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Broad Meadow gets land from Ball family; Trails will honor smiley face creator.

Byline: Dominic Mallary

WORCESTER - Trails between the Broad Meadow Brook Conservation Center and Wildlife Sanctuary and the Blackstone River Bikeway will be marked with bright yellow smiles, a gesture to the late Harvey R. Ball, the hometown creator of the familiar smiley face and whose family sold a 15-acre parcel of property to the city this week.

Yesterday, the city, along with The Massachusetts Audubon Society, unveiled the Harvey Ball Conservation Area with a luncheon gathering at the sanctuary's Massasoit Road conservation center.

The conservation area will bridge the gap between two of Worcester's most popular outdoor recreation areas, the Broad Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary and the Blackstone River Bikeway, with walking trails.

The Blackstone River Bikeway, which currently runs from Millbury Street to the center of Millbury, is planned to eventually link Worcester and Providence with a bike path.

"No land is ever really protected by any statute, it is protected by the people who care about that land," said Robert W. O'Connor, the director of land and forest conservation for the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

"When you look at everyone who cares about this land, you can be sure it will be protected for years to come," O'Connor said.

O'Connor, along with City Manager Michael V. O'Brien, was a key figure behind securing the $500,000 grant from the state Department of Conservation Services that made the purchase of the Ball property possible. The remaining $250,000 was raised through Audubon Society fundraising and a matching contribution by the city.

"This is one of those projects we have had our eye on for a very long time," said Deborah D. Cary, the director of central sanctuaries for the Audubon Society. "The city has stepped up to the plate big time."

Though pre-existing trails dot some of the new conservation area, work on the new trails has already begun. Cary said she expects that the trails will be completely marked and accessible by next summer.

Other speakers included Mr. O'Brien and U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Worcester.

Relatives of Mr. Ball, including his sister Virginia and his son, Charles P. Ball, who negotiated the sale of the land, also attended the event.

"Harvey would be so pleased," said Ms. Ball. "It couldn't have been used in a better way."

ART: PHOTO

CUTLINE: From left, City Councilor Kathleen M. Toomey, City Councilor Michael C. Perotta, U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern and City Manager Michael V. O'Brien watch as City Councilor Gary Rosen and Broad Meadow Brook Director Deborah D. Cary unveil a plaque designating the land as the Harvey Ball Conservation Area.

PHOTOG: T&G Staff/BETTY JENEWIN
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jun 6, 2007
Words:444
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