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Park benches go up for adoption; Palmieri pushes for express train.

Byline: Nick Kotsopoulos

Improvements to the newly renovated Blithewood Park include a new playground, fencing and accessible walkway upgrades to the park.

The park's gazebo also has had extensive upgrades, including a new roof, repair of worn boards and a complete repainting. The project cost approximately $350,000.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Tuesday night for the newly renovated Blithewood Park.

The Grafton Hill Neighborhood Association helped design the park improvements.

As a follow-up, the neighborhood is raising money to buy additional park equipment, such as picnic tables and more swings, along with other general park improvements.

Mike Testa, president of the Grafton Hill Neighborhood Association, said one of the fundraising efforts is to give people the opportunity to "adopt a bench'' within the park.

He said there are 10 benches in the park and each can be adopted for a contribution of $2,000. A plaque will be placed on each adopted bench above the park logo with an inscription indicating the sponsor, family or individual who adopted it.

For more information, contact Mr. Testa at testa01604@yahoo.com or Margaret Cappabianca at LCappabianca@aol.com.

The Worcester Regional Association of Realtors has received a $2,500 "Place-making Grant'' from the National Association of Realtors to help revitalize a veterans memorial monument in Worcester's Greendale section.

Place-making grants are awarded to local and state Realtor associations to help them and their members fund projects in the community. The grant will go toward restoring the black granite eagle monument on West Boylston Street that was originally envisioned in 1948 by George N. Jeppson, a Norton Co. official.

Mr. Jeppson helped to organize a committee of local businesses to donate toward a memorial for all veterans. Community subscriptions were also successful and Mr. Jeppson contacted Carl Miles, an American citizen of Swedish birth to create the memorial.

The silken black granite eagle is perched on a round globe, representing the world. With time and neglect, however, the eagle monument is in need of a facelift and Realtors in Worcester will be restoring the area with landscaping, benches, flowers and a plaque commemorating the monument. District 1 City Councilor Tony Economou, who is also a member of the Realtors group, said "Realtors live, work and volunteer in their communities and take immense pride in working to improve these neighborhoods.''

With a new company now overseeing the MBTA's commuter rail services, District 2 City Councilor Philip P. Palmieri is making a new push for express train services between Union Station and Boston.

On July 1, Keolis Commuter Services took over the management of the state's commuter rail system, replacing the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Co., which ran it for 11 years.

Mr. Palmieri, who has been unhappy over the lack of progress made in getting express trains between Worcester and Boston, is sending a letter to the local legislative delegation and Richard A. Davey, secretary and chief executive officer of the state Department of Transportation, to initiate discussions about the matter.

With the MBTA poised to make track upgrades between Worcester and Boston, along with purchasing 40 new locomotives and 75 passenger coaches, the councilor believes now is the time for the city to push for more express train service.

In his letter to the local legislators and Mr. Davey, Mr. Palmieri said he is encouraging them to meet with City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. and Mayor Joseph M. Petty as soon as possible to discuss a timetable for the expanded service.

"I can't emphasize enough the importance of having express train service,'' said Mr. Palmieri, who is running for state representative in the 15th Worcester District. "Commuter rail service will really flourish in Worcester if people can get to Boston in about one hour by train. That will also make Worcester that much more attractive for economic development.''

The councilor said he would eventually like to see as many as five or six express trains going from Worcester to Boston daily. There are 17 stops between Union Station and South Station in Boston. Not all the trains make all those stops, though those that do can can add three-quarters of an hour to the entire trip.

Some of the other trains, so-called "express trains,'' do not make stops after Framingham or Natick; those trips runs roughly 75 to 90 minutes.

Mr. Palmieri said he believes the trip to Boston could be reduced to just an hour if there were trains that provided nonstop service from Worcester.

Contact Nick Kotsopoulos at nicholas.kotsopoulos@telegram.com. Follow him on Twitter @NCKotsopoulos
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Title Annotation:Local
Author:Kotsopoulos, Nick
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Geographic Code:1U1MA
Date:Aug 8, 2014
Words:758
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