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 18, 2008

A Stream of Thought

In Greenville, South Carolina the Reedy River flows through the down town area. Old restored mills on the banks, flanked by gardens and walkways. A beautiful pedestrian bridge now stretches across the river taking the place an old ugly concrete structure. There are stores and shops above the river, and walkways leading down to the banks lined with flowers. People of all ages walk the paths, sit in the gardens, play in the playground and dine in the restaurants. This park was built by the people of Greenville, and not by raising the property taxes. How? You'll have to read about it. And, as you do, ask yourself, "Could we do something like this here?"

With inspiration, a will, and desire, anything is possible.

Just ask these folks if it was worth it.

And, tonight, as you lie in bed, just before you fall asleep, think of those pictures you saw on those websites, and think of how incredible having something like that here would be.

Just think.


  1. I wanted to write to compliment you on your postings today.

    I will drift off later tonight and keep the thought of the bridge over the river to Main Street. It is something I have felt passionate about for years. To read your constructive thoughts and look at your nice photos makes the dream seem more likely to come true. Earlier this week, I picked up a cup of coffee at the new Sturbridge Coffee House (A GREAT SPOT by the way!), and sat in my car for a few minutes, sipping the terrific cup, and facing the woods. I left there thinking that I want to get to the assessor’s office to see where that parking lot is in relation to the Riverland purchase. If it is where I think it is, the back yard to the Coffee House might be a prime location for a trail to the bridge that you are dreaming about. If my bearings were wrong I won’t fret, there are many places we can consider.

  2. I was thinking more of the old mill at the corner of 148 and 20, what a prime place for stores below, apartments above, but alas and alack we'd have to change the zoning. Personally I think that the Commercial Tourist Zone harms the Fiskdale area. While we're dreaming, can I add my wish, a parking area somewhere along Route 20 that both locals and tourists would benefit from.

  3. To anonymous,
    We think alike. I ahve writen about just what you proposed on this blog. It is a great idea. Zoning changes could be handled, especially if it had the ability to bring $$ to the town.

    Check out the link to the 1988 Master Plan. There is a map inside it, and there were proposals to have a public parking lot on Route 20 19 years ago. Wha' happened? Don't know, but you are right.

  4. Wow, it's all soul food man! Love the OSV video. Keep up the good work!

  5. I was just reading the posts under A Stream of Thought. The first link, "Greenville SC" doesn't work (at least, not from my computer). The rest of the links work fine and what a beautiful, and historic spot to attract visitors.

    I was picturing in my minds eye how that area behind Friendlies in downtown Sturbridge could actually be a shopping mecca with fantastic gardens, stone walls, picnic tables, maybe even an area for weekend art bizarres where artists can set up their booths and sell their wares. Maybe discount tickets to OSV, restaurants for lunch and/or dinner, and maybe a free pass to the OSV movie theater.

    I wonder if anyone has given any thought to expanding and/or building a theater into OSV? Turn OSV into a one-stop complex, mixing new and old, the best of both worlds, right in downtown Sturbridge?

  6. Thanks for the heads up about the broken link. All fixed. the vision you described in your comment is wonderful. I can imagine it. I wonder what it would take to "inspire" that kind of project. I think OSV would jump at it if it meant more people crossing the bridge to their place. Something to drop in the lap of the CEO of OSV, doncha' think?

  7. Dear Thinking:

    This is from Daily Reader. I'll forward the idea as you have suggested. I'm impressed that the man in charge of OSV right now has brought in 1 million! But maybe a movie theater isn't allowed at OSV because of zoning? Imagine though, the types of Sturbridge and neighboring town media that could be displayed at the movie theater: advertising local businesses and restaurants; eco-friendly places to visit in the region; special events; photographs of special places here.

  8. Dear D.R.,
    Maybe a huge movie theater wouldn't be a good idea around there, but all those other ideas would be awesome. Maybe a small outdoor stage. Can you imagine musicians from OSV playing across the river in a landscaped park. What a draw that would be to the other side of the river. Or maybe chamber music for the shoppers, or a jazz band on a Saturday afternoon...

  9. The OSV movie theater is charming right now, and inside the main entrance of OSV. Why not build a theater with an historic exterior facade that doesn't LOOK like a theater from outside. It could be inside the main entrance to OSV, like maybe that big gravel parking area is isn't completely full at high season, and have....3-4 screens? Something small. It could be tucked away, look like an old building and bring people right to OSV's front door.

  10. The shopping area behind Friendly's wtih gardens, etc. was brought before the Planning Board, informally, or perhaps it was ConCom, anyhow it wasn't met with any "wow's what an idea", all the negatives were brought out and so little encouragement as to be void.
    They wanted two resturants, of course that can't be because of the sewer moratorium, they were talking upscale shopping, fountains, perhaps strolling musicians in the summer, etc.

  11. Well, we don't need TWO restaurants there, that's for sure. We have enough in town. Whose idea was it for two restaurants? Upscale shopping: YES. fountains: Sounds nice. Strolling musicians, or live music during the day: Very nice. Since the land already has sewer, I don't think the moratorium would affect it

  12. Well, maybe it wasn't met with "wow, what an idea" because it wasn't a great idea? Maybe there are better ideas out there - just because one comes along, doesn't mean it's the best or the only one and the owner should grab it. Yes, let's build business! But lets be smart about it. I was driving east up Route 20 today and took notice as to how that plot of land so heavily impacts that section of Route 20. It's surrounded by fast food and other restaurants, but we are a town right off the intersection of main highways, right? We have been known to be a "tourist" town right? If Sturbridge gets an opportunity to build something that uses those buildings, or at least some of them, is that so bad? Would it be terrible if there wasn't another restaurant there? Maybe a place to get tapas, or, ask Friendlies to build a take-out window on the other side of their building. When I vacation to other parts of the world, I see such creativity in downtown areas - they've built enclaves of shops and boutiques, with bands playing, lush plantings, taverns, etc, surrounded by what some would consider blight; so what's there ain't so bad. Might wanna consider to that whatever is built there, could cause change elsewhere in the immediate neighborhood. Where the heck are all the open-minded, inventive, creative people at in this town?

  13. I'm sad to report that indeed OSV has taken this property off the market. Perhaps they'll try to develop it themselves. Can't be doing those buildings any good by staying empty.

  14. Why sad? If OSV was able to develop it themselves?

  15. Why sad, OSV seems to be hanging by a thread in the business that they know very well. Takes a lot of engineering, planning, i.e., big bucks and I just don't think they've got the money nor the expertise.

  16. Hmmm...I give OSV a lot of credit. They've received anonymous $1,000,000 donations, 2 years is it? They've reopened the Tavern for events and the food is outstanding. There are new programs, they've restaffed with interpreters so that when you visit, you can talk to a real person instead of read a sign. I think the new boss there is doing an outstanding job. He was handed a lemon, and he's making lemonade, with a great support staff and let's hope he continues to do so.

    I'm hoping that OSV will plant it's own seed. I thought about this the other day: do you agree that Sturbridge was built up around OSV? The hotels, the businesses, everything? To me, OSV can do it again; they need talent and good management - which they now seem to have; they need money -which is beginning to funnel in. They might need to think inwardly, reinventing themselves by combining history with modern, fun activities. Anything is possible.

    There's so much doom and gloom out there, and this town has had more than its share. If you haven't been to OSV lately, check it out. Even if you're a Sturbridge resident, pay to get in because that helps, it's worth it.

    OSV has carried this town for so long, it's about time the town rallies around it, well at least, that's what I think. It seems they now do have the expertise, and money will follow. Buck up bunky.


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