Autumn in the North Cemetery.

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

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

This is Not a Good Idea. In Fact, It's Just Silly

Last evening I was reading in the Telegram how MassDOT would like to take a portion of Route 20 in Sturbridge, and Brimfield, and alter the lane configuration by excluding lanes.  They propose downsizing the roadway from four lanes to two in order to add turning pockets and a bike lane.  This would stretch a little over four miles from East of New Holland Road to west of Galileo Drive.

Blue route is the area that is to have traffic lane reconfiguration.


As I read the article on my phone I stood up, and screamed, "OHMYGOD!!  Don't let them do it!!" Scared the cat to death, and as of this morning she has yet to show herself.

One of the biggest design mistakes ever to hit any department of transportation was the idea of taking away a lane of traffic and designating it for left, or right turns only.

Why?

Well, it if a road was initially designed for four lanes of traffic, two one way, and two the other, it was because the traffic flow dictated it.

Four lanes flows smoother than two, and when it comes time to take a left turn across oncoming traffic one just has to wait.  Simple.  And, when one has to take a right turn, one just does it when it is safe to do so.  The whole waiting-our-turn-to-turn thing takes under a minute, but on average just a few seconds.

Now, a turning pocket allows a driver to pull to the side, out of the way of the traffic behind him so as not to hold them up, and still wait their turn to make a turn.

Hmm. The only thing that they are gaining is getting out of the way of the traffic behind them, and not holding them up, but they will unless the the lanes a kept at the same number, and the turning pocket is ADDED to the lane configuration.  This configuration works great in front of the Hobbs Brook Plaza on eastbound Route 20.

When one takes away a lane to facilitate easier turning it leads to a bottleneck.  The drawing below is of Route 20 in Charlton at the intersection of Route 169.  I have been trapped in traffic heading east in this area from Sturbridge for an hour.  For one mile west of Route169,  until just after the Route 20 / 169 intersection it has taken me anywhere from twenty five  minutes to one hour to travel on my way to work.  Now, there are a couple of factors that play into this delay.  Most times I take it when the turnpike is bogged down, and it is barely moving.  If is a recent delay, then my delay on Route 20 will be minimal, but if it is a long term delay on the Pike, then everyone else is thinking like me, and we are stuck in this debacle of poor planning which I have scribbled below.

Whether there are traffic problems on the Mass Pike , or not, Route 20 should be free flowing at all times, and man made obstacles should not be part of the equation.  Yes, traffic will run at a slower speed now, and again, but is should not be at a standstill on a regular basis.  Cutting back to only one lane of east bound traffic in order for only a few cars to turn right onto Route 169, and creating a bottleneck of traffic that stretches far beyond Zorbras Restaurant far to the west is a design born in the mind of a silly person.

There.  I said it.  A silly person.  I know, strong language, but well deserved.  And, to take the silly design even further, the designer kept the lane configuration at one lane even further east on Route 20 to allow vehicles to make a left turn at the next light.

At the light.  This is the very reason why God gave us traffic signals with little green arrows pointing left.


The Route 20 / Route 169 Traffic Bottleneck

I can't complain, or make a seemingly negative observation, without offering a suggestion that may be able to fix the issue, and this time is no different.  I'll keep it simple.


Remove the "turning pockets", and paint the appropriate directional arrows on the pavement like other intersections on Route 20.  And, as far as those vehicles wanting to turn left where there are no intersections, well then, you will have to just wait your turn.  Simple.

I know that a vehicle wanting to turn left should not have to wait long to do so, and that it would be better for them to be pulled over a bit, but not at the expense of taking away a lane of traffic.  Add the turning pocket to the existing configuration.

Now, there is one other traffic design solution that is worth considering, too.  In Wells, Maine, among other places, along Route 1, there are three lanes.  The outer lanes are for traffic, and the center lane is for turning to the left.  Traffic from either direction uses the middle lane, and it works.  I imagine they use it here because land on either side of Route 1 is scarce for making an additional lane.

A few years ago I wrote to MassDOT on their website, and mentioned the issues on Route 20, and 169.  

I never heard from them.  Go figure.

This time, I know Craig Moran, and the other selectman will make themselves heard to MassDOT, and maybe, just maybe, someone from MassDOT will read this as well.

With all the traffic the Route 20 sees, especially during Flea Market season, it would be plain silly to alter the traffic configuration from what it currently is unless the number of lanes remained the same.

There, I said it again.  Silly.  








