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

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It's Time

As a result of a recent posting, this blog, a usual respite from the anger seen on other sites such as in the comments offered at the Worcester Telegram site, was inundated with angry, hurtful comments. It became such an onslaught, that I had to pull the plug on the comments. Comments no longer served a purpose other than to inflame one another, and this is not the place for that. What was done was to offer the other side of the discussion in full since we have been hammered with one side since the beginning. When that was done the other side became irritated, and lost control of their words. I will not share those comments left to be posted. If I did, it would prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that those that wrote them were not of their right mind when they wrote them, and considering that some actually signed their names, it would prove an enormous embarrassment to them once the dopamine wore off. Instead, I will post a piece I wrote a little bit ago, because...

t is time to end the madness.

For a little over two months I have shared my thoughts, my ideas and dreams for the Town that I have grown to love, and care very deeply for. It is not just the land, the history, or what the town offers its residents, it is the people of this village.

With any group of people there are those that one admires, those that blend into the scenery, others that one will disagree with, and still others that cause such a ruckus that one can not help but not like what they do.

They make us uneasy. They ramble, and make accusations based on their version of truth and integrity without taking into consideration that their method only burns the bridges they are trying to build. They attack, and when confronted, offer "evidence" to back up the "truth" that they espouse. They display a mash-up of words and images proclaiming their ideas, and except for the rambling, disconnected torrent of words, nothing is original. They purposefully hurt others. They will use words like integrity, but surround it in quotes.

They are bullies.

They serve no social purpose. They can easily be labeled misfits, and as I said above, every group has them. Unfortunately, they come with the territory.

They take sides, mostly for the wrong reasons, and sometimes take the better side, but again, for the wrong reasons. They lash out, or set in motion little "time bombs", and then sit back and wait to see the fireworks. All in the name of some self righteous crusade they have chosen. But let me make one thing very clear, crusades are fine, if the mission is good, and one does not burn and pillage along the way, and loose sight of the cause.

They thrive on the madness they invoke. They eat, and sleep, and sit awake thinking, planning, and designing their next move. The disorder they cause is the thrill, not the improvements they say they seek. That would run counter to their purpose. If things changed as a result of their ravings, they would be disappointed, and would change directions and then step up their actions a notch.

The intent of their initial purpose may have been a good one, but somewhere in the course of things, their thought process became skewed. No one can say that they are for truth and integrity when they bend it, and have shown that they lack integrity themselves. They quote the First Amendment, and hide behind it, and unless they become threatening, there is little we can do to silence them. It is like the events in Skokie, one has to allow it, but one doesn't have to acknowledge it.

When chastised, they become defensive, and place you on the "list". They use fear as a weapon. Good people fall by the wayside because they are attacked constantly, and it becomes a large part of their day undoing the damage caused by the bully. The harassing become personal. A vendetta.

One can stop the bully, but one can also "starve" them.

When a Broadway show looses its audience, it closes and fades away. When a bully looses his ability to cause mayhem, they do one of a couple of things:

  • They accelerate their tirades, like a noisy child having a tantrum, and eventually they will quiet down, or

  • They attack from a different angle, for a different purpose, or at a different group.

To starve the bully one must ignore them. Totally. That means not acknowledging their ideas, or accusations verbally, or in writing whether or not you agree. No matter how much one is inclined to "set the record straight". No checking up on them to monitor their activities. Those casual views are recorded and even if you are passive in your visit, it still counts as a visit, and gives the bully a rush. You can not "feed" the bully.

We cannot wear ear plugs or blinders, that would shut us out from the rest of the world, but we can move on, eyes front, and take control of our lives. To focus our eyes front, we need to have a common worthy goal to guide us, or good person to follow. Getting all on the same page is the first step.

That being said, there is one way to definitely stop the bully. The only way that they will go away, is if someone, or someones, arrive on the scene that are stronger, more put together, and not afraid of the accusations, tantrums, ramblings, even when they become personal. Someone that will take the heat away from the others that the bully abuses, and thrust it back at him. Someone who knows the bully's weaknesses better than they do.

