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

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Wind May Be Changing

I have a feeling that Sturbridge is on the cusp of pulling out of the doldrums. I can't explain it, but I am usually right when I get these feelings. It seems that the stars are falling into alignment.

People are willing to take risks, and that is always a good sign. Take for instance Pioneer Brewery located here in Sturbridge. These successful entrepreneurs are willing to make a grand move into the old Basketville building on Main Street across from Cedar Street. It is a bold move. They would be moving from their established digs at the Hyland Orchard on Arnold Road to a new place that will need to be completely retrofitted into a brewery. They aren't alone, either. B.T.'s Smokehouse and the Sturbridge Coffee House are also joining in on the adventure.

These three Sturbridge businesses have seen a lot of success over the past couple of years, and as a result, they are doing what successful businesses do: grow.

This is something one didn't see here in town in recent history. Businesses either maintained the status quo, or faded away. Growth, and expansion was not even on the agenda. Being safe was. If this move goes forward, and all three businesses join in as planned, it will not only add another "must see" destination to the travelers itinerary, but will serve as an example to others here in town.

It will also be a barometer.

Folks are going to watch this new enterprise very closely, and if they see some success happening at that old red building on Main Street, they may stick their toes into the water as well.

This is how momentum is formed.

I wish Pioneer Brewing, B.T.'s Smokehouse, and the Sturbridge Coffee House the very best of luck in this adventure.

On the other side of town there is a bit of a flap over a new business wanting to get started. On what once was the parking lot of the former Rom's Restaurant, a combination gas station, and convenience store would like to set up shop. Some feel we already have enough gas stations here in town, and are against it, and others feel we have enough convenience stores as well. I count seven gas stations in town, and six convenience stores. They are spread over a pretty wide area with none serving the area of town from the start of Route 131 to the Mobil gas station a couple of miles south. There is a Mobil station on Route 20 near the start of Route 131, but one has to be heading east on Route 20 to use it. A convenience store at this location may be, well, a convenience, for those living in the area. It would also take some "in & out" customers from the Shaw's Market as well.

Lot's to consider with this one, but any business that is willing to plunk down the dollars in a new venture here in town has hopefully done it's homework, and they find that this is a good investment. The big question is do we need it?

Well, if it is to be done it has to be done right. It has to be designed right. For decades gas stations were designed to sit back form the street, and face the roadway with their pumps directly in front of the building. As convenience stores were added to them, this design changed little, and parking was not convenient. In the past couple of years I've noticed a change in how gas stations are placed on a plot of land. The main building is set back from the roadway, and no longer faces the road directly, but rather at an angle as high at 90 degrees. The pumps are set back from the roadway as well, and often line two sides of the building. At times there are other separate businesses in the same building with the gas station/convenience store such as a coffee shop. The entrance to the business from the road is curved slightly to make the flow of traffic safer as opposed to the current slide in, slide out to the pumps design, and the exit is equally well thought out.

In Maine, we have frequented a gas station similar to this right off the Maine Turnpike on Route 1 in the Kittery area. It is new, modern, and blends in very well to the landscape. Locally one can see similar designs on Route 9 West a little past Klems in East Brookfield, and on Route 146 just a couple of miles south of the Masspike.

These designs not only are safer, more convenient, but take into consideration the landscape in the area. If this business is approved, I am sure those at the Town Hall will insist on a design similar to those I've mentioned.

A new business wanting to set up shop here in town is a good thing. Whether we actually need a particular business, or not is something for further discussion, but just the idea that one wants to come to town is encouraging.

Yep, I see things heading in the right direction around here. Investments such as these have a way of spawning more growth, and more business as well.

Now, all we have to do is wait and see.


  1. You are forgetting about Jack's gas and the gas station, convenience store across from Kahula. Both are less then 1 mile from Rom's on 131. We do have plenty of gas stations but they can be done right like the Comfort Inn and Suites a hotel with a gas station next to it.

  2. I count 9 gas stations in town, Jack's, Mobil across from Kahula,Mobil next to Friendly's, Cumberland Farms, C&R tire, Bee Zee gas, subway-dunkin-donuts-gas station complex, Pilot, and the Mobil at Breakneck rd. Are there any more ? I am not sure.

  3. I included Jack's Gas in my count, and the Mobil station across from the Kahula is the one I was referring to a couple of miles south on 131.

  4. I count 10 gas stations in Sturbridge
    2. Mobile across from Kahula
    3.Mobil 20/131
    4.the one next to Georges pizza
    5. Cumberland Farms
    6.C&R Tire
    7.Bee Zee rte 20
    8.Citgo Extra Mart rte 20
    9. Pilot rte 15
    10.Mobil rte 15

  5. Cripes. I forgot to count Pilot, the Route 15 Mobil and C&R tire!!
    My bad.


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