Friday, December 4, 2015

Have I Got A Deal For You

Well, we did it.  We bought a new home in Sturbridge.  After a number of years of searching the local area for the right home that checked all of our boxes we finally found what we were looking for right here in town.  We are beyond happy.  No only did we find a home we like, but we found it in town.

When we found what was to become our new home last spring, and we needed to make a decision on whether to go for it before we sold our home on Brookfield Road, or wait.   If we went on the side of caution, and waited to sell then the house we found would surely be sold in the interim.  After years of searching we went for it.  We put our Brookfield Road home on the market, and committed to the new house.

Talk about living on the edge.

We closed in early November, and moved into our new house shortly after.  The Brookfield Road house is on the market as I write this.  We set the price only $12,000.00 more than we paid for it in 2006.  We invested much more than that amount in the house during our time there, but we understood the way of the real estate market since had moved in back in 2006.  It hasn't been pretty during that time, but over the past couple of years things are looking so much better..

When we bought the home in 2006, it offered everything we wanted, and had the potential to give us so much more, and did.  It had a new roof put on just prior to us buying, as well as new electrical.  We added to the list over time.  We hired a contractor to tear out the upstairs bathroom, and put in a new, modern bath.  it came out so nice.  I was inspired, and  did the same to the first floor powder room.   Everything we did in the house we did for us, but also we did to help when it came time to sell.  One has to keep that in mind, and not choose designs that are too individual.

Since we put the house on the market we have lowered the asking price a few times, most recently last week.  Our plan is to encourage a buyer to stop by, take a look , and make an offer.  We're easy, and are willing to entertain offers.  We aren't out to make a killing in the market.  We are just looking for the next caretakers of this wonderful older home.

It will sell.  I'm not worried.  Yet.  The house offers so much more than most in the same price range in our area.

Today, I am going to use the power of this blog to further promote our house for sale.  It's kinda neat having the ability to reach a few more folks that may be looking, or know someone that may be looking.  If you are interested, or know someone, click the "share" button, or the email envelope below,  and send it off to them.  You can always send me a note to aroundsturbridge@gmail.com.

One more thing, if you do refer someone that you feel would love our home, and they buy it, we would not only be thankful, but also pay a finders fee.  That is only right.

Getting paid for a job well done is always a good thing.

View home



Friday, October 16, 2015

Time To Step Back, Pause, and Re-think The Plan

Marketing is a field that is not in my wheelhouse.  Oh, I can sell you something you may need in order to  live a normal life, or to just to continue living.  Nurses do that.  But, when it comes to marketing a companies image I am clueless, unless that marketing is based on common sense, then I may be able to offer something.

CVS Pharmacies is a massive company.  They have on their payroll a whole bunch of pharmacists, but a whole lot more marketing, and PR people.  They have to.  They want to be the best, and the biggest pharmacy in the United States.  Currently, they are number two after Walgreen's.  CVS would like to be the pharmaceutical equivalent of Starbucks.

In recent history, CVS has attempted to place a store in Sturbridge at the junction of Route 20, and Holland Road without success.  Something about the construction, and eventual building would adversely affect the Quinebaug River. How it would adversely affect the river more than the ruins already on the site is beyond me.  Again, not in my wheelhouse.

Currently, CVS is hoping to plant itself in front of the Host Hotel, on Route 20,  in the spot occupied by the Exhibition Hall.  The Exhibition Hall houses Bentley's Pub.  The building is one hundred and forty seven years old, and was once the main building at the Sturbridge Fairgrounds.  It is in excellent condition, and is historic.  CVS would prefer to have a new building on that spot after the Exhibition Hall is torn down.

I don't believe the town will allow that to happen.  There is a process in place to determine if a building warrants saving due to its historic significance.  I hope that all the town departments will act in concert to save the building when the time comes.  At present, CVS has asked to submit their site approval plan at a later date. This could mean that CVS is either thinking things over, or they are pulling out.

I have an idea.

We want to encourage large companies to come to Sturbridge, and all they need is a little guidance on just how to fulfill their plans for expansion without causing the communities, like us, from having a conniption when a piece of their town is threatened.  What if the  CVS architects took the existing building, and used it to house their new CVS store.

It would be a design challenge, may cost a bit more, but it would speak very loudly not only to the town, but to all the future towns it would like to build in.   Imagine CVS saving an historic building in historic Sturbridge, Massachusetts so that it may be used in a new way.  The good press that would generate would be a marketing departments dream, and it may even set a precedent for future building by CVS, and other companies.  The goal of building a new store is met, and is met with smiling approval of the locals.