In the meantime, the things we can do now are to ignore the bully, and to remove the bully from his pulpit. Demand that the bully leave his position. It is not so much what the bully says, but the manner in which he says it, or shares it. The bullies opinion is their own, and they are entitled to it, but when it is preached to point that it causes others to fear him, and question what he may do next, then it is time to stop the madness.

He no longer belongs behind the pulpit.

Ah, Nature...

Well, this confirms it, I got coyotes.

Yesterday I went out back to see the tracks I had seen the day before a little closer. They didn't look like dog tracks, too sharp and pointed. So, I went online and found some images and lo and behold, they matched the coyote. This is no big deal really, we have a slew of them around here, but I had not seen any sign of them in my yard.

A few years ago I lost my cat, Timothy, to what I have always believed was a coyote. A year or two before that I saw one from a distance under a street light howling at it. Now, that was a strange sight.

One unique thing about coyote tracks is that they are "paired" as opposed to a dog. Two tracks, one immediately in front of the other, and two more just a couple of feet behind those.

This is a photo of the tracks I found in my back yard. See how they are "paired" like in the diagram?

The actual track itself is tight together. The pads are almost triangular, and the claws leave a unmistakable impression. The photo below matches the above diagram.

Anyway. Nothing we can do about it. There here, and so are we. At least we don't have black bears like my friends out near Springfield have. I know there was one sighted around town a few years ago, but I haven't heard anything since then. Jeesh, I had hard time dealing with the Red Squirrels in my yard last summer, never mind having to deal with a bear, or a coyote.

So, take this as a reminder. There are coyotes in town. They will eat your cat, or Toy Poodle if given a chance. They do come out during the day time if they are hungry enough, and they will make a move towards anything they feel they can over power.
We need to just be careful, and learn to live with them.
Oh, and one thing that may help next time you have to go out back to put out the trash, try saying really loud, "Beep,beep."
I hear it scares the bejeepers out of them.

For more information on Coyotes here in Massachusetts go to:

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

It's Not Easy Staying Green

The following letter, and photograph were sent to me this evening, along with permission to post it. I believe that it is a good thing to hear from the other side of the tree. Too often we hear from only one direction.


If we’re going to make a mountain out of a molehill, or a forest out of a tree, let’s at least get our facts straight.

McGilpin Road is going to be paved. As part of that work, Tom Chamberland, the Tree Warden, walked along the Road, looked at the trees, and guessed at which ones were “Hazard” Trees. There is no written standard or by-law in the Town of Sturbridge defining what constitutes a Hazard Tree - the Tree Warden just relies on his gut. Or, as he told me at one meeting, if the DPW director feels a tree might be in the way, the Tree Warden designates it as a Hazard Tree. The 150+/- year-old oak across from 117 McGilpin Road, a.k.a. Tree 25, was labeled a Hazard Tree under this less than rigorous “system”.

One of the residents on the Road called a licensed arborist. This arborist conducted a resistograph test on Tree 25. The resistograph’s motor drives a specially engineered drill bit into the wood at a constant speed and graphs the results on a waterproof wax paper printout. As the drill penetrates the wood, resistance is used to determine decay presence or absence. This test indicated that Tree 25 was not rotted, or in danger of falling, and that further inquiry was warranted. If that test had showed that the Tree was in poor health, I, as well as all the neighbors I spoke to, agreed that it should be cut down.

At the Planning Board hearing of September 27, 2007, more than a dozen McGilpin Road residents asked that Tree 25 not be designated a “hazard” tree under the Shade Tree By-law or the Scenic Road By-law until further investigation into its health was done.
Mr. Creamer, who, as Planning Board Chairman, is responsible for preserving trees along scenic roads in Town, rejected the idea of a continuance and stated that the residents should appeal the Shade Tree By-law to the Board of Selectmen. The residents were disappointed that he was not responsive to their concerns, but assumed they could go forward in good faith.

