Soon, color will replace the black and white world we have been stranded in for three months.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?



These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.


Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Join FrOST for Earth Day on the Trails

Submitted by FrOST

Upcoming Event
****************************
Trek Sturbridge - Trails Day

Celebrate Earth Day: volunteer for our "3rd Saturday of the Month" Trail Day 
Your help improves our trails!
Bring gloves and work shoes; tools supplied.
We have a variety of tasks for all skills.
When
Saturday April 18th

8:00am – 12:00am
NOTE: If pouring rain, the event will be postponed until Sunday, April 19th, 1 PM to 4:30 PM.
Where
197 Leadmine Road 

Heins Farm
Take Stallion Hill Rd past OSV to Leadmine Road.
The parking lot is on the left, just past the top of the hill.
If you can’t join us this month, we meet every month. Our next Trail Days will be 5/16/2015 and 6/20/2015. Check www.sturbridgetrails.org for details. 














Join FrOST
The Friends of Sturbridge Trails is a not-for-profit group that helps support and maintain the trails in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. FrOST depends on memberships to support our wonderful Trail system.


The Friends of Sturbridge Trails and the Sturbridge Trail Committee announces “Earth Day” trail day event:
Trail Day & Earth Day: Celebrate Earth Day by volunteering for our first 3rd Saturday of the month" Trail day Saturday April 18th, 8:30 am to noon. Projects include everything from spring clean up/brush trimming of 5 miles of trails, trash and litter pick up at our trail head parking lots, sustainable trail tread improvements to tree planting for wildlife habitat and discontinued trail restoration.
Bring work gloves and water bottle, wear good shoes and clothes for the weather.  Pizza lunch at noon. 
NOTE: If pouring rain in the AM event will be post-poned until Sunday, April 19th, 1 PM to 4:30 PM. Meet at the Heins Farm Trail Head, 197 Leadmine Rd.


FrOST Thanks you!  
Contact treksturbridge@gmail.com if you plan on participating.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Sturbridge Tree Warden Notice: National Grid Emerald Ash Borer remediation program

Submitted by Tom Chamberland, Town of Sturbridge Tree Warden

The Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis), commonly referred to as EAB, is a non-native, invasive beetle that infests and quickly kills Ash trees.  EAB is now in Massachusetts and is expected to spread rapidly across the entire state in the next few years.  Ash trees that are killed by EAB dry out and fall apart quickly, becoming hazards to private homes and community infrastructure, including utility lines. 

National Grid has adopted a proactive approach to management of Ash trees near utility infrastructure that will facilitate greater coordination with local authorities and private landowners in the effort to locate and remove infested, possibly infested and otherwise declining Ash trees that pose a hazard to utility infrastructure.  Coordination of operations with landowners, communities, state and federal agencies and non-profit forestry and conservation groups will be critical to a successful EAB response from National Grid. 

National Grid's Forestry staff is currently working with the Town of Sturbridge Tree Warden to identify and remove declining and potentially hazardous Ash trees adjacent to critical utility infrastructure.  Remediation work is scheduled to begin in the next few weeks on the following streets: Vinton Rd, Shepard Rd, Wallace Rd, Fiske Hill Rd, and Podunk Rd.  National Grid's Forestry staff will be contacting homeowners where private property tree removals have been identified.  
Questions on this remediation program can be addressed to the Sturbridge Tree Warden, Tom Chamberland at: tchamberland@town.sturbridge.ma.us

Friday, April 10, 2015

Time For A Different Focus

I love the woods.  I grew up hiking, and wandering the woods in my hometown, and when I came to Sturbridge, I soon found myself amongst the pines again.

As I  said, I love the woods.

Sturbridge has done a wonderful job preserving the forest in which it resides.  Some may feel that we have spent too much on land purchases with little return other than preservation, and recreation.

Well, that was the whole point, and putting that preserved land to use for the community is an offshoot of preservation, and if done correctly

We have done well.  So many volunteers have preserved hundreds, and hundreds of acres in town, built and marked trails, and cared for them over the years.

The cost of our accumulating the now preserved land has been in the millions, and each time I pay my taxes I am reminded of the that financial sacrifice we agreed to make in order to insure that there will be forest, streams, marshes, and wildlife for our children's children.  I am thankful for that so much land has been saved, and I will suck it up about the cost thus far,  but, I'm done.

If there are groups that want to purchase large tracts of land here in town, then I am all for it, but no longer at my expense; there are other state run agencies, and private foundations that can be tapped to assist with the purchase.

Yep.  We've bought enough.  We have all we need, and now we need to concentrate finishing the work on the land we have already purchased.

So, where should we be headed if not in the direction of further land conservation?  How about attracting investment in our unique geography?  Business investments in our town that shares two interstate highways, several state roads, and a US highway that runs coast to coast is a no-brainer.

But how, and who would have the skill, knowledge, and passion to lead us in that direction?

Haven't a clue, but after the upcoming election, maybe those that are elected can work with those already seated in finding that person.  Sturbridge's location is a gold mine.  The taxes that would be generated, and the income produced for area businesses would be humongous.

Yes.  Humongous.