What could be better?

Can't thing of a thing.  Just common sense.






Tuesday, September 29, 2015

One More Time


I have been down this road before, but like any good traveler, I am willing to go there again with hopes of seeing something I may have missed before.

I have oodles of old Sturbridge stuff busting out of boxes here at this old house that needs to be in the hands of those that are willing to archive it for the future.  I have had the previous two town administrators stop by the house to check out the maps, and documents with the intention of taking them off my hands for the benefit of preserving town history.

Didn't happen.

Don't know why, but maybe it has something to do with the town  not having a place to display the empherma.  In the meantime, I rescued it from the landfill, the internet, and a lot was given to me with the purpose of preserving it.  No sense in preserving something if it can't be seen by the public.

I've had much of the collection for fifteen years.  I'm still waiting on the town to step up, but I can't wait for ever.

Currently, I am packing up a lot of accumulated stuff, and I came across the town reports, and assessors reports for the Town of Sturbridge from 1902 through 1912 pictured below.

They need to find a home.

If you are a school, or a library, a historian, or a student just interested in local old stuff, please contact me, and I will be happy to put these in you hands.  I have some doubles, and like baseball cards, that means there are a lot to go around.

As far as the other historic documents go, well, I don't know.  I contacted the curator at Old Sturbridge Village years ago, but there was little interest. The town is not interested, and the Historic Commision has passed as well.

After fifteen years of keeping the documents safe, and no interest to take over the duty, it may be time to use Ebay to get them into the hands of collectors.

Can't say they never came home again.  They just weren't wanted.






Thursday, September 24, 2015

Where The Heck Have I Been? Glad You Asked

Hello. It's me.

Sorry, I've been distracted by life for the past six months.  Distracted in good ways, enough to forgo sitting in front of the Macbook, and typing.

Another reason I have been a bit scarce is that when I first started writing this blog in 2007 I had a specific purpose that was enhanced by a lot of negativity here in town.  A major source of negativity left the stage a couple of years ago.  I felt like taking a hands on my hips stance, and proclaiming , "My work here is done", but I hung on just in case there was a reincarnation, or a copycat on the horizon.

There wasn't.

I may be wrong, and I may be totally ignorant of the current pulse here in town, but I believe we are in a better place, a more positive, happy place, than we were in just a few short years ago.  No, we don't have a train station in East Brookfield, or a faster east - west route through town, an entertainment venue, a sports complex, or a fancy visitors center on I-84, but there are those that just don't care, and are moving on.  The folks at the Publick House are blowing me away.  The landscaping, that became very intense a few years ago, signaled the "All's well" on the common.  The tented function venue behind the inn, the granite curbs, and paved driveway, and now the wonderful renovation, and addition to the house beside the inn all show that no matter what the Publick House is invested, committed, and happy to still be here after 200 plus years.

They are reaping the harvest from the seeds they have sewn and cultivated over the past few years.  Sorry about that lame gardening analogy, but it fits.

I know, there may still be some gross negativity in town, but either it is petty, or I am totally oblivious, but I am happy it is not in my face constantly as it once was.  We can move on.  I did not like addressing issues of malcontent.  I have always known that no matter what, the dark side would eventually see the light, from either having an epiphany, or having a spot light pointed at their head, and life would go on.  And, it did, and it has.

Let's keep it going.

In the meantime, we have enjoyed our time along the coast of southern Maine a great deal, and are about to close up the house for the season in October.  Good times, and fun have a way of pushing one away from the computer keyboard.  Next year we will open the cottage more to others to use so that we can enjoy other places that we love.  Feel free to drop me a line if you are interested in renting a cottage in Wells, Maine.  Have I got a deal for you.  :-)

We have also been busy since the end of July searching for a new home, and we have found one here in town.  In the meantime, our house on Brookfield Road is on the market.  Lots going on, and all have a way of making the time I sit in front of the keyboard less of a priority.

Life.  Gotta love it.

If you, or someone you know are looking for a new place to call home, have I got a GREAT deal for you!

Click here to take a peak inside our home.



Summer fun, and buying a new home are wonderful life events.  We are very happy, but the best event is yet to come.  My step-daughter Christine, is getting married to a wonderful man in November.  This is the very best.  Tony is a great guy, a loving man to Christine, and her son. Mary and I could not be happier.

So, you see now that I have shared our life for the world to see on the internet, life has not so much gotten in the way over the past six months, but we have just been blessed enough to live it.

That being said, I'll see you in March.




Kidding.