Linda Cocalis and I spoke to the Tree Warden after the meeting. He told us then, and repeatedly from that day forward, that he would love to preserve large, old Heritage Trees like this one, throughout Town. He also told us that he didn’t have the funds, the manpower, or a Tree Committee with the infrastructure that would allow him to do so. Linda and I asked if the Tree was healthy, if we could get the funding, and if we helped the Tree Warden form a Tree Committee, would he be comfortable preserving this and other Heritage Trees? He told us repeatedly that that would solve all his problems and allow him to bring tree care to the next level in Sturbridge.

Linda Cocalis found a grant for the Tree Warden to apply for at the DCR. She helped him gather his data and called the DCR repeatedly, lobbying hard for this grant. She argued that a Tree Warden who was trying to bring tree care to the next level, coupled with a neighborhood that cared about their heritage trees, deserved this grant. Mr. Chamberland applied for the grant, and got two thousand dollars to preserve five trees on McGilpin Road all of which are smaller in diameter than Tree 25. However, he purposefully left Tree 25 off of the grant application.

I hired an arborist to examine the Tree with a resistograph and write a full report on the Tree. Mr. Chamberland attended and witnessed the examination by the arborist of Tree 25. Mr. Chamberland not only questioned the arborist regarding the use of a resistograph, which he had never used, but he also chose many of the spots that the arborist tested. The arborist determined that the Tree was in good health, but that it would be beneficial to install three cables ($150-250 apiece) and do some pruning ($200-300) to promote its ideal health. Considering that Mr. Chamberland estimated that it would cost $1000 to cut Tree 25 down, not to mention $300-500 for stump removal, and that with the proposed work Tree 25 might live for decades, the cost seemed within reason to Linda, Mr. Chamberland and myself.

Linda and I then worked many hours to help Mr. Chamberland create the Town Tree Committee, including identifying potential projects for the Tree Committee, drafting by-laws and standards, drafting a proposal for the Board of Selectmen and even finding people willing to sit on the Tree Committee. We had long meetings and phone calls with Mr. Chamberland. We also sent all of our drafts to Mr. Chamberland to confirm that all was in accordance with his vision for tree care in Town. We did this work not only to preserve Tree 25, but for all of the Town’s Heritage Trees.

Mr. Chamberland and I made a joint presentation to the Board of Selectmen (all of which had been reviewed and pre-approved by Mr. Chamberland). The Board agreed to revoke Tree 25’s Hazard status, based on the arborist’s report and Mr. Chamberland’s recommendation, and to allow the formation of a Tree Committee, despite the fact that Mr. Chamberland was suddenly very negative about the proposal at the meeting.

Why had Mr. Chamberland switched gears and become so negative? And why did he ask for funding to be approved at the Special Town Meeting, instead of as part of his overall budget in April? I did not support this funding request. I feel that it was inappropriate to request non-emergency funds outside of the annual budget.

Why did he tell the Finance Committee that Tree 25 should be cut down, despite the fact that he was asking them for funding to preserve it? When the Finance Committee voted “no action”, effectively removing the item from the Special Town Meeting, why did Mr. Chamberland then make a special motion during the meeting to put the issue back up for vote? Why did he ask the residents at the January 28, 2008 Town Meeting to deny the funding that he had just proposed again? Linda and I certainly did not ask him to.

Perhaps because Mr. Creamer, our Chairman of the Planning Board, has made cutting this tree down his cause célèbre. He wants you to focus on one tree rather than larger issues like sewer or a new elementary school. Mr. Creamer (who does not even live on McGilpin Road) has written countless vindictive blog and newspaper reports regarding Tree 25. Mr. Creamer has posted satellite pictures of the neighborhood on his blog, with derogatory commentary. He has, in letters and articles in the local newspapers, in his blog and verbally at televised public meetings, mocked the proposed Town Tree Committee and ridiculed the funding proposed by the Tree Warden to safeguard Tree 25 and other trees in Sturbridge.

From the September 27 Planning Board Hearing to the present, Mr. Creamer has harassed the residents of McGilpin Road, the Selectmen and the Goodwin family regarding Tree 25. Is Mr. Chamberland afraid of Mr. Creamer? Maybe. Or maybe he and his brother Russ Chamberland (who is on the Planning Board) have jumped onto Mr. Creamer’s bandwagon.

