By Michael D. Kane The Banner
BOYLSTON — Could the space in the town center be dedicated to the memory of John “Jay” Corcoran in 2014? That’s what the Board of Selectmen has asked.
Commonly known as the Center Courts, the School Street park, across from the Old Burial Ground, is home to basketball and tennis courts. Selectmen are moving forward with a plan to seek townspeople’s approval to dedicate the park to Corcoran, a former Boylston native and Tahanto graduate who was among the first American citizens to die on September 11, 2001, when a terrorist flew a passenger plane on which he was traveling into the World Trade Center in New York City.
Corcoran was, by many accounts, a popular student athlete. Soon after the new Tahanto building had been approved by the state, friends sought to have the gymnasium in the new school named in his honor. The School Committee rejected the idea, and later affirmed that decision, offering instead to create a memorial wall to all deceased Tahanto students.
Last year, the group asked the Board of Selectmen to petition the state to name one of the trails behind the school, where the track team runs, after Corcoran. While those efforts are still ongoing, the results are not expected to be favorable.
Town Administrator Martin McNamara said the initial response from the state Department of Conservation and Recreation is that the request would be against department policy.
McNamara, on Jan. 6, told the board he is still working with state Representative Harold Naughton Jr.’s office. However, the board has turned its attention to town-owned land, should the state reject the idea. Among the ideas are the Center Courts, which, while not ideal for Corcoran’s friends, would still acknowledge Corcoran’s athleticism, Selectman James Wood said. Corcoran was a star basketball player at Tahanto.
The park is in the town’s Historic District, which would require public hearings before the Historic District Commission on its appropriateness prior to town meeting. However, selectmen have said they are not proposing any change of current use. The plan would be to place a small memorial, possibly a plaque or statue, somewhere on the property, Wood said.
Currently, a plaque on the property commemorates the Boylston Consolidated School, which replaced six individual, single-room school houses from various locations in town in 1904. The building was razed in 1957.