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
Thursday, December 27, 2007
A New Year, New Ideas, A New Plan
As usual I've been thinking. I've been thinking about New Years Resolutions. Oh, not the personal kind, but more of a civic kind. What if during the upcoming year all the boards, departments and committees in town worked together? What if they used their respective knowledge and expertise to enhance one another?
Whoa. Cool, or what?
Think about it. What if the Conservation Commissions worked with the DPW to carve out a few decent trail heads at those new trails? Or, what if when one board presents its finding, their expert findings, regarding some matter, then the other boards respect their input, and accept it?
You get what I'm saying.
This would be awesome.
This is where respect, and civility comes into town government. No name calling, no slapping, just positive work for the town without the negative news stories. Oh, opposing points of view are necessary, and a good thing. Remember compromise? Anyway, if this could happen then we could do so much more, so much faster than before.
And, we need to. See, the Town of Sturbridge is at a critical crossroads. I know this has been said before, and probably by me, but everyone involved in the towns government to be on the same page, and work together otherwise this town is going to take an enormous hit and fail.
I know, it sounds like I'm promoting we all sit around the campfire, hold hands and sing Kumbyya. Well, in a way, I am. We have a very unique opportunity here in Sturbridge. We are at the very doorstep to New England. We have two major interstates bringing enormous traffic through town every day, not to mention the state highways. We are in a most enviable position for a small town. Now, we need to exploit it.
Face it, our industrial base is practically nil. Our shops are closing. Old Sturbridge Village, although doing so much better than just a couple of years ago, and an incredible place to see, just can't be our only source of tourism.We have the highway infrastructure in place. We have a boat load of hotel / motel rooms, and B&B's in the area, and we have all those folks driving through town on the highways. The only thing we need is something, or things , to draw them in. A Town government working together can make this happen.
Think about it. What would 50 to 100 extra cars, with a couple of people in them, do for the economy in the town? How about a few hundred, or more? How would that affect OSV, our restaurants and shops? We need to promote the living heck out this town, and what we have here. Spend some money, rent a billboard on the pike. Promote, promote, promote. Promote the Harvest Festival, Maple Days, OSV, The Opacum Lands, hiking, boating, ice fishing, our lakes, snow shoeing, anything special in this town, promote it. OSV put up some nice billboards on the pike, unfortunately they only had a web address on them, not which exit to take off the pike. (And here's a little friendly advice to OSV, next time you put up a billboard loose the web address, and instead say, "Exit 9 Sturbridge, Massachusetts", and maybe a car will drive there instead of going home to look you up on the web. Now, go an fire your marketing people).
And, whatever happened to that big information center that was going to be built on I-84 a few years ago?? Where'd that go? Imagine if there was one of those fine rest areas on 84, just inside the Sturbridge line, like you see in other states? One with a large information kiosk, restrooms, and lots of parking? What a place for tourists to plan the next out of the car exploration before they got to the rest area in Charlton, and passed us by.
Nab 'em as soon as they cross the border!!!
Ok, that's it. Resolve to work well together for a common goal, like promoting the town, increasing the tourists, and increasing the revenue. If we do this right, we'll be in the best financial shape we have ever been in.
Now think about what would be the one thing that would attract a bunch of people off those interstates? I'm not talking a casino, but what else could we do?There is a poll on the left side of the page. Post your vote, and forward this post on to others you know.
Who knows? In six months things could begin to get really interesting around here.