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
Monday, January 28, 2008
"Marge, He's Talking About it Again."
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.