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
Sunday, April 5, 2009
First Up: Ted Goodwin
"One of the most frequent areas that people ask me about is our local economy. In that spirit, I’d like to share my thoughts on important economic development issues facing our town.
· I have supported and will continue to support hiring an Economic Development Coordinator. While there is not presently enough money in the budget in these difficult times, I will continue to work towards creating this valuable position. I believe that, over time, this position will more than pay for itself as new and professionally generated ideas come to fruition.
· During my first term on the Board, I encouraged consideration and voted in favor of a single tax rate. While the national economy is throwing punches at our local businesses, this change in the tax rate will bring them much-needed relief.
· Last year, I worked to build a coalition in order to gain support for the adoption of the valuable state-funded program, 43D. This program offers communities a tool for targeted economic development and enhances opportunities for growth and expansion. 43D encourages landowners to market their valuable industrial land in a way that ultimately will bring more good jobs and additional tax revenue to Sturbridge.
· I would like to see the town create its own local priority development sites. We can create the same guarantee as the state has established for 43D sites for our own empty spaces like Basketville and Roms. This new approach can be a way to target, market and facilitate the refilling of our most significant empty storefronts.
· I have met one-on-one with the president of the Chamber of Commerce, the Chair of the Economic Development Committee, the President of OSV, Finance Committee members, business owners, and residents, all with the goal of working together in a collaborative effort to better our town. I have worked to explore ideas and gather knowledge from others to better understand our town’s most urgent needs and the paths to best approach them.
· There’s no question we’ve gone through the painful process of losing stores, just like nearly every Main Street in the country. Nationally, retail vacancies reached a 10-year high in the fourth quarter. Another 150,000 store closings are expected this year. The hard truth is that Main Streets across the country are suffering. While our own town budget is in better shape than nearly every other town in central Massachusetts – many are firing staff and cutting aid – we do have important challenges to face.
· To reverse this trend of business vacancies, if I am re-elected, during my next term on the Board I would like to work toward revitalizing our Commercial Tourist District. The Town is working with Central Mass Regional Planning to suggest improvements for this important area. We need to work hard to be in a position to strive for growth on Main Street, so that when the economy bounces back, we are ahead of the curve. This area must become more pedestrian friendly, and we need to consider tax incentive programs for businesses and landowners who work toward enhancing their curb appeal.
· I will strive for tax-positive growth. We need to encourage projects which bring in more tax dollars than their cost of services. Route 15 is an area where we can plan for growth that generates tax dollars, creates good jobs and adds value to the neighborhoods in the area. The current zoning of Route 15 allows for recreational facilities, medical offices, and light industry. In addition, the Route 15 area contains sandy soil suitable for on-site sewerage treatment that will save millions of dollars on an unnecessary sewer line.
· While some of my opponents may try to convince voters that they are the only candidates who support local businesses, I have to respectfully disagree. What sets me apart from some of the other candidates for Selectman is that while I strongly support local business and tax-positive growth, I always consider neighborhoods as important parts of my decision-making. My priority is balancing healthy growth with quality of life for residents and business owners alike.
Considering a wide variety of viewpoints carefully is how the best decisions can be made. I have worked hard during my first term on the Board and if re-elected, I will continue to listen to residents and business owners in my efforts to maintain a much needed balance in our community.