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

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Time To Sit And Listen

Sometimes we need to call in the Pros.

We may have all the best intentions, work our gluteus maximus to the bone, and although we make some headway, we could really do it better, and faster with a little input from an expert. For a person to seek help from outside their circle of influence is a big thing. Number one, you can't be the least bit egocentric, mature enough to know your limits, and realize that seeing the same thing through another set of eyes has a way of opening up a lot of possibilities that would be otherwise overlooked.

Not many of us that fit that description.

One person does: Tom Chamberland.

Tom emailed me Thursday morning regarding my recent posting about town land, and what he shared with me is brilliant, and considering the source, it does not surprise me. Tom is a jack-of-all-trades around town. When he is not working for the Army Corps of Engineers as a Park Ranger, he is the towns Tree Warden, a Scout leader, an organizer and volunteer trail builder, writes a column in the local paper, and is the towns Veterans Agent. He does it all. In fact, I think he spayed my cats last summer, too.

Sometime in November, Tom attended a Trail Symposium and met a man named John Morton of Morton Trail, LLC, and shared what has been going on in Sturbridge regarding recent land acquisitions, and trail buildings. Tom also shared his vision for the trails in town. The following is from the Morton Trails web site.

"Founded by two-time Olympian John Morton, Morton Trails provides expert guidance in the planning, design, and construction of sport and recreational trail systems for cross country skiing, walking, running, hiking, biking, snowshoeing, equestrian and other outdoor activities. We also help landowners, state and local governments, developers, non-profits, and other organizations create sustainable, economically vibrant, active outdoor communities.
Our services include: (Click the bold links below.)

Trail planning
Trail design
Competitive venue design
Real estate and economic analysis
Construction oversight

Large or small, private or public, urban or rural, trails are now recognized as one of the most highly valued amenities for communities and property owners. On the following pages, you will find additional information about our work, how to contact us, and how we may be able to help you with your project."

"John Morton is the founder and a Principal of Morton Trails, involved in the design of over 100 trail projects across the United States and abroad. A seven-time Olympic participant, twice as an athlete for the US Biathlon Team and most recently as Chief of Course for Biathlon events at the Salt Lake City Olympics (2002), John began designing trails in 1989 after eleven years as head coach for the Dartmouth College Ski Team. He is a graduate of Middlebury College and served in the US Army in South Vietnam, released from active service at rank of Captain in 1972. In addition to remaining a competitive runner and skier, John is a frequent commentator on Vermont Public Radio and author of the novel Medal of Honor. He is a certified course homologation inspector for the FIS (International Ski Federation)."

Soon after the symposium, David Lindahl of Morton Trials followed up with Tom by email. He offered to help Tom out with the ideas he has had about the trails in town, and how to make the very most of them. Tom got right on it, and about a week and a half ago he forwarded his emailed conversations with Morton Trails off to some of the "movers and shakers" here in town, and ran his idea by them to have the folks from Morton Trails come into town:

"...there has been a lot of general discussion in the town on Ecotourism the work these people do may be something we may want to explore further. With the close proximity of Leadmine Mt , Heins farm lands to the Quinebaug river lands and partnering with OSV the potential of putting together a program that would be large enough and able to support itself is possible."

This could very well be the kick we need.

So far, Tom has heard back from some of the people he brought his proposal to, and is waiting on the rest. It's been just under a couple of weeks, but I am sure Tom will hear back from the others very soon. Just sitting down with those folks from the Conservation end of things, the town administrator, a rep from OSV, and others with a vested interest in the land to listen to the people from Morton Trails would be priceless.

This is a no brainer. Call in people with some experience and know how, and sit quietly and listen to what they have to say.
I'll be waiting to hear how it goes.

For more information go to

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