will create a tremendous beehive of activity and learning for residents, students, and visitors alike,” said Donna Williams, chair of the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor.
This most recent partnership is one of many projects Holy Cross has become involved in, as the school focuses on building goodwill within the community and improving the quality of life as a whole in Worcester. Holy Cross is also in collaboration with the city, local businessman John W.S. Creedon Jr., and the Future League to have summer baseball played once again at Fitton Field. Finally, Holy Cross is involved in a 5-year, $400,000 investment to support the Library Express, a state-of-the-art mobile library serving Worcester schools, neighborhoods, and community centers.
Lauren Buhrer, ‘16, said, “I think it’s wonderful that Holy Cross is making such a positive impact on the community. It’s very important to have a strong relationship with the Worcester residents.”
Devon Kurtz, former director of education at the Higgins Armory Museum, is the marketing coordinator for this project, and his duties will include leading the programming, design, and promotion of the Visitor Center along with instructing the development and utilization of the site.
The entire group is excited to share in this endeavor with him, given that “his combined education/curatorial philosophy results in exhibits and programming that comes alive through the visitor experience,” said Williams.