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

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Saturday Morning Musings

Years ago I lived in a town in Norfolk County near I-495.

I didn't like it. I didn't like it for various reasons, but one thing I did like was the town supplied trash collection at the house, and containers for recycling. It took me awhile to get into the recycling habit, but after some time, I did.

Here in Sturbridge things aren't that easy. One can recycle if one brings their recyclables to the Recycling Center, but if you have home trash pickup you must pay extra for the recyclables to be picked up.

That's not a very "green" thing to do, but since the trash collectors are private, and not hired by the town, like in the other town I lived in, we have little control.

Times have changed. It may be time to put some by-laws into effect regarding curbside trash pick-up here in town, or put town trash collection out to bid. If structured right, there would be a reduction in fee's, but the winning company would be assured of an increased customer base over time. Other companies could still operate, but if they charged more than what the town did, then they would need to compete with those fee's.

Recycling is needed for every household in town, but for it to work it needs to be convenient, and most of all free. Maybe a Recycling Center satellite drop-off center would be a good thing. A place closer to the center of town just for the dropping off of recyclables. Driving 3 miles just to drop off some newspaper and milk jugs isn't an energy friendly thing to do.

About a year ago I went to the Fiskdale Post Office and spoke with the Postmaster about the roadside mailboxes along Route 148. I asked her if it could be changed from having the mailboxes all on one side of the road to having mailboxes on both sides of the road. It seems in the section I live in had the one sided mailboxes as a forgotten carryover from when Route 148 was a country road. That all changed when the road was widened 15 years ago, and the 18 wheeler traffic increased as did the vehicle speeds. I would watch, holding my breath, as my elderly neighbor waited patiently to cross the road to get to her mailbox each day, or as the young mother up the road struggled across the road with one kid in her arms and the other by the hand just to get the mail.

The Postmaster agreed that it would be something to look into. She gave me a form, and instructed me to to have all those affected along the road sign it. She also told me to write in the reason for the requested change was one of safety. Well, a lot has happened over the past year, and to tell the truth, I was not good in following through with my plan. I did mention it to a neighbor though. A very strong, and no nonsense neighbor. She has worked in the bureaucratic world herself and loves to take on a challenge.

This summer she took her concerns about the mailbox placement to the Postmaster, and within a week or so she was informed that her plan to allow mailboxes on both sides of the road was approved by those in power. The effective date was August 15th.

She told me what she had done, and how it had come about one July day, and I was amazed. She did it. No petition drive, just common sense and her concern for the safety of others.

It worked.

On that weekend of the effective date I watched as my neighbors erected new mailbox posts, and placed new mailboxes on them on their side of the road. No more dodging the bullet to get the mail on this NASCAR Speedway we locally call Route 148.

Which leads me to another thought, the long overdue speed reduction here on Brookfield Road, but that is fodder for another post.

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