Thirty minutes to our south, on I-84, in South Windsor, CT are the Promenade Shops.  Dozens of high end stores set up in a town like setting that attracts thousands of shoppers from all over southern New England.  That is the type of shopping venue that this part of Central Mass needs, and we are just the location for it.

Shopping is not the only way to attract people to our area.  A music venue, or dance venue like Tanglewood, or Jacobs Pillow would be an excellent destination that would spawn a lot of other businesses as well.

Think about it.  I've said this all before, and this morning I'm just replanting the seed of inspiration again.

It's spring, time for sowing, and if done right, the harvest will be phenomenal.







Thursday, April 9, 2015

Common Sense

The idea of having parcels of land set aside for the use of others is an idea that has been around for a very long time.  Whether the land be used for the grazing of cattle, or training militia, or holding events for the common good, a central piece of land has always been important.  In New England, this land for common use is of historic importance.

Sturbridge Town Common
Each town would often have a small piece of land used for common purposes located in, or near the center of the town.  Here, in Sturbridge, a central common area was laid out in the very beginning of the towns existence.  It was designed specifically for the use of the settlers of the town to use for the a central meeting place, a burying ground, and open land for training of militia, and the grazing of cattle.

Over time, the function this common area for the towns people has shifted from agrarian, and military, the last military use of the Common was during WWII by troops stationed at the Publick House, to a central gathering place.  A peaceful place for contemplation, relaxation.  A spiritual place for weddings, and candlelight vigils.  A social place for fairs, food festivals, and concerts.

All of these activities are not only expected, but needed.  What isn't needed is the stress of such activities has on the common itself.


Recently, Tom Chamberland, the towns Tree Warden, warned that the trees on the common are being distressed to the point of their dying due to parking of vehicles on the grass.  Parking on the grass compacts the soil, and  the root system of the heritage, and other trees.  As a result, they begin to fail, loose limbs, become weak, and eventually become a safety hazard, and must be removed.

Tom has told the various Town Administrators over the years that parking on the grass for concerts, and other activities must stop, and that parking be only allowed on the pavement beside the common, and other parking areas in the vicinity, to no avail.  The result has been more trees that have died, or become so stressed that they had to be removed.  Last spring, two heritage trees, and one moderate growth tree were removed from the common.  At this rate of removal there will be no large three to four foot in diameter trees left on the common for our children to sit under with their children.

Time to change our behavior.

It is time an ordinance is written prohibiting parking of any vehicle on the town common, and only allowing vehicle parking on the roadways that surround the common, with the exception of Main Street, Route 131.  Parking for events can also be had behind the Town Hall, and, with permission, at the Publick House lots depending on the event.

This is  such a simple thing to enact, and to enforce.  Common sense not only validates it, but insists on it.  The cost would be for signs to be erected around the commons perimeter.  A fine should be imposed, and those fines would pay for the signs.

In the future, when the roads surrounding the common need to be repaved, a curbing should be part of the plan to prevent parking on the grass.

We need to act before the warm weather begins, and the use of the common goes full swing.

It's just common sense.




Monday, February 16, 2015

Winter Thinking


The backyard in Fiskdale.
am not going to state the obvious.  After a while one becomes either immune to those kind of observations, or excessively hostile, so I will just share my thoughts.  That's what I do.

Here I go.

What the hell is happening with our weather?!

Did I go to sleep in Fiskdale and wake up in Anchorage?  No, because they've only received 20 inches of snow this winter.  Is our weather permanently changing to this degree?  It will be mid June before the snowbanks at Stop & Shop are gone.

I wrote on Facebook this morning that I am thankful for much in life, and when Mary told me it was -8.7 f at 6:00 this morning I added indoor plumbing to the list.  I also want to add insulated gloves, and boots, ear muffs, Thinsulate ® in any garment, a car that will start on the coldest of days, ergonomically correct snow shovels, and snow blowers.  Snow blowers may not top the list, but my life has been made so much easier thanks to Arthur Sicard, the snow blowers inventor.

Our driveway is not that long.  Twenty feet from garage door to street, but it is double-wide, and one side runs up along the garage for another 20 feet.  Still, not a massive driveway.  The thing that makes our driveway a challenge is it is on Route 148, and the plow drivers take pride in keeping the road cleared from edge to edge.  This means more snow berms to get through at the end of the driveway, more often.  Now, the road might not be scraped to pavement like other roads in town, but it is wide.  The town also doesn't like to salt the hill coming up from Route 20 causing all sorts of havoc, but the road is wide, and our snow blower lives to clear out the front of our driveway a half dozen times each storm.

The mailbox is still standing.
I am not complaining at all.  This season our mailbox has survived the plow drivers wrath.  I marked the edge of our lawn with six foot orange stakes.  I am sure they have helped guide the plow.

This unprecedented winters snowfall has affected all of our lives in ways we could never foresee, and it is only February 16.

We had the house insulated this past fall, and so far we have been a lot more comfortable.  The other day I added some weather stripping strips along the front and side door.  They are a bit snug, and it is like popping open a Tupperware lid to enter the house now.  Which reminds me, I promised Mary I would adjust them so she won't have to throw her self at the door to get in the house again.

I say the last of the snow piles will be here through April.  Maybe a bit longer.  The next season will depend on sump pumps, and wet vacs.

Stay warm, and dry.