Don’t blame the Selectmen for doing what their Tree Warden, a group of residents and scientific evidence indicated they should do. Don’t vilify McGilpin Road residents or the Goodwins because you disagree on this small issue. Finally, keep your eye on the ball. Mr. Creamer should stop spreading bile and start doing his job and conduct himself as an unbiased, productive Planning Board Chairman for the Town of Sturbridge.

Finally, Mr. Creamer, despite your claims, I am not a coward, a bully, or an elitist, nor am I disgusting. This is the first time I have written a word about this Tree in any forum. I did not leave Mr. Chamberland in the lurch – quite the opposite. I am a resident of Sturbridge, a mother and an attorney that is trying to take care of my family while donating time and energy to my hometown. I make excellent cheesecake, need to lose 15 pounds (maybe a little more) and play guitar very poorly. In other words, I’m an average person who deserves a little respect from their town officials.

The people you have targeted are good, honest, caring people who are invested in the town they call home. Take a break Mr. Creamer, and try to remember that whether a tree falls or not, we are all still neighbors.

Kirstie L. Pecci
138 McGilpin Road
Sturbridge, MA 01566

I Think That I Shall Never See a Town Like Mine Agree...

With all the debate about a particular tree in our town, I thought it would be a good idea to share how another community has dealt with an old tree, and a very famous old tree at that.

Famous 'Tree' poem originates at U.

An artist´s rendering of the oak,
Media Credit: Courtesy of Lauren Curtis
An artist´s rendering of the oak, "Kilmer Tree," drawn on June 15 commemorates the subject of Joyce Kilmer´s most famous poem.

It is not every day a University tree is the inspiration to a famous literary work. However, this is the case in Joyce Kilmer's famous poem, "Trees."

His poem begins with its two most famous lines: "I think that I shall never see / A poem lovely as a tree." An old, 70-foot-high white oak tree that used to be located at the Rutgers Agricultural School, later the location of the Labor Education Center on Cook campus, was Kilmer's inspiration to this world-renowned poem.

Since then, this famous 300-year-old tree had to be cut down in 1963 because it was dying. Although it was hewed four decades ago, its remnants still exist today, and most of the pieces of the tree are still owned by Cook College.

This past June, Highland Park planted another tree in front of Highland Park High School to mark the 100th anniversary of the day Kilmer saw the white oak at the University.

This tree is considered the grandchild of Kilmer's inspirational tree, because it is genetically and biologically the same as the tree Kilmer saw 100 years ago.

Kilmer was a student at Rutgers College from 1904-06. He was also a reporter and associate editor of The Daily Targum before he transferred to Columbia University where he graduated in 1908...

Harvey J. Brudner, president of the Joyce Kilmer Centennial Commission, said a student had to pass the entire year of courses during the time that Kilmer went to school in order to progress to the next year. Unfortunately, Kilmer was not the best math student and was told he had to repeat his sophomore year. Instead of repeating every course, he and his parents decided it was best for him to change schools. He then became a student at Columbia in New York City.

However, Kilmer found a way to always remember his time at the University.

As a student, he discovered a tall white oak and later wrote "Trees," which has been translated into many different languages and has been the foundation of many young students' lessons of memorization in the younger grades.

After graduating from Columbia, he became a teacher. He continued his writing with various poems, essays and even a play. He also worked for The New York Times. However, his various works never received much recognition. In a 2001 Star-Ledger article, staff-writer Alexander Lane regarded Kilmer as a "one-hit wonder of a poet."

Kilmer was a resident of New Brunswick for 20 of his 31 years of life. He was killed during World War I in 1918 when he was fighting in France.

Kilmer also has many notable family ties. His father was Fred Kilmer, director of scientific affairs at Johnson & Johnson - which opened in New Brunswick in 1886 - and developer of baby powder. An ancestor of his was traced down to one of the signers of the Magna Carta as well.

Brudner worked with Kenton Kilmer, Joyce Kilmer's son, in 1986 to establish the Joyce Kilmer Centennial Commission. Brudner said of Kenton Kilmer, "The more I studied with him about the background of his father, I realized the more important the life of Joyce Kilmer will be when understood."

