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, December 29, 2008
Buildings And The Brook
This brook is one of the last areas in Massachusetts where Brook Trout reside east of the Berkshires. They are there because the area has not been "touched" by man for decades. They have not been "fished out" of the area, either. When the dams are taken down, and free access to the Quinebaug River is allowed for these fish, what then? They'll swim down stream to Southbridge, get sucked through the inlet at the Westville Dam, and then off to parts unknown.
No more Brook Trout.
I've been told that they won't venture that far, and they will return to brook to spawn. I hope so.
I also am having a hard time seeing the ponds disappear. I know they are man made, but they are beautiful. I'd hate to see them gone.
I'd like to have some reassurance about the trout, and just how the area will look after the dams are gone. Also, there is another pond at the top of the mountain that flows into the brook. this pond may have started out being a small one at one time, but beavers have dammed it against an old stone wall a the crest of the hill, and it is quite large now. The overflow runs down the mountain at an incredible pace, like a waterfall, and follows the tract of a stream that has been there forever. It flows between the stone remnants of an old mill. Will the plan to restore Hamant Brook involve removing the beaver dam as well? It is only a matter of time before it bursts on its own, and the volume of water held back will destroy anything positive done down stream.
Another thing that has been on my mind is the Town Hall / Center School Project. I expected things to be in progress at this date, but there have been meeting after meeting, and a lot of things to discuss, and work out. It is not the simple plan of refurbishment I thought it would be at the Town Meeting. I think they should put it on hold, and build a NEW Town Hall.
I am all for restoration, and using historic facilities to our best advantage, but to restore, retrofit, refurbish both buildings that have minimal parking, and awkward access I feel would not be the best way to go.
Build a new building somewhere else in town, and use some money to stabilize the deterioration of the Center School and current town hall until they can be salvaged for other purposes at a later time.
A new building can be designed to fit into the character of our town, and overall the cost of building new may be less expensive than retrofitting old building in the long run.
One thing I don't want to see is a grand restoration, and a few years down the road we have out grown the space of the two older buildings. It will happen eventually.
Parking is another issue at the current town hall site and across the street at the Center school. The town does not own any of its parking behind the town hall, the Federated Church owns it. The parking across the street is minimal, and the only access to the few lots behind the Center School is on one side of the building.
I know that the intention is a good one. We don't want these two old building to fall further in to disrepair, and saving a part of our heritage is always a good thing, but I guess the pragmatic side of me is coming out. A modern, well designed new building located elsewhere in town on land that would supply ample parking would be ideal.
So, what to do with the other buildings? Put them in mothballs till the time and money is there to refurbish them and utilize them for other purposes.
I know, kinda late in the game to be expressing this opinion, but I feel better, and I hope the towns current plan works out well.
I can't wait to see the results.