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

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Just Makes Sense

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the Town Hall / Center School Project. I suggested that maybe those buildings, as historical as they are, may not be worth the money at this time in our economy to restore them for use as town offices. As I wrote that piece I felt, like I sometimes do when I write about things in town, that my thoughts are not felt by others as enthusiastically as I feel them.

But I try, 'cuz ya never do know, someday I may just get it right.

This morning I read in the Telegram and Gazette that the Town Administrator, James Malloy suggested that the Town Hall project be abandoned due to the ever increasing costs to refurbish the old buildings.

Common sense has finally peeked out from under the sheets of local government.

The Town Administrator offered an alternative as well. He suggested looking further into the building recently left vacant by a business in town when it moved to a larger space in the office park on the west end of town.

Extraordinary. Not only common sense, but a possibly viable option as well.

The town has grown beyond the need for offices for the Town Clerk, Building Inspector, Tax Assessor, and Selectmen amongst a myriad of others. The building would suffice if it was 1912, but with the needs of today it just doesn't cut it. A comfortable, uncluttered work environment is needed for those that work within its walls. Room for storage, meetings for more than 50 people, space for equipment, and just the daily business of the town is needed. Easy, and safe access is also needed for residents and employees.

The old buildings should be left as is for now. Mothball them until the time is right to restore them into something that the town can still use, but not in the way a Town Hall would be utilized. They are historic, and must be kept. We cannot continue to tear down our heritage as has been the case over the years.

We will find a purpose, and a way.

In the meantime, let's continue to explore our options. The building on Route 20 may not be the one, but it shows that heads are thinking, and sharing those thoughts with the rest of us is a good thing.

Yes, thinking out loud is a very good thing.

Addendum: To see photos of the Town Halls other communities have in our area click here.


  1. I think All-Star would be a great spot - plenty of parking and plenty of space. Busy location but easy to get to.

    My worry is that there are those who don't care about the historical aspect of the town buildings(as a matter of fact - they make fun of those that do care). They are so concerned about the dollars involved with salvaging any building - they would rather see them bulldozed because it is cheaper. They don't have that "connection" to historical Sturbridge that others have. It is purely economics for them. If it lowers taxes then it is a good thing-period. If it increases taxes and adds no economic value - not a good project. Because "Sturbridge has to grow or we will wither away". (Our surrounding towns - Brimfield, Holland, Wales etc. must be REALLY withered away!)

    It all comes down to dollars sadly. Can you imagine some people's reaction if you went to town meeting to fund millions for the current town hall to become ie. a cultural center? They would laugh in your face! It certainly isn't going to get cheaper if we wait either!

    I hope people do care & I am VERY wrong!

  2. Oh, I think that people care about some of our old buildings but there does come a time when you must also think about pocketbook issues. Some still have their jobs, and will get a pay raise, but there are also those who have lost their jobs, who are retired and are having a tough time having ends meet.
    When you think about it, Town Hall is too small, the Senior Center is too small, maybe just maybe the AllStar property could house both.
    Tear down Town Hall, no, but it really isn't historically correct, but it is worth saving and in time could make a great Historical Museum for Sturbridge.
    In the meantime, we voted for a treatment plant, we need a new elementary school, we need a new town hall, and we need to have a reasonable tax rate so people can afford to remain in Sturbridge.
    Think our Town Administrator is on the right tract to at least look into alternatives.

  3. It seems that the Town Administrator may be onto something here. The old town Hall would make a great Cultural Center, I agree, and the Center School could be utilized in another way as well. Keeping our history is important, but to assign them new roles is not only important, but wise as well. Maybe gut the town hall and make it into Senior housing. the Center School could be made into condos. Why not? We save the buildings, and reassign them to a use that will take them well into the next century.


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