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

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Know Your Audience

When a plan is to be presented for an event, or a project, it must be tailored for the audience it will be shared with.

Well, that certainly makes sense.  Tell a fairy tale to a toddler, and one presents it a bit differently than if a similar story is told to a seven year old.  Different understandings.  Different expectations, and different responses.

Same is true when explaining about a municipal project.  A presentation to a bunch of engineers would go one way, a presentation to local residents would be presented another.

Know your audience.  This is a basic.  Adapt your information for your particular audience.  Engineers won't have the same questions, as residents would.

Something else to keep in mind about large public projects is what are the  cost/benefits.  Will the benefits from the completion of the project justify the cost, and just what are those benefits?  Will the project correct a poor situation, a problem, a bad design, poor construction, or just be an overall good improvement?  Each part of the project must be addressed.  The project, as a whole, can be summarized, but specifics are then needed, otherwise it will come back to bite you on the arse.  Those specifics must be tailored to the audience.

A historically bad intersection will be rebuilt along with several other during a large road rebuilding project, and we assume that it will be rebuilt better, and will have a better design, and function just as all the other intersections are being built.

We all know about assumptions, and we all know what assuming anything without asking questions will get us.

It will get us into a jam similar to the one we are in now.

We need to keep in mind a couple of things.  One is to ask for information in order to fully understand something.  We don't do that, though.  Goes back to grammar school, and many of us didn't ask questions then either.  The other thing we need to be aware of is that besides asking questions is that those folks in the know need to be fully aware of every aspect of the project in order to accept it, and  explain it thoroughly.

It is obvious that a few years ago, when the Route 131 plan was presented to the Town, that those in the know failed to ask certain questions, and assumed that the engineers had addressed issues, and problems.  After all, they were engineers.  We now know what happened.

That all being said, and being unable to change it, what do we do know?

We wait.

I know, it is hard, but we need to give the TA time to follow through with our concerns, and demands for a fix.  It took years to assume things would be right, it will take a little bit of time to plan a fix.

What should we expect?  We should expect that