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2002-2003

WPI and City of Worcester Roll Out Visioning Process

Plans Include Building Sustainable Development into Worcester Planning and Offer Additional Intellectual Capital for City Planning Efforts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/January 29, 2003
Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

Worcester, MA - January 29, 2003 - Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), the Worcester City Executive Office of Neighborhood Services and the Worcester Smart Growth Forum announced the results of a recent consortium, Envisioning Worcester, as the kickoff to a planning partnership delivering $1M in intellectual capital to the city through WPI's Worcester Community Project Center. This announcement coincides with the hiring of City Planning Director Joel Fontane, taking office January 27, 2003.

WPI, supported by the Greater Worcester Community Foundation, worked with Worcester-area stakeholders at a recent Envisioning Worcester planning session. The program, held at WPI, encouraged participants to work toward a goal of creating sustainable development programs for the city. Sustainable cities have managed growth and planning to transcend the cycles of economic hard times, facilitating a long-term sustainable economy, positive social factors, affordable housing, and environmental health. Examples are Burlington, Charlotte, and the Borough of Merton in London.

"Planned development considers a community's social, cultural and natural resources; takes responsibility for its ecological footprint and invests in activities that promote the benefits of a prosperous economy," said City Manager Thomas Hoover.

"The City of Worcester, like many other small cities, is beginning to realize that achieving economic prosperity, maintaining community integrity and preserving high quality natural resources are the keys to a sustainable City," said Mayor Tim Murray. "We must proactively manage growth rather than merely let it happen."

The Envisioning Worcester consortium, held in September 2002, included input from a wide range of supporters throughout the region and kicked off a visioning process that incorporates the opinions of representatives from economic, social and other groups with a stake in Worcester's future (https://www.wpi.edu/News/Conf/EWF/participants.html).

"WPI students, over a period of three years, will provide additional intellectual capital to support the Planning Director's efforts to implement sustainable planning practices and programs," said WPI President Dr. Edward Alton Parrish, "We look forward to making a significant contribution to the success of that effort."

In addition the Planning Director will be hiring a Staff Planner, a new position created by the city designed to support the planning effort.

"With the intellectual capital provided by WPI and the new Staff Planner position, the Office of Neighborhood Services will be better equipped than ever to create and support a long-term plan to develop a robust future, both long and short term for the City, with a set of guidelines from which the City can frame its ongoing and future projects," said Paul LaCava, Assistant City Manager. A complete map of "the New Worcester" will be released periodically as the planning progress develops.

"The progress of Worcester and its evolution has been of great concern to our residents and neighbors. Part of the problem has been a lack of resources for our city's planners. This new relationship allows the City to tap the intellectual capital available from WPI and its planning and engineering departments, giving us a great push forward," said Hoover. "The new Planning Director has significant experience in the planning processes on both the local governmental and the consulting levels; he has the energy and vision - and now the resources - to bring Worcester into its next iteration," Hoover continued.

The WPI assistance will be made available through the WPI Worcester Community Project Center (WCPC). The Center was made possible through the generous support of The Greater Worcester Community Foundation, The Stoddard Charitable Trust, The Fletcher Foundation, the Ruth H. and Warren A. Ellsworth Foundation, the Mildred H. McEvoy Foundation, and the Hoche-Scofield Foundation.

The WPI-led Visioning Process has tremendous support throughout the City. "People here have a sense of belonging, a sense of community, and a strong history of innovation and enterprise. I applaud WPI for moving the issues of sustainable development forward and recognize the City administration for making this important commitment to achieving a sustainable vision for Worcester," said Michael Creasey, Executive Director, Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor. "This is our opportunity to continue what our ancestors started. It is our obligation to come together and carry forth a unified vision for Worcester."

"We at ARTSWorcester are most appreciative that City Manager Hoover has made a commitment to enhancing the City's planning capacity and look forward to working closely with Mr. Fontane as we work to implement the Arts District Master Plan which will truly reenergize and revitalize this historic neighborhood," said Ruth A. Penka, Executive Director of ARTSWorcester and Chair of the Arts District Task Force.

"We at the Main South CDC are delighted to see that the City has hired a qualified candidate to fill the vacant Planning Directors position. One of the Directors' immediate challenges will be to facilitate a cooperative coordinated approach to City planning and development functions," said Steve Teasdale, Executive Director, Main South CDC. "The resources now available to the Planning Director will make this task more manageable and move the City toward a unified vision."

About WPI's Global Perspective Program

The Worcester City Project Center (WCPC) is part of Worcester Polytechnic Institute's Global Perspective Program through its Interdisciplinary and Global Studies Division (IGSD). This program was designed to provide engineering, science, technology and management students with an opportunity to experience working on real-world projects either on or off-campus. These programs enable students to learn how to solve real problems, while exemplifying WPI's mission of combining theory and practice. In the program, students are partnered with a business or organization hailing as far away as Bangkok or as close as Worcester, in both the public and private sectors, with universities, hospitals, museums, municipalities, and tourism bureaus: any place where the application of their knowledge is deemed useful. Students accepted to the program spend one term (seven weeks) setting up the project and spend the next seven week term at the project site.

Worcester Polytechnic Institute's first project center was set up in Washington, D.C. in 1974. Today, the university has over 20 global project centers in 13 countries, with six foreign exchange programs. In addition to the original site in Washington, D.C., project centers are located in Worcester, Ma.; Hong Kong, Peoples Republic of China; Bangkok, Thailand; London, England; Melbourne, Australia; NASA's Goddard Space Center (named for former WPI student Robert Goddard) in Greenbelt, Maryland; Limerick, Ireland; San Josť, Costa Rica; Venice, Italy; Zurich, Switzerland; Wall Street, New York; Nancy, France; Madrid, Spain; Copenhagen, Denmark; San Juan, Puerto Rico; North Haven, Connecticut; Boston, Ma.; Windhoek, Namibia; and Silicon Valley, Ca.