News and events for the Greater Worcester Land Trust
Cascades East is 30.86 acres of woodland that had an interesting history long before GWLT was founded. To make sense of it, you need to look at the park that wraps around it: Worcester’s Cascades Park. Cascades Park is shaped like an “L” but started out as the rectangle making up the base of the “L.” This contained the falls that have been an attraction for as long as they have been known.
During the mid-1900s the upright rectangle was purchased by the City of Worcester. The area was on a long list of sites to be considered for a City landfill by the City Council, but it was at the bottom of the list. As the night wore on and site after site was rejected, they came to the end of the list and approved the site as a new City Landfill because they had no other options left. By the time the dawn broke and the paper was delivered, the neighborhood was already organized. A petition was circulating and calls were being made. This activism beat back the landfill proposal within the week. The park was protected and time moved forward.
In the 1990s, a development was proposed for what is presently Cascades East, progressing so far as to have built a driveway, parking lot, and a model home on the site. The site was also listed as a “Top Ten” critical open space for Worcester. When approached about purchasing the site for preservation, the developer’s price could not be met. Interestingly, the model home seems to have been built under a temporary permission or no permission at all. The utility lines weren’t approved and the development didn’t progress. The building was found in violation of Worcester city rules and its removal was ordered. This was as far as site development got. The developer of the proposal was incarcerated for unknown reasons, and a new window opened to preserve the land in cooperation with the owner. This, however, was only half of the problem.
While Cascades East was identified as a “Top Ten” open space priority, the City of Worcester and GWLT would have to apply for a state self-help grant three times to secure the property. Each time, the state overseer of the grant program looked at the land, acreage and location and found the project to be lacking merit. Each time the City and GWLT would refine their arguments, write a new proposal, and resubmit. On the third submission, the state overseer was convinced that this site was undoubtedly a priority for the people of Worcester, the Trust, and the City Administration whatever he thought of its merits. Forswearing other projects to continue to pursue this one and explicitly calling out this parcel as a community “Top Ten” open space priority prevailed.
This is a lucky outcome. Cascades East contains a state-certified vernal pool, a trailhead directly on Olean Street with a small parking area, a trail loop of modest length for people not looking to hike the length of the Cascades, and it secures the Eastern block of the Cascades as unbroken natural territory and wildlife habitat. The preservation of Cascades East and the Western side of Cataract Street also preserves the northern length of Cataract Street as a rustic cart path for walking. The Worcester Conservation Commission holds Cascades East and GWLT holds the Conservation Restriction on the property.
Thanks to the Holy Cross Baseball Team who jumped in and did great work out on the East Side Trail and larger trail system in Green Hill Park in Worcester!
Together the Team:
* Moved the spur trail sign on the hairpin turn;
* Trimmed back the spur from the skating parking lot to the EST along the soccer field;
* Repainted the Ghost trail blazes;
* Touched up the yellow spur blazes in several places in the middle of the trail network;
* Trimmed back the Ghost and Millbrook trails.
An Afternoon of Great Work!
The Worcester Telegram & Gazette is running a Selfie Scavenger Hunt that includes points for visiting The Cascades, Nick’s Woods, Green Hill Park, and Broad Meadow Brook. Get out there and earn your Worcesterite bragging rights!
We’d love to see your photos of being outdoors and enjoying GWLT lands. Send a copy of your favorite shots to firstname.lastname@example.org to be featured on the GWLT web site!
Those interested in attending should meet at 8:00AM and park at the trailhead at 139 Greenville Street, Spencer, MA (map).
On October 16th, GWLT will be one of the organizations hosting a Candidate’s Night for local City Council candidates at the Fire Alarm Building at 230 Park Avenue in Worcester (map). Come for a night of debate in a forum focusing on making a “livable” Worcester with plenty of earthy-granola questions.
If you haven’t had a chance to see the community room at the restored Fire Alarm Building, this is a wonderful opportunity. See you there!
If you are interested in attending we encourage you to park on Cataract Street by the bridge and hike down 0.05mi, or to park on Soheili Circle off of Olean Street, as the Olean Street parking at the trailhead fills up really fast.