The main objective of the commission is to help Kilmer acquire more recognition for his works by selling books about him and explaining his different works. Members try to stress the importance of his works and help others understand their meanings. They have even attempted to have stamps made in Kilmer's recognition.



By Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall

never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry

mouth is pressed

Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at

God all day

And lifts her leafy

arms to pray;

A tree that may in

summer wear

A nest of robins

in her hair;

Upon whose bosom

snow has lain;

Who intimately

lives with rain.

Poems are made by

fools like me,

But only God can

make a tree.

Let Me Back-up for a Minute...

It seems the issue of backing up onto a state highway has generated a bit of interest. I know the feeling. The subject drove me nuts for a long time.

When I queried the Mass Highway Department and received their reply of not being aware of any such law, or regulation regarding backing up onto a state highway I thought that was it. I had researched the Mass General Laws and found nothing as well.

Today, I received an email from Tom Chamberland. Besides being our Tree Warden, and a ranger for the Army Corp of Engineers, Tom is also one that won't rest until he has an answer. I like that. We are very much alike in that regard.

Here is Tom's email sent to the comment section this morning:

Dear just thinking:

Yes, I know you have moved on from this post however, I knew I was not wrong. So I went to the source, our Police Chief Tom Ford. We are both right. Years Back it was illegal to back out into a state highway,(Chief Ford remembers writing many such tickets) however, when the Great State of Massachusetts decided to "codify" its laws, this one, backing out onto a highway, as well as others were combined into one "driving in an unsafe manner", so today if you back out onto a highway AND cause an accident, you will be ticketed for driving in an unsafe manner.

The email shows great follow through by Tom, and he went to the right source. "Driving in an unsafe manner" is a term that is, unfortunately, completely subjective. It is often used in an appropriate manner, however at times it is the only ammunition available when an officer observes something that is just plain wrong, but doesn't know what statute to use.

Steering an open Jeep with your knees can be observed by an officer and is reason to ticket for driving in an unsafe manner. Driving with a person standing in the bed of a pickup, or on the hood are all obvious unsafe manners in which to drive. Applying make-up while driving, shaving while driving, or using a knife and fork with a snack while driving are the less obvious ones, but are still driving in an unsafe manner.

Backing out of a driveway, or from anyplace, is something that requires paying attention, and patience like all aspects of safe driving. If one backs out into traffic, or pulls out into traffic, and disregards the traffic itself resulting in an accident, then they should be ticketed for "driving in an unsafe manner". However, the actual act of backing out of a driveway is not illegal, and should not be a ticketed offense. Otherwise, everyone with a driveway on Route 131, Route 20, and Route 148 would be operating unsafely if their driveway did not have room for a turn-around.

Tom's email states, " today if you back out onto a highway AND cause an accident, you will be ticketed for driving in an unsafe manner. " The key word here is "AND". If you do anything behind the wheel, not just backing up onto a state road, and cause an accident you should be held accountable. Of course, there are circumstances that may be considered in your favor, such as your brakes suddenly failing on a steep hill, a duck landing on your windshield, or a chipmunk running up your pant leg, but otherwise you are in trouble.

So, if you do plan on backing out of your spot in front of the Blackington Building on Route 20, and you do happen to cause an accident, let's hope you had duck on your windshield or a squirrel in your pants.

In the meantime, someone should clue in Dr. Gill's office, and have them re-word their sign. something like "DANGER. Please Do Not Back-up onto Road. I Am Only licensed to Fix Eyes" would be good.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Very Best of Two Worlds

I commute to work in Boston, and for some reason folks in Boston say, "Wow. All the way from Sturbridge?"

Well, yes.

60.4 miles from my driveway to my little spot in the underground garage at work. What amazes me is that the folks that are usually in awe of my commute travel the same distance from Plymouth or Gloucester. It's different when you are coming from the west. Plymouth and Gloucester are on the coast, just up from the city, or down a ways, but west of the city? Towards Worcester? Well, that's near New York isn't it?

I grew up 12 miles outside of Boston in Medfield, and then lived in a town south of Milford on I-495 for many years. To me, anything west of I-495 was the Hinterland. And, Worcester? Well, that would require planning, trip tix from AAA, a packed lunch, and a space blanket for emergencies.

