Coes Park Dedication Cermony
By George Barnes
Telegram & Gazette Staff
Posted Sep 5, 2017 at 3:25 PM Updated Sep 5, 2017 at 7:23 PM
Coes Park playground opens as nearby Stearns Tavern gets another grant
When the Stearns Tavern in Coes Park opens in the spring, it will not only offer a peek into the city’s history, it will be a place enjoyed by people from all walks of life.
“This park and Stearns Tavern are meant to be fully inclusive,” said David A. Jordan, president of Seven Hills Foundation, which will manage the tavern and adjacent playground.
On Tuesday, at the grand opening of the playground - in the shadow of continuing renovations to Stearns Tavern - Mr. Jordan made special note of the city’s immigrant community, saying it is vital to Worcester.
“Ultimately we are talking about the lives of children who are going to enjoy a park that is going to accommodate everyone’s needs,” he said. “I look at this park as a unity park.”
With the city celebrating the inclusiveness of the playground in Coes Park, President Donald Trump’s plan to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration program was on the minds of some who attended the event. Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, on hand to announce a $300,000 Mass Works grant for the tavern project, said she and Gov. Charlie Baker are opposed to the president ending DACA.
The 205-year-old Stearns Tavern was moved to the park from 651 Park Ave. in October. It was placed on the site of the former Coes Knife factory, which was demolished by the city. The $300,000 from the state is on top of another $500,000 in grants from the state to move the tavern and renovate it, and to build the playground. The project has also received $800,000 in other contributions from various organizations in the city.
Lt. Gov. Polito said she was pleased the state has been able to help with the project.
“In this building you will be able to have the opportunity for people of different abilities to work and serve the public right here in this neighborhood, and for young children to be able to come and socialize and for families to get together and get to know each other,” she said.
Seven Hills Foundation will operate a cafe and will offer training in the tavern building. Mr. Jordan said they also hope to host musical and culinary events for the community.
The playground has wide paths and a comfortable rubber surface for people to walk on or navigate with a wheelchair. The playground equipment has been made as accessible as possible, including a teeter-totter that a person in a wheelchair can ride on with several other people.
City Manager Edward Augustus Jr. said the project was a long time coming.
“Over the weekend there were a ton of kids and families here,” he said. “I know this will be one of the most used facilities in the city of Worcester.”
The tavern was built in 1812 on Main Street and later moved to Park Avenue. District 5 Councilor Gary Rosen said that when people first approached him it was with the idea to make improvements to nearby Binienda Beach. The work on Coes Park now includes the historic tavern, one of the city’s oldest buildings, and the accessible playground.
″(The tavern) will probably be more popular and more useful in 2018 than it was in 1812,” he said.
Although the Coes Knife Co. factory was long ago demolished, evidence of it remains in the park, including the dam used to control water for the factory and five large grinding wheels on display next to the playground. Robert Antonelli Jr., assistant commissioner of the city Division of Parks, Recreation and Cemeteries, said the stone wheels were saved by the city after the factory was torn down, and added as decorative pieces when the playground was created.