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, January 4, 2008

A Couple of Things From the Front Office

OK, seems we have got some momentum going here.

This Blog has become a repository for ideas and feedback, and it seems that most everyone is on the same page. Oh, sure, there are claims and counterclaims about all sorts of issues, and this is something that I don't want to get into, but having opened this venue for discussion I have to keep it open for opposing point of view as well, (long pause) to a point.

Keep in mind my purpose is to "ignite", note "incite". I don't want our energies being spent in "flame wars" with "former friends". That can be handled on ones My Space page.

Since we all are on the same page, and we tend to agree with what needs to be done, we now need to take it to the next level. Discovery and acknowledgment were first, now we need to record what needs to be done, and to do it right we need to know what is currently going on, and the plans the town has, or doesn't have so we can combine them. If they were posted on the Town web site it would be easy. After that is done, we need to present our findings to the appropriate Boards with the plan for the towns involvement, and our involvement. The sole purpose of this is offer up ideas as of yet not thought of, to volunteer our time to assist the town in achieving it's plans in a TIMELY fashion, and to "connect" the plans to the rest of the town so they will have a positive effect on the people and businesses here.

Whoa. Dude, we're gonna do what?

We are going to make our town a better place by our involvement (the residents). We are going to get our hands dirty.

So, let me start with some questions that you can answer to help make our plans more cohesive. You can send your answers to this blog under comments, or directly to If you have meeting minutes, maps, or other information you would like to share. If I get any actual plans, minutes, or maps, I will post them on the document section of this Blog for those to view. There will be a "Plan of Action" for those to add to, and edit as well.

The questions:

1) What exactly is the plan for the OSV land, and where do we stand at this point in achieving the completion of the current plan? Who are the contact people?

2) Is there "wiggle room" in the current plan within the restrictions in the deed?

3) What is the plan for new land purchased south of the river between Stallion Hill Road and Holland Road?

4) Is there a map available for the recent purchases to be better able to visualize them?

Let's start with answering these 4 questions. The answers will lead to more questions, plans, and details to be worked out in association with the committees. Keep in mind, we are fostering not only ideas, but also fostering a volunteer effort as well. The Town will need volunteers to assist with the completion of plans. We want to be able to assist the Town in completing the projects in a timely manner, and not as a retirement project for most of us. Above all, we want to be a positive influence. No name calling, no incendiary thoughts or remarks. Difference of opinion? Yes. Disagreement with a plan? Of course, but not without a counter plan.

And, just a few more questions, what is the current status of the Grand Trunk Trail? How close are we to extending it beyond the new foot bridge? Where will its next terminus be? Will the trail be covered in stone dust / sand to allow bicycles? When? Are there plans to mark certain geographic / landscape items of interest and put them on a map for educational purposes? Is there a map of all the trails in town, both public, and private? If not, who would like to make one? A simple map, directions on how to get to the trail head, length of the trail, sights to see on the trail, parking would be great. Then get it printed, and off to the Information Booths. We could even have ads on it aimed at the walkers and hikers from local businesses.

Finally, let's continue to keep this space productive. Please leave old issues alone, and not revisit them here. They drag us down, and slow the process. Find that "former friend", give them a hug, or buy them a beer, and move on. Everyone that has offered a comment on these pages has something positive to offer, and those that don't can voice themselves on other places on the net designed for beating dead horses to death.


  1. These are great questions, but will take some time to answer. I have asked Tom Chamberland to participate because he can probably update about the Grand Trunk, and I've invited others who are familiar with GTTB to chime in as well.

    I've also asked a member of the PLAC to participate. And people on the Rec Committee.

    Let's see who responds, and I'll fill in the gaps where I can.

  2. Dear Thinking: check your gmail. You have some info to get you started.

    With help from my friend David, I am in process of creating a slide show of the various open space parcels in town. It is to be used on the town's cable access channel, and it has already been approved for this use by the town administrator. But it will have other applications too.

    When it's done, I'll send it to you as well. This is a positive, proactive step that I initiated for the town. I hope it is enjoyed by everyone.