Growing up it was the towns next door, or the Cape, and sometimes Boston we would travel to. We always seemed to be pointed eastward. We never considered looking over our shoulders to the west, unless it was a school trip to Old Sturbridge Village. "Are we staying overnight in a hotel?"

So, I can see how those in the city, and in the Metrowest region think. Central Mass is a different world. It's the end of the world to most. Well, almost. First comes Worcester, then Albany, then Chicago, then San Fransisco, then the end of the world.

I am not alone, though. Many folks do the Exit 9 to Exit 18, or 24 shuffle each day on the Pike. It's a straight shot, and in a snow storm, it is usually the safest road out there, unless you are traveling between highway equipment yards. Sometimes the road is cleared so well, then the plows leave the road, turn around and head back the other way. Then you are on your own to deal with the unplowed and untreated section you just drove into. The plows from the other yard haven't made it this far west yet, never mind turned around to head back east.

All in all, the commute is fine. Occasionally I will hit traffic in Framingham, or around the Weston toll booths. I always allow enough time to go with the flow. Red Sox games will change things a bit, as do big concerts in town, but all in all, the commute is fine. I sip my coffee, talk "hands free" to my sister in South Carolina, or to Mary back home. Listen to some Lily Allen, or Michael Buble.

Good times.

So, why commute 60 miles to work? There are several reasons, but besides the obvious reason of really loving ones job, there is the added extra benefit one would not normally think of. You see, I can be in the heart of a very cosmopolitan city with its high rises, concrete and steel one minute, and about 60 minutes later be in the woods, or a meadow, or on a farm. But more importantly, I can be home in the heart of it all.

Sturbridge has become a bedroom community. Most folks work outside the town, and many of them commute a distance. We may like to think of ourselves as being in farm country, but until the recent real estate debacle we grew more bedrooms than cows. Gone are the days of waking up, having a hearty breakfast and ambling out to the barn to put in a days work. Although, those days are gone from our neck of the woods for most of us, they are still here for others. As a result, we are blessed to have the very best of both worlds.

As a bedroom community we have more than what is required. First of all, we have the bedrooms. Houses, especially as of late, aren't in short supply here. We have fine schools, Little League, a dance studio, soccer teams, and softball leagues. We have a bar every half mile or so, two Dunkin' Donuts, and a Honey Dew. We have a Wal*Mart, a Marshalls, and two supermarkets. We have a 200 year old inn with a fine restaurant, a pub, and an excellent bakery. We have the Mill Stores and anything from beads to graphics to moccasins to lunch to furniture and clocks can be had there.

We have churches. A bunch of them. We have ball fields, and lakes to float on. Streams to jump over and a river to fish. We have little stores that sell everything from wrought iron drawer pulls, to antique textiles. We have a store for leather goods, firearms, and pet supplies. A couple of paint stores, and cell phone stores.

And, we have the people. I know more people by their first names in the short time I have been here than in the 25 years I spent just south of Milford on 495.

So, when folks ask me why I commute so far I usually tell them I have the best of two very wonderful worlds, and to me, I am blessed.

When we open our eyes, and look around us, and actually see the things we do have in our midst, we could all be very happy, grow more content, and eventually become complacent. Instead, we acknowledge it, and give thanks for what we have, and it gives us the drive to save it, care for it, and dream to improve it.

When I get off the Pike in the morning, and am driving home west on 20, Lead Mine Mountain rises up behind Old Sturbridge Village. This is Mary's favorite view. The morning mist, and sun play with the light on the side of that hill, and I smile. The drive was worth it.

I'm home.

"Marge, He's Talking About it Again."

Over the past several days I've been doing an excessive amount of thinking. This can be a dangerous thing since when I do it since I am usually doing something else at the time. Makes using the circular saw , driving, or eating with a fork a life or death activity, so I let other things slide a bit.

