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, March 15, 2010

Hey Kids, Let's Form A Committee!!

Let's read the papers!

This week I read in the local newspaper that local officials are trying to simplify the management of the public land here in Sturbridge.
S'about time. Always seemed a bit overdone with all the hands in the mix.

The Conservation Commission, the Public Lands Advisory Committee, the Trails Committee, the Squirrel 'n Nut Foundation, all overlap their duties. Redundancy at its best, and small towns are usually so much better at avoiding redundancy, that is something the Federal Government handles very well.

Problem was, and still is, that so much has happened with land acquisition, and land use in the past ten years that as the town moved in different directions, and a new committee was thought to be needed when one was already in place to take care of any issues.

Some members of the Conservation Committee are worried that some of their official duties are being taken over by newly formed committees and boards. There is a problem when that occurs. New committees are formed for new reasons, and their purposes cannot overlap existing committee duties unless so designed.

Seems it happened here in town a few times.

Another thing that has happened is with the establishment of new committees, their duties, and actions violated state law. The Trails Committee apparently did things that were not in keeping with the law. Although the newspaper does not specifically state what the violation was, it does mention that those on the Trails Committee noted that the episode was a "lesson learned"", and that it was a "lack of knowledge of the appropriate laws that got us into trouble".

Things like this are not done on purpose. It is usually due to enthusiasm, and lack of knowledge. A bad combination for most things, but without the proper leadership, and proper direction, committees are formed at the drop of a hat instead of assigning additional duties to boards and committees already in place. Selectman Tom Creamer stated that this may have been an error on the part of the town. Things should have been looked at more closely.

It happens.

The best part is those in positions to recognize that changes needs to occur are doing just that. Erin Jacques , conservation agent, has designed a "chain of command" in regards to open space in the form of a flow chart. Those in power also recognized the positive things various committees have brought like the successful "Trail Days" put on by the Trails Committee.

Well, the first part of correcting mistakes is recognizing them, and owning them. Looks like that has been done. Next comes developing a course of action, and that will come on May 10th when the Public Lands Advisory Committee meets with the Board of Selectmen.

This is great, but a part of me expects a new committee to be formed to look into the matter.


  1. When it comes to all these committees, it is very confusing for voters to try to understand just who is elected, who is appointed, which persons who fills out applications to be on a committee will be considered acceptable by which committee etc., and who on a certain committee gets to decide what any given applicant may be thought capable of what. It appears that there is too much control in too many places, and that some of those controls or influences come from individuals pushing quite strongly for their own agendas rather than those of the people of Sturbridge in general. Oh, yes, we get to vote at town meetings, but many people can't get there, and or sit there for the long periods of time required - senior citizens, for example, and many people feel intimidated voting in public. I wonder if more votes would be forthcoming if more issues were settled in the privacy of the voting booth?

  2. Standing up for what you believe in should never intimidate anyone in America, but it does. I will continue to stand up and be counted at town meetings, it is the one place where everyone will know excactly how I feel about somethings.


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