$300,000 carrot for neighborhood; PIP mitigation offered by city.


Byline: Linda Bock

WORCESTER - In response to the reopening of the People in Peril shelter at 701 Main St., City Manager Michael V. O'Brien is recommending the city spend $300,000 in physical improvements to the Main South area.

Mr. O'Brien's recommendations, made Monday night to the City Council and discussed again at a meeting yesterday, call for the additional resources as part of reinvestment plans for the neighborhood surrounding the triage and assessment center for homeless people.

South Middlesex Opportunity Council made the decision to reopen the PIP shelter after the City Council voted 9-2 in November to support putting the center temporarily - for no more than 12 months - at 701 Main St., the decades-long location of the PIP shelter until last February. The triage center was previously located at the former City Hospital campus, 12 Queen St.

Mr. O'Brien told community stakeholders at a meeting yesterday that the Worcester Police Department began providing enhanced services Dec. 1, when PIP reopened. Officers have been focusing on crime, disorder and quality-of-life issues, according to Mr. O'Brien. The cost for the additional police from Dec. 1 to Dec. 15 is $68,000. The estimated cost for 30 days is $136,000.

Both Sarai Rivera, the District 4 councilor-elect, and the woman she defeated, District 4 Councilor Barbara G. Haller, were at the meeting, along with about a dozen community activists, clergy and residents.

Manager O'Brien told the group the $300,000 would include new curbing, replacing missing or damaged light fixtures, sidewalk improvements and pavement markings.

About $20,000 in block grant funds has been allocated to storefront, facade and micro-loan projects in Main South, he said.

He is also recommending the creation of a Main South Neighborhood Stabilization Fund, using $100,000 from a separate segment of unexpended block grant funds. A portion of the stabilization fund will go toward a part-time outreach worker in the neighborhood.

"We can turn this into an opportunity," Ms. Haller said of the new refocus toward Main South. She said Main South residents have been promised things in the past that never quite materialized, and the stakeholders and city officials should keep reaching out to residents and business owners.

"More than ever, we need to reach out to them," she said.

SMOC had initially sought to put the center temporarily at...

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