I've been thinking about the Oliver Wight House and the Lodges owned by OSV. As most of you know OSV tried to sell the property over the past year or so since it no longer was of value to them, and the cash would be a good thing. Recently it was thought that it was no longer on the market, but a recent search of commercial properties online show that it still is. I've written about what I would like to see at this spot, and today, I'd like to share more of my dream for it.

Now, just imagine this. If planned right, and designed correctly this piece of land right in the center of our town could be a God send. A sort of "doorway" to the area. A jumping off point. The location is superb. It allows for traffic to come in from the rear of the property, and from Route 20. There is space for substantial parking.

Now, hold on, here comes the rambling part.

I see the former motel units being retrofitted into shops, but not just any shops, fine shops with fine goods. An art gallery or two, a pottery or glass shop, a jeweler specializing in antique jewelry, an educational toy store, or one that sells fine hand made toys, an outdoor store for the hiker, walker, canoeist, a linen shop with fine quilts, and those sham things, a book store, maybe a children's book store, or one specific to central Massachusetts, a general store of sorts that sells maple syrup, honey, sundry items reflecting the area. A large part of the traffic that came here would naturally spill over to OSV. After all, it's at their doorstep.

This would be a great place to stop, shop, and start ones exploration of OSV, and the rest of our area. The Oliver Wight House could house the information center, or a center like it for maps, brochures and information. Meetings could be held upstairs. Displays of artifacts from our local history could be displayed as well. Think of the rest area on the Maine Turnpike, or the one on Route 91 in Vermont. Though, we could not be as big as those areas, we could offer something like it. There is nothing , except the Information Center on Route 20, for the tourists now.

Picture yourself driving up to Mass from New York, or Virginia, and all you want to do is rest for a little bit, maybe stretch your legs, and get your bearings. There is no place once you cross the Connecticut border into Massachusetts to do this. Oh, I know there is the rest area in Charlton on the Turnpike with an Information Center , but what if you aren't going that way? What good does it do for you?

There was talk a few years ago about a rest area and information center being built on Route 84. It's still not there, and we are doing the interstate traveler a big disservice by not having a place for them. I know the town of Holland is in talks with a large truck stop company, and they are planning to put one just off Route 84. That will help, but we need a lot more. Something to promote the area as well as a place to rest.

If you have ever driven down the East Coast you have noticed the wonderful rest / information centers that the other states have. In Maryland on I-95 they have several of them, right in the median. One, the Maryland House is a large brick building designed in the style of colonial Maryland. IN side is restaurants, restrooms, and upstairs with all sorts of travel information, maps, displays, a live person to help, side rooms for business travelers, and a meeting rooms. Outside, there is also a service station, and it is all surrounded by large trees. It is beautiful.

Do we need something like that? Most definitely. But, in the meantime we need to move quickly, on our own, since the state house has forgotten the plans for the rest area on I-84, and in the meantime travelers bypass us in the thousands.

Retrofitting this property at the doorway to OSV would be a wise step. Maybe a joint project with OSV, the town, and the Chamber of Commerce. OSV is asking $2.2 million for the property. That's a lot for a developer to spend on something that he will have to jump through hoops for in order to design a project acceptable to the town.

And, besides the property being the at the doorstep to OSV, we are at the doorstep for the rest of New England, and that is something we need to capitalize on.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sturbridge in 1890

The following description of our town is from Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer 1890.

Sturbridge is a thriving agricultural and manufacturing town of about 1,980 inhabitants, situated in the southwestern part of Worcester County, 60 miles from Boston. It is reached most nearly by the Southbridge Branch of the New York and New England Railroad, and readily also from Palmer, on the Boston and Albany Railroad. Brookfield forms its boundary on the north, Charlton on the east, Southbridge on the southeast, Holland and Brimfield on the west, and Union and Woodstock, in Connecticut, on the south.

The 145 farms in the town were reported in the recent census as yielding in 1885 products valued in the aggregate at $125,152. The principal manufacturers were the Sturbridge Cotton-Mill Company, employing in June, 1885, 286 persons; and the Snell Manufacturing Company, making augers and bits, and employing 50 men. Other manufactures were boots and shoes, carriages, wooden goods, clothing, beverages, soap, medicines and food preparations. The value of all goods made was $384,787. The number of legal voters was 415, and of dwelling-houses, 345. The valuation in 1888 was $975,107, with a tax-rate of $13 on $1,000. There are a good townhouse, a public library of about 3,000 volumes, and 13 public schoolhouses; the latter valued at $22,000. The churches are one each of the Baptists, Congregationalists and Unitarians.

