By Laura Porter
Gary Rosen is running unopposed for a second two-year term as the City Council representative for District Five in Worcester.
“It’s my first time being unopposed,” he says. “Less stress! I’d like to think this means people are satisfied with Gary Rosen.”
He is no stranger to Worcester city politics. A former high school chemistry teacher who taught at Doherty High School in Worcester as well as Wachusett Regional High School in Holden and West Boylston High School, he spent six years on the City Council as a councilor-at-large and ten years before that on the Worcester School Committee.
“I think I’m the only one on the School Committee and on the City Council who has been both an at-large and district representative,” he says.
His years of service, however, have not been consecutive.
“I took some breaks,” he says. “There should be term limits for everyone from the President down to the School Committee.”
Raised in Worcester, Rosen grew up in the “old Beth Israel,” the stone facade on Pleasant Street where the Conservative synagogue was located before its move to Jamesbury Drive in the early 1960s. (Congregation Shaarai Torah now occupies the Pleasant Street building.)
After his bar mitzvah, he chose not to pursue Hebrew high school, opting to focus on his secular studies instead.
Though he doesn’t consider himself religious, “I know I’m Jewish and I’m proud I’m Jewish,” he says. “You don’t have to be religious or belong to a synagogue to be Jewish. I support Jewish interests and I support the state of Israel.”
Reflecting on the recent changes in the Worcester Jewish community, as well as the drop in synagogue attendance nation-wide, he says, “Who would have ever guessed that Temple Emanuel would not be there? We went past it every day of our lives, and it was always THE Temple. Things do change over the years and people change, too.”
(Temple Emanuel, at 280 May Street, integrated with Temple Sinai in June 2013. The May Street building was sold to Worcester State University last spring.)
On the City Council, Rosen’s most recent focus has been the improvement of the Coes Pond area on Mill Street. Once a popular swimming spot, the water is unsafe or recreational use and the beach is overgrown.
Approached two years ago about bringing the pond back to life, Rosen has supported efforts to work on the beach as well as to rebuild the bathhouse.
“We are working with college students to clean up the weeds,” he says.
In addition, work is ongoing to turn Coes Knife Park down the street into a multi-generational, universally accessible park and playground.
As part of that effort, the early nineteenth century building, Stearns Tavern, currently on Park Avenue, will be moved to the park to become the indoor center. The move both enhances the Mill Street area and preserves a part of the city’s architectural history.
“It’s exciting,” he says. “The whole Coes area is being brought back slowly but surely.”
As Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Youth, Parks and Recreation Committee, Rosen is also involved in an evolving master plan to create a dog park in Worcester.
“Next year is a possibility,” he says.
When it comes to the city at large, he stresses that public safety and public education are vital.
“They are so important to the future of our city.”