Institute Park is a community resource and a true jewel to the city of Worcester. It is surrounded by a vibrant mix of residential, institutional, and commercial properties. The Park’s history as the headwaters of the Blackstone River Corridor, as well as its use for summer concerts and other civic gatherings has allowed thousands of residents from Worcester over the years to benefit from the Park’s tremendous natural attributes. The principal objective for the master plan is to establish a strategy that will serve as a catalyst for making long-awaited improvements to what is perhaps Worcester’s finest urban park.
The historic connections between WPI and Institute Park date back to the late 1800’s when Dr. Kinnicutt, a member of the faculty at WPI inspired Stephen Salisbury III, an important community benefactor of WPI’s campus, with a grand vision for a boulevard system that would encircle the City of Worcester and connect a network of public parks. Salisbury gave the city’s parks commission 17 acres of land that were part of his family’s farm. This new park, an important part of the overall open space network for Worcester, was envisioned by Salisbury as an asset that would make lasting contributions to Worcester.
Over the years since the creation of Institute Park, thousands of city residents have enjoyed the park for its visual beauty, programmed activities and events, and as an outdoor laboratory for various engineering training exercises. The Park’s neighbors have always been respectful of the fact that Institute Park is a resource of the City’s parks system and have taken great care to assure that the passive enjoyment of this resource is balanced with the scheduled program uses of the park.
Neighbors of the park including members of Friends of Institute Park, Inc. (FIP), a non-profit organization established to benefit and improve Institute Park, and the WPI community have accepted the responsibility to work with the City to make sure Institute Park is a safe and well cared for resource. This master plan is one example of the desire to support the stewardship of Institute Park.
Institute Park has the opportunity to be one of the most utilized parks in the City of Worcester. It will become the destination point for countless visitors from Worcester and surrounding cities. Shepley Bulfinch has teamed with the City of Worcester, FIP, WPI, and other community stakeholders to develop a vision for the master plan of Institute Park that will enhance the Park’s physical characteristics. The proposed master plan will not radically alter the program elements of the park. Instead it will improve physical characteristics, enhance resources, and maximize the public benefit.