The post-offices are Sturbridge (centre) and Fiskdale. The other villages are Snellville and Westville. Sturbridge village lies in a basin among the hills, and so embowered in foliage during the summer that only glimpses of its roofs and steeples can be seen from outside points. A little southward, on a small hill, stands the picturesque old mansion built about a century ago by Gen. Timothy Newell, and now owned and occupied by William Willard, the artist, a native of the town. The house is a noble specimen of early New England architecture; and the place, seen from the meadows to the west, with the arched stone bridge in the fore-ground, and the tops of the buildings just rising above the trees, has an aspect which places it among the finest of American "Old Homesteads."

Sturbridge was originally granted to petitioners from Medfield, when it was called "New Medfield." Its Indian name was Tantasque. It was incorporated as a town, June 24, 1738, and took its name from Stourbridge, in England.

"Henry Fiske, one of the original proprietors, and his brother Daniel, pitched their tent near the top of the hill which has ever since borne their name. They had been at work for some time without knowing which way they must look for their nearest neighbor; or whether, indeed, they had a neighbor nearer than one of the adjacent towns. At length, on a clear afternoon, they heard the sound of an axe far off in a southerly direction, and went in pursuit of it. The individual whose solitary axe they heard had also been attracted by the sound of theirs, and was advancing towards them on the same errand. They came in sight of one another on opposite sides of the Quinnebaug River. By felling two trees into the stream, one from each bank, a bridge was constructed, on which they were able to meet and exchange salutations. The unknown man of the axe was found to be James Denison, one of the proprietors, who, in the absence of a better home had taken lodgings in a cave which is still to be seen not far from Westville. In that lonely den he continued his abode, it is said, till a neighboring wolf, which probably had a prior claim to the premises, signified a wish to take possession; when Mr. Denison peaceably withdrew, and built him a house of his own."— Clark's Hist. Sketch of Sturbridge, 1838.

A soldiers' monument commemorates the 27 men lost by this town in the war of the Rebellion. Daniel Sanders, D.D. (1768-1850), an able clergyman and author; Samuel Bacon (l781-1820), a noted lawyer, editor and clergyman; and Erasmus Darwin Keyes (1811), a major-general of volunteers in the late war, were natives of this town.

pp. 623-625 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Huh? I Thought...Wait a Minute...It's Still for Sale??

I received this email regarding the Oliver Wight House and the Lodges owned by OSV today. Since we have heard recently that the property was taken off the market, were we wrong? Was it , but it went back on the market? Or is it just an old ad still hanging out on the web?

Dear Thinking,

I thought that you may be interested to see that this property is still listed.

Linda C.

Visit our website
(617) 723-1800

Joanna Rizzo Dresser
(617) 584-6855
E-mail Agent
Listing Information
Listing ID MA1061
Price $2,200,000
Type Land

Sq. Ft.

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Community Data
Community name Sturbridge
County Name Worcester
Total Population 3,792
Avg. Tax Bill $3,215
Avg. Prop. Value $172,132
Med. Household Income $66,534
Median Commute Time 29 mins
School Information
More photos: 1 2 3
Property Address: 371 Main St, Sturbridge
Commercial/Retail Development Opportunity: 8.86+/- acres of Commercial Tourist zoned land directly off Exit 9 of the Mass Pike, on southerly side of Main St. on US Route 20 corridor.Excellent visibility & prominent location near the entrance to Old Sturbridge Village. Continued use as lodging or retail development opportunity in a well-established community. Improved with 6 older motel bldgs & a ca 1800 dwelling. Possible new multi-tenant retail construction of 45,000 sq. ft. Additional 1.2 acre site with land lease can be included for additional $750,000.
Offered By

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Request a showing
(617) 723-1800

Joanna Rizzo Dresser
(617) 584-6855
E-mail agent