WORCESTER – Even on a blustery Wednesday afternoon in December, the field behind Chandler Magnet School had a couple of visitors.
A few people walked their dogs around the big field, which is set up with a few backstops for baseball or softball, and some soccer goals in the middle. A runner did laps, alternating running and walking.
Residents in the city can be quite protective of their neighborhood parkland and open space. A proposal to redesign Duffy Field to accommodate modern playing fields ran right into neighborhood opposition; they have said they like the park just how it is.
And advocates for Newton Hill at Elm Park have taken issue with the city’s position that a strip of the park behind Doherty Memorial High School is fair game to use as part of the high school replacement project.
So it was not a surprise this week when at-large Councilor Gary Rosen used extreme caution when broaching the idea of making improvements to the field behind Chandler Magnet.
“I don’t want to do anything there if people don’t want that,” Rosen said.
The field is under the jurisdiction of the public schools, Rosen acknowledged. But his order, which several councilors endorsed, asks City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. to reach out to the school administration, neighborhood leaders and other interested parties to see if there’s support for giving the old field a modern update.
The last time the field behind Chandler Magnet received any attention, it was on the chopping block to become a parking lot to alleviate parking concerns in the Worcester State University area.
That was the first many people had ever heard of the field, but neighborhood opposition to the plan quickly prompted the plan’s withdrawal. Rosen said at the time, neighbors who opposed the parking-lot plan mentioned they would like to see improvements to the field, but nothing ever came of it.
District 5 Councilor Matthew Wally co-sponsored the order, and at-large Councilor Khrystian King and District 1 Councilor Sean Rose both said they supported the idea of more recreational opportunities for city youth, and both appreciated the sensitivity of including interested parties in the discussion. Rosen said the neighborhood would be involved at every step of the process.
“If all the neighbors say no, it’s our field of dreams now and we don’t want it touched – we’ve heard that before, then OK,” Rosen said.
• The City Council held a mini-election Tuesday to elect three members to the Library Board of Directors. The board voted Anne O’Connor and Matthew Noe to terms running through 2026, and voted Roseann Fitzgerald to a term running through 2023.
O’Connor, a longtime city lawyer, has been serving on the board since 2015 and sought another term. Fitzgerald is a fundraising researcher in the advancement office at the College of the Holy Cross, and Noe is a librarian at Harvard Medical School who also teaches library science courses at the University of Kentucky, and promotes the use of “graphic medicine” comics that use the artform to teach medical students about empathy and sympathy.
This article originally appeared on Telegram & Gazette: City Hall Notebook: Proceed with caution on Chandler Magnet field, Rosen says