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, July 9, 2009

Attic Clearance

Just some rambling thoughts that have been knocking about upstairs for awhile.

I really like the temporary site for the Town Hall and offices. Well sited, great parking, and if we didn't have the Old Town Hall to go back to next year, it would be an ideal. I know, I know the restoration of the Town Hall and the Center School will be fantastic, but for a temporary setting, we couldn't have asked for better.

My grandson went to the playground down off Cedar Street, on the lake, in the early spring, and was disappointed that the swings and see-saw were gone. In their place was these climbing things. Nice to upgrade the playground, but what about the swings? Too much of a liability? Was maintenance an issue? Swinging can be either exiting, or fairly mindless. Teaching a child how to "pump" their legs in order to keep the swing going on their own is rite of passage from toddler hood to young child. As a child gets older, there is nothing quite like sitting in a swing, next to a friend, and just talking 'bout stuff. Climbing things are OK, but they require more active participation, and once climbed over once, then what?

I'll take swings anytime.

We were pleasantly surprised to find a "Sadie Greens" in Ogunquit. Apparently the Sturbridge gift, jewelry, and treasure store has several places in Maine. I am out of the loop in a lot of things, and this was one of them.

Still thinking about how neat it would be to have an LL Bean, or some such large outdoor retail store here in Sturbridge. Location is fantastic, and the folks it would draw from all over would spill into other places in town.

Another thing I have thought about is "Outlet Shops". Real outlets, not just stores that attach the word "Outlet" to their name as is often the case down Wrentham, Kittery, and North Conway. Talk about a great traffic draw. Route 15 maybe?

The motel on the corner of New Boston Road, and Route 20 is no longer in business. Just an empty building is all that remains. We won't miss the motel rooms, but I wonder, what would be something that would fit in that spot now? No, not another block of stores. Maybe some batting cages, or miniature golf? I know, Crystal Caves wanted to build a complex here in Sturbridge a few years ago, but it never go the support of the town. Would be nice, though. Route 15 instead?

I hear that the Subway on Main Street in Fiskdale is going to move to the spot in the Market Place at the Falls where Melindas Menu was until recently. The landlord told the owner of Melinda's Menu to pack up and head out, because Subway was going in there. That sucks.

The only place in town that one can buy art from the artists at their own "studio" is Sturbridge Pottery on New Boston Road. Their pottery is fantastic. I think Sturbridge could use a few more galleries and studios in town. If you are an artist, or sculptor, give it some thought. Be nice to see something like that on Main Street.

Is it time to build a bigger Post Office in Sturbridge, or is quaint and tiny going to get us through the next ten years or so? Just a thought.

Will the bus ever come back to Sturbridge? I don't know, but I think there would be enough people along Route 20, between Auburn and Springfield, that would use the bus. Every town needs some form of mass transit for its residents to use to get out of town, and for those already out of town, to come on in. Not everyone has a car, or chooses to drive.

I think that Sturbridge should take back Route 20 from the state.

I like those American flags placed on the telephone poles along Main Street. It's about time. Flags, banners, and flower beds are the "window dressing" to any town. When a visitor drives through town, and sees these little things they know the town is "alive". A town devoid of the little things is "cold", and comes across as just one more place on the map to drive through. Flowers planted along the road, and seasonal things like flags on telephone poles during the holidays shows that people actually live here, and they care how their town looks, and is seen by others.

We're on track with taking care of the little things.

I'd like to see a list of what roads in town are considered "Scenic", and I'd also like to see signs designating them as such. Brookfield has done an outstanding job in this regard lately. We should follow their lead.

There should be a movement in town to take back the view. We could call it, something like, I don't know, how about "Take Back the View". There are so many places in Sturbridge that at one time had wonderful views, but are now overgrown and forgotten. I'm all for trees, but I am also all for the beautiful views our town has to offer. If one wants to see trees, look to the left, if one wants to enjoy a fantastic view, look to the right. Areas along Route 148 beside Long Pond had an incredible view of the lake at one time. Along Route 20 beside Cedar Lake is another place, and on Route 20 heading into Brimfield. These are all places that would generate "oooh's and aaah's" from residents and travelers alike if the view was restored. All it takes is some planning, a chainsaw, and a chipper, and Voila! It's like changing the curtains in your living room from heavy winter drapes to a summery white lace. Same room, whole different feel.

OK, I've emptied out a lot of the excess from the "attic" this morning. It's like a yard sale. Take a few ideas, and thoughts, throw them out there for others to look over, and if they like them, they'll take them with them when they sign out, if not they'll leave them for someone else.

I feel lighter already.

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