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, August 19, 2010

It Ain't That Hard

With all the discussion about sidewalks, intersections, and all the properly designed infrastructure  are we forgetting about the sidewalks on Main Street in Fiskdale?  You know the sidewalks, the ones with the utility poles in the middle of them.  The sidewalks that at some places do not allow a wheelchair to pass unless it goes around the pole, and onto the street.
Yeah.  Those sidewalks.  Well, I've been hearing for 10 years that the poles were going to be removed from the sidewalk to make the sidewalks ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant. 

Hasn't happened.  

I have witnessed wheelchairs, strollers, and those electric scooters like Larks, and Rascals struggling to get around the poles.  Sometimes they can, but more than once I have seen them going from the sidewalk and onto the street to circumvent the some poles.

This has been an infrastructure failure since those sidewalks went in, and yet, nothing has happened to correct it.  Yes, every few years it is mentioned, and we get some lip service about it, but nothing concrete, and never a follow up.

Somehow the culture with the Town has made those involved in town government feel invulnerable to the lawsuits, and penalties associated with non-compliance of the law.

We can fix that.

The link below is the Federal Governments web site for the Americans with Disability Act of 1973.  I suggest you take a few minutes to read up on the law.  The Feds are very serious about enforcement.  The problem is they have to know about the violations, and that is where the second link comes in.  That link will take you to the official Department of Justice ADA Title II Complaint form.

It's time.  I am tired of being ignored when I bring up safety issues, getting lip service as if I have the IQ of bed bug, and being given a song and dance by folks that don't have the rhythm to do it right.

I've said it recently, I bring things to the attention of those that can affect change.  If after a time the changes are not addressed, and the safety of residents, and visitors is still at risk, then it is time to go a step higher, and that's where the Fed's come in.

So, today you have a choice.  You can either continue to wait for a response from the town about the issues that confront us, or take a step in correcting at least one issue by completing the ADA complaint form.

We need to keep in mind that the government is of the people, by the people, and for the people.  We are the people.  Our representatives answer to us, and if we want something as small as answers, we should get them ASAP.  

As with anything, our actions may not evoke an immediate change, but what this posting, and your actions it does is make the issue a matter of public record so when the issue does come up in the future as a result of a lawsuit, or penalty there is no denying it.

As residents, and citizens, we deserve to be treated with respect, not as annoyances.

Don't ignore us.  It's really simple, when a question is asked, or a concern voiced, or a plan is asked to be discussed then answer it, acknowledge it, and discuss it.

It ain't that hard.

"ADA Enforcement

Through lawsuits and settlement agreements, the Department of Justice has achieved greater access for individuals with disabilities in hundreds of cases. Under general rules governing lawsuits brought by the Federal government, the Department of Justice may not sue a party unless negotiations to settle the dispute have failed.

The Department of Justice may file lawsuits in federal court to enforce the ADA, and courts may order compensatory damages and back pay to remedy discrimination if the Department prevails. Under title III, the Department of Justice may also obtain civil penalties of up to $55,000 for the first violation and $110,000 for any subsequent violation."  -- Source Department of Justice ADA Homepage


  1. I believe that the sidewalks on 20 are under the powers of the State not the Town. Just look how long 131 took to get worked on again under the power of the State not the Town.

  2. The sidewalks are the towns. They maintain them, and clear them of snow. The sate may have been the ones that rebuilt the roadway, but the sidewalks became Sturbridge's. The cost to bury the utility lines was $1 Million dollars a couple of years ago. The town did not address it then because it did not have the money. Some folks are thinking of spending that close to that amount on fancy sidewalks down around the common. First things first. Take care of what we have first, then get fancy with what you want.

  3. It has been suggested, even by a poster on this site, that "parts of Fiskdale" also get brick sidewalks, but the same poster never mentioned the safety problems for disabled folks, carriages, strollers, and, actually, everyone else. ('Ever step into a deep hole in the snow when trying to climb over a snow bank by a telephone pole on a Fiskdale sidewalk too narrow to clean?) I don't get all the emphasis on supposedly beautifying everything for the tourists and giving the tax paying townsfolk the scraps. If we don't have money for our needs, why are we spending on the frills? Lipstick only does so much for bad teeth.

  4. What is important to know is there is no money, for bricks on the common, or in Fiskdale, and there are far more important things to take care of. And in Fiskdale, we need completely new sidewalks without poles sticking out of the middle of them.

  5. Please note that a few years ago Sturbridge citizens were given the option of burying the power lines and eliminating the poles. This action/expenditure was voted down by the voters (not by the BOS, or by other officials). This issue comes up regularly, and while it seems that public opinion supports putting wires underground, we are not willing to put up the money needed.

  6. The problem is that the Town of Sturbridge cannot to choose to abide by the law, or not to by putting it to a vote in front of the town. The ADA is specific, and whether a business, or community has the money they must find a way, and abide Why this was brought before the town as a "yes" or "no" choice is beyond most people, but it was. Now, we have to face the music, and start dancing.

  7. That'd be pricelessTuesday, August 24, 2010

    Yes, you're right. Those poles in the middle of the sidewalks are in the way... Did you say it's time to dance? Pole dancing in Sturbridge? Hey! I bet that would finally get their attention!!


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