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City Leaders Missed the Boat on Students’ Park Plan

October 11, 2018

I know it is a done deal, but I cannot stop thinking about the failure of our city leaders to see value in the Abolitionist Park on Day Street, as proposed by more than 40 young people from Mount Wachusett Community College under the guidance of David Thibault-Munoz.

They carefully researched the Abolitionist movement in Fitchburg (one we should all be proud of, by the way) as well as an appropriate way to make residents and visitors aware of Fitchburg’s role in the Civil War. They wanted to honor the residents who contributed to the movement. One of the most prominent was Benjamin Snow and through this research, they found city-owned property located within the boundaries of Benjamin Snow’s land -- property which once included an apple orchard. Perfect site for a Pocket park! Honoring the man right where he lived!

Unfortunately Snow lived in the Day Street area. I say unfortunately because evidently it is not an appropriate place to have someone memorialized. The students were told it should be on or nearer Main Street where it would be visible, or better yet, memorialize Benjamin Snow on Green Street with Joanna Fitz. Guess I can’t get my head around that -- Mrs. Fitz deserves her rightful place near her home, as Benjamin Snow deserves his.

Why not Day Street? It is as much a part of our city as Coolidge Park, Coggshall Park, the Art Museum or the Historical Society. I am tired of hearing about it being out of the way, or that it is not a safe place for a park. Has anyone considered that if there is a pleasant place to visit on the street, residents just might take pride in it? If a place is run down and the owner doesn’t take an interest in its upkeep, nobody will.

The Day Street property appears to have been pretty much unloved for a long time. Besides, with two abandoned houses on my street, that attitude scares me. These student planners have promised to develop and maintain the park. Their plan even provided parking spaces for residents. Didn’t they at least deserve a chance to show what they can accomplish?

From what I hear, these thoughtful young folks have not given up. At the very least they have received a civics lesson they will never forget. I salute, support, and thank them!

SIMONE BLAKE

Fitchburg

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