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

Monday, January 25, 2010

Hey Kids!! Let's Put On A Bake Sale!

There are 262 acres of wood, and farmland up on Douty Street for sale. This land has been for sale off and on for a few years, but was recently placed back on the market. The land has been intact for over 300 years, and is beautiful. It is still used as a dairy farm today.

This is one piece of property the Town of Sturbridge would love to add to its growing wallet of parcels. The asking price for the land of $2.5 million. The Community Preservation Act funds have been tapped into to buy other pieces of land over the last few years, and there is not enough to buy this parcel as well.

Sturbridge now has to wait for the funds to grow again. The funds use a formula for a surcharge on property taxes, and the money obtained can be used for open space, affordable housing, recreation, and preservation.

I have no clue as to how long it would take to raise $2.5 million this way, but I am sure it will take a bit of time. But, will the land sell to a developer in the meantime?

Well, not if the town has its way. In 2007 the site failed the percolation tests for residential development, and, according to the newspaper, a sewer extension from Commonwealth Avenue is not an option.

I still find it peculiar that a Town as "up and coming" as Sturbridge still has not made it a priority to put sewer all over the town. Saving historic parcels of land is fantastic, but sewer lines throughout the town would be just that much better.

Anyway, getting back to the land on Douty Road. If it failed the perc test for septic, and an sewer extension from way down on Commonwealth Avenue is not an option, what kind of buyer will pay $2.5 million 262 unbuildable acres?

None, with the possible exception of a philanthropic conservationist.

So, the town will sit on it. It will wait it out, and hope like heck some blue blooded dairy preservationist don't come along and buy the farm for educational purposes. The town will wait it out, and when the owners get to the point where they realize that no one is going to buy the land with the restrictions on it, they will lower the price, and offer it to the town.

I'm not saying this will happen, but I am sure it has been thought of a few times.

It is a wonderful piece of property, high on a hill, with exceptional western views. There is nothing like it in town. If I were the owners, I 'd repeat the perc tests. I'd do them all over the place. We know that if the town acquires the land it will have septic. It will just happen.

Whatever happens to the land, I do hope the it becomes accessible to the public. Driving to the top of that hill, pointing the car west, and watching the sun drop below the hills in Munson on a summers night sure would be nice.

That view alone would be worth far more than $2.5 million, it would be priceless.

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