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, January 31, 2010

Dear Mr. Selectman, Enclosed Please Find A GPS To Help You Find A Clue

I've been biting my lip since yesterday. I can't keep quiet no more!

In Thursdays Tantqasqua Common newspaper, there was an article on page one regarding the wait for a sewer line on route 15 here in town. The article is about the need for sewer on Route 15, and the septic systems that are failing while residents and businesses wait for a sewer line to be approved and built.

It's an informative article. Tells of Sturbridge not moving too quickly, gotta get a study done first, gotta find the money for the study, then gotta think on it some more...

Nothing unusual there, small towns just work this way, and nothing unusual about a selectman speaking of the need for sewer on Route 15, and not putting a whole lot of thought into what he was saying.

"If Walker Pond was failing I can guarantee that we'd be doing something to get sewer up there, he said".

What was the selectman saying exactly? Was he saying that the Walker Pond neighborhood is seen as more important in the eyes of the selectmen than the Route 15 area? Why would they "do something to get sewer up there"? More friends in the Walker Pond area? More money?

Whatever the reason was that prompted the selectman to make the statement it really doesn't matter, he should never have made that particular statement. What he did was state that one neighborhood was worth more, and deserved faster attention than another.

OK, I think I know what he was trying to say, but did not say it at all, and the next few statements sort of confirm that this selectman has little clue.

In regards as to how to pay for the study of a sewer line on route 15 the selectman said,

"Let's implement an order that says if you own a sidewalk, then comply with the bylaws. Shovel it, instead of having the DPW do it at a cost of $25,000.00. We've got a part of town where the septic systems are failing, and we can't come up money. But we can come up with money to plow sidewalks I don't understand this."

Apparently, there is a lot the selectman does not understand.

First of all, the sidewalks in town are owned by the town. I don't believe there is one sidewalk that is along side a town owned roadway that is owned by a private party. A private party may have contributed to the construction of the sidewalk at one time, but in the end, the sidewalks belong to the town. Property lines end before the sidewalk. There may be an exception to this from 100 years ago, and never corrected, but this is the way it works.

If the town pays to put in a road with sidewalks, or maintains the sidewalks during warmer times of the year, such as when the DPW repaired the holes and cracks in the concrete sidewalks along Main Street a little while back, then guess what? They own them, and they will maintain them when it cold outside, too. That means clearing, plowing, shoveling, sanding, and making them safe.

Just as the private landowners clear the walkways on their property, the town has a responsibility to it's residents to do the same.

I have said this before, if the town does not clear the sidewalks, something they have always done, and residents are forced to walk in the street, in the traffic, and one of our residents is injured by a vehicle while doing so, the town would not have a leg to stand on in the lawsuit that would follow.

I don't know, $25,000 vs multimillion dollar lawsuit? Hmm.

Let's stop playing around. It is $25000.00. Take the money from the rainy day fund, or sell something. The town can't be that hard up for cash, and if we are, then we are in more of a world of hurt than not having sewer on Route 15. Then start the study, and put an emphasis of haste. Once the study comes in, then look it over, and if things are as bad as you say they are, the study will show it, and get digging.

You can't say things are failing, which will result in lost homes, and businesses, and then let a measly $25000.00 stand in your way.

Doesn't make any sense.

The next time I read something in the paper about the need for sewer on Route 15 I expect to read that the study will be conducted, the money has been appropriated to fund it, and the need to progress rapidly is stressed.

Just as if the Route 15 neighborhood was Walker Pond.

Old Route 15

I-84.svgConnecticut Highway 15.svg
Old Route 15 used to be an extension of Connecticut Route 15 (now I-84) before its truncation in 1980.

The number was formerly used for an extension of Connecticut's Route 15, nowInterstate 84. It connected the CT-15 from the state line in Holland with U.S. Route 20 and Interstate 90 (Massachusetts Turnpike) in Sturbridge. Sturbridge's Route 15 changed alignments several times over the years, as the Wilbur Cross Highway was upgraded to freeway standards (CT-15 used to run concurrently with I-84 to the state line, but was truncated in 1980 to its current terminus in East Hartford). Local lanes of the former Route 15 in Massachusetts are still in use today as Haynes Street, a road parallel to I-84 that ends at Main Street (Route 131) near Town Hall.

This section of road is still referred to locally as "Route 15" and signed as "Olde Route 15". It is also recognized as Route 15 by Google Maps, Yahoo Maps, and Microsoft Live Maps. [1][2][3]


  1. You are correct the person who made the statement about Walker Pond and sewers is clueless. You do not name that person. The Walker Pond neighborhood had an oportunity for sewer some years ago and voted it down. They did not want sewer or the expense. As for route 15 they (the trailer park) also had an oportunity for a sewer line a few years ago and withdrew the plan once they saw an on site septic system was much cheaper. There was a study done by the firm that is doing the waste water treatment plant and route 15 was left off as an area to get sewer due to excessive cost and land ideal for on site systems. Who is asking for another study?

  2. From the Tantasqua Town Common---"While selectmen have promised to look into ways to assist Route 15 property owners with a failing septic systems problem, they learned that any solution is probably not going to come fast enough.
    Interim Town Administrator Michael Racicot spoke with Tighe & Bond regarding ways to solve the problem by installing sewer connections.
    “They have put together a proposal to come up with options for that sewer,” he said. “But it’s going to cost in the neighborhood of $25,000. And basically what that will do is review the options and then come up with some cost figures. The reality is we’re still probably not going to be able to do anything for a while.”"

  3. We seem to find ways to buy up a lot of land thus taking it off the tax rolls, have an Olympic size swimming pool at the high school, put a slate roof on the town hall, we preserved the old school next to the old cemetery (when the original building located there was really the church which is now at Old Sturbridge Village), but we can't find ways to add needed sewer to route 15, which could promote business and bring in tax money? We seem to have nothing much happening, through the town of Sturbridge for affordable housing, other than one Habitat for Humanity house in the future. Just what is our main priority? Keeping Sturbridge affordable for only certain individuals? The history of this "historic" town included people from all walks of life. Who do we supposed worked at the mills?
    Why don't we do something we can be proud of up on Route 15? A couple centuries ago there was a "poor farm" up there for people who had no work. What's there now? There', not much. Is it really such a far stretch to think we might have some continuing education, and jobs coming to that area in this century? Preserving our history is a great thing but we need to learn from the past also and improve on it. We no longer have one room school houses. Let's not go back to using privies on Route 15.

  4. If septic systems are failing en masse along Route 15, then there is something either hydrological, or geological that has changed dramatically to facilitate this mass failure, although the systems may all be of the same age, and out lived their usefulness. If a septic failure of this proportion is happening now, or about to happen, then this becomes a public health crisis, and must be addressed immediately. Selectmen, it's your move.

  5. Garieri made the comment about Walker Pond Rd and about not plowing the sidewalks on Rt. 20. The additional info was asked for by the whole selectboard.

  6. Garieri made the comment about Walker Pond Rd and about not plowing the sidewalks on Rt. 20. The additional info was asked for by the whole selectboard.

  7. Clueless is a good description. I don't understand his statements about the sidewalks. the town built them, why do they not want to take care of them? I hope they don't decide not to plow the roads, too. where does he get these ideas? if the other selectmen consider not taking care of the sidewalks there will be big changes at the polls.

  8. Who understands anything Garieri says, or maybe the question is: why bother? He's one of the most illiterate, prejudiced, racist, sexist individuals in Sturbridge.


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