  3. Carol,
    Thank you very much. I received a comment from Tom, and he did offer to help where he could. Obviously,the more folks we can muster that are involved in other aspects of the town committees the more successful we will be. Thank you.

    I will watch my email. Would like me to post the slide show here, or is it only for cable?

  4. Dear Thinking: I see no reason why it can't be posted here or anywhere. It's a gift to the town from David Aho and's not just for the towns cable access. And I would say that anyone who wants copies of these photos should contact me and we'll be happy to share. The town's volunteers are doing their best to bring these properties up to speed in terms of public access, it just takes time. But at least, the slide show will give them a glimpse of things to come.

    Go ahead and post it; I will send an updated version in a couple days once I find out the exact name of the former OSV parcel. It is no longer owned by OSV, but that is what it's best known by..still, I believe MA Wildlife has a proper name for it...or maybe PLAC.

  5. Briefly, Let me bring everyone up to date on the Grand Trunk Trail (GTT). The town has requested and is awaiting a release of $50,000.00 of the federal earmark funds
    ($480,000.00) to complete the required design and permitting phase. I anticipate this portion to take about 6-8 months. At that point it will be up to Mass Highway to construct the trail (using the remaining funds). So hopefully by end of summer, 2010 this 3.8 mile portion of the trail from West Street in Southbridge to the River Rd/Farquhar Rd intersection will be complete. As for going further west, OSV has indicated an interest in the trail and the Town recently purchased one of two needed sections to bring the trail to Holland Rd. From there, using the section of trolly trail and on to the Corps East Brimfield land is proposed. The Corps of Engineers recently partnered with the Town of Brimfield and their bike committee and is working on the plans to extend the trail about 5 miles into the center of Brimfield. To the East the Town of Southbridge trail committee has identified the sidewalk connection from the GTT to the Quinebaug River trail(QRT), bring the trai;l into the town of Webster. The QRT has recieved both state funding ($200,000.00) and federal earmark funding $670,000.00 for design and construction and that process is moving along. It is forseeable that by 2014 we could have something close to 20 miles of linear trail. Please note I have listed proposed sections and that there are still several private property issues that remain to be addressed. If anyone wants more detailed information please email me at

  6. Tom,

    Thank you for sharing this information. I am sure there are many out there that will enjoy reading it, and be as excited as I am to see what the actual plans are, and where we are on them. For those would like to volunteer to help finish the trails, and maintain them, who should they see? Are there other needs?

  7. Dear Thinking: Any one wanting to volunteer to help with any trail in town can contact either my self or Pat McGarrah at: .

    Pat is chair of the Sturbridge regional trail committee. (did you know the Town does not have a "trail committee" but only one to work with the Corps and neighboring towns on the GTT) The next community volunteer day is set for this April 19th, 2008 from 8 am to noon and is regional in in focus as it is hosted by the Corps, and the three local towns involved in the GTT. The event will organize at the Westville Lake Park. Project lists are currently being developed. The next regional trail meeting is on Monday Jan 14th 6:30 Pm at the American Legion Hall, 507 Main St. Any one interested in learning more about the GTT and the planning group, or want to sign up for the next trail day is welcome to attend. If you are making a calender of events, National trails day (NTD)is the first Saturday in June (7th) and again out at Westville Park, (a real chance to build up those low #'s) NTD events usually focus on discovering our trails and the groups that promote local trails. In the Fall, Sept, 27th. is National Public Lands Day (NPLD), again 8 - noon, hosted out at Westville. a Broad based effort for volunteers to help maintain THEIR public lands. Last year at this event we had 60 volunters show up and actually ran out of prepared projects!

  8. Tom,

    Thanks for the update. As you know, the land trust backed out of working on trails in 2000/2001 because we're not a trail org, we're an open space conservation org, and we had projects lining up - those projects haven't stopped either :)

    That said, is there some assistance needed in terms of talking with landowners who own private sections of the trail? I might be able to help there, much in the same way I dio with the Southbridge/Sturbridge end, which unfortunately, fell through the cracks when I left the committee.

    If so, please contact me offline.



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