April 23, 2019

Downtown Worcester ambassadors to hit streets in May

Photo | Grant Welker
Downtown Worcester is planned for improvements ranging from streetside beautification to new marketing and events as part of the new Downtown Worcester Business Improvement District.
Evelyn Darling

Workers, residents and visitors to downtown Worcester will begin noticing so-called ambassadors on the sidewalks, who will be keeping the area clean and answering any questions.

They'll be the first visible signs of the new Downtown Worcester Business Improvement District, an initiative by neighborhood property owners to make aesthetic improvements, launch new marketing and help plan events.

Monday marked Evelyn Darling's first full day as the district's new executive director, coming on board at the same time the district has signed a contract with a vendor with broad experience with helping such groups. Darling said the district's top priority now is to work with the vendor, Streetplus of Brooklyn, on hiring its first ambassadors.

Hiring is taking place now, with a hope of having the first ambassadors roaming downtown sidewalks in mid-May, Darling said.

The best example of ambassadors may be in Downtown Crossing in Boston, a neighborhood with a much larger improvement district where ambassadors in bright orange shirts can be seen sweeping sidewalks or handing out brochures. Worcester will have fewer ambassadors than Boston, but Darling hopes the crews will be a welcoming presence helping anyone with a question about where to go in the neighborhood.

"It's exactly what we have in mind here, except on a smaller scale," Darling said.

Worcester joins other business improvement districts across the state, including in Hudson, Hyannis, Springfield and Taunton. Worcester's 78-acre district is centered around the Worcester Common, extending at least a few blocks in each direction.

Beyond the ambassadors, other aspects of the improvement district will take shape over a longer period of time. New street banners hanging on light poles are now under design, and plans will be underway soon for new signs to point visitors to the right places and public art to make the neighborhood more visually appealing.

"We're committed to working with all stakeholders in the area to bring a more vibrant district," said Darling, who grew up in the Chicago area but first came to Worcester to study psychology as an undergraduate at Clark University.

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