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

Friday, December 7, 2007

There's Real "Bozo"s in the Wastewater Debate

I just found the real "Bozo"s in town, and they are living in this whole waste water controversy.

And I
never really understood the quote from Forest Gump, "Stupid is as stupid does." until today. The Town of Sturbridge hired an engineering firm to study the towns wastewater needs for the future. We spent a boatload of money to do so. The town hired them. One would think if the town hired them, then the town would be vitally interested in what they would have to report, otherwise they could have taken a shot in the dark themselves, and saved a bunch of money.

Well, despite the pleading of Town Administrator James Malloy, DPW Director Greg Morse, Selectman Arnold Wilson, Mary Blanchard of the Zoning Board, Planning Board Chairman Tom Creamer, and Alexandra McNitt Executive Director of the Central Mass. South Chamber of Commerce the board of Selectmen voted 4-1 for a waste water capacity of 1.1 million gallons per day, as opposed to the 1.4 recommended by the engineers. 1.5 is probably what is actually needed I'm told.

OK. Now, tell me why.

Why did those on the board vote against the engineers recommendations. Why did they vote against the recommendations of their peers? Just give me, and the rest of us in town an answer that we can swallow. Call the newspapers, ask to speak with a reporter, and tell them your reasoning. Go ahead, go get the phone.

Growth is inevitable, although controlled, planned growth isn't. I spent 25 years in Franklin. Growth took that sleepy little farm community to the town that was, at one point, issuing more building permits year after year, than any other town in the Commonwealth. The growth, they say was planned, however the character of the town was ruined. Don't let that happen here.

If growth in the town is going to happen, either from the town itself attracting businesses, or from folks just moving in, then it is only logical that one would have in place the town services to accommodate the expansion. If you don't, then just put a freeze on new growth, stop issuing building permits for houses, and stay locked in a the size we are at now.

You can't have it both ways, and if you think we can, then you either know something the rest of us don't, or are just stupid.

There. I said it. It took me a few paragraphs, but I finally said it. Stupid.

I don't think we are all on the same page with this growth thing, either. There is too much animosity, too many differing opinions, and too many shanagans at public meetings. Do we actually have a Master Plan for Growth for the Town of Sturbridge? I mean a real, thought out, written, published, and presented Master Plan of Growth. If we do, then I am sure the subject of waste water is in that document somewhere. How can we vote against the Master Plan? That is, unless we don't have plan.

Well, that would explain a lot. (See stupid above).

My thoughts are this: get on the same page, get a Master Plan if you don't have one, listen to the guys you hire, stop the name calling and slapping, and work together.

And one more thing. I'm 53 years old. I flush the toilet a few times a day, and this I know: my prostate isn't getting any smaller, and the way things are going, I'll be using those missing 300 thousand gallons a day in another few years all by myself.


  1. The sensibility and logic demonstrated in your blog is nothing less than genius.

    Not because I agree with it, but quite simply because if I didn't I would have to be a "Bozo".

  2. Thank you for your kind words. And, don't worry, being a "Bozo" isn't all that bad. In fact, I've been one most of my life, but that is a purposeful thing. It's the folks that should know better and do Bozo things when it is inappropriate, or won't consider the other persons point of view. They are the true "Bozo's".

    I'm only a pretender to the throne.

  3. Hello Thinking - yes, there is a Master Plan. Now that I have a bit of time, I'm thinking about picking up a copy for winter reading, to find out what the "mind of the town" was then...I'm also wondering if the recent idea being bandied about to "update the Master Plan" is because the older one concurs with Selectmen's vote? There is so much information "out there" about how to balance growth with natural & cultural resource conservation, however, business in the area is floundering, not unlike many towns which go through growth and decline cycles, but human nature is to point fingers.

    Your words are sensible and logical. Interestingly enough, I don't see or hear anything positive about the new BioMag system which in the end, isn't costing the town a penny. I thought that was pretty, sensible progessive thinking on the part of Selectmen, but some tend to focus on the negative. And by making these comments, people will assume I've "taken sides". What a shame.

    Normally, I shy away from commenting on volatile issues - at least in this town - but you make sense. There are bozo's with big red noses and stand-up red hair; they are truly clowns. And then there are those who admit to being bozo's just to placate everyone

  4. Hello Carol, I tend to agree with once more, however I think that there is nothing wrong with "taking sides". We all have a "side" we believe in, and unless we want to give the impression that we are opionless, then why not express it. I don't mean shove our opinions down other folks throats, only that we never be ashamed, or afraid of how we feel, or what we believe in. It's only through opinions, beliefs, and actions that the rest of our world knows who we are.

    I know, it causes headaches for us at times, but if we are in a position where it is important that others know where we stand, then we are more or less obligated to speak up.

    But, I beleive that actions DO speak louder than words. Once someone associates another with positive actions, they don't have to speak at all. Just give that knowing smile.

    One final thing, never "shy away" from a volatile issues, there are other ways to challenge them other than face to face confrontation: actions are a powerful thing.

    But, I know you know that. :)

  5. There is a "master plan" in Sturbridge. The problem is that it was written in 1987 and is so "general" that anybody can read anything they want into it. If read with a bias to development, the Master Plan suggests development, if read with an bias against development, well guess what? It justifies that too!

    A more specific and updated plan would help make Sturbridge a better place 20 years from now. Perhaps, that is why the Town "Planner" (planning, get it) is suggesting a new master plan and for no other reason. She doesn't live in Town so I think she's probably more "unbiased" than the rest of us!

  6. It is good to know that a Master Plan does exist. A 20 year old Master Plan is obviously in need of some updating and re-wording. Personally, I would like to see the plan and see how the town has utilized its guidance over the last 20 years. A new plan would be ideal. I hope the Town Planner is able to accomplish this, and that the residents of Sturbridge have input into its design.

  7. Dear "Stur": Putting your sarcasm aside, this is my point exactly. The Master Plan became outdated not obsolete) about 5 years after it was created. Years have passed since, various planning board members have come and gone, and my best estimate is 3 town planners have come and gone since too.

    Interestingly enough, there is no hesitation in terms of criticizing people for their interpretation or use of an outdated plan; yet with all the energy and talent being expended elsewhere in creating ill will and hard feelings over the planning of Sturbridge, isn't it possible that all that energy and talent could have updated a good portion of the Master Plan by now?

    Let's get real: if the focus really is the planning of Sturbridge - which is supposed to be decided by residents when they attend Master Plan meetings - updating this plan would have started quite some time ago. And I am NOT criticizing the town planner, so don't twist my words. I realize that office is inundated, at the least, with excessive e-mails and phone calls from its chair.

    The town's Open Space Plan, which is one chapter in the Master Plan, was updated in 2005; it was done with a shoe-string budget and volunteers. As a result, grant monies can now e obtained from the state for land acquisition.

    Why isn't the Master Plan updated? Has its outdatedness effected the town's Bond Rating? Has it affected our points on state grant applications? An updated plan would certainly put us in a better position with developers in terms of 40B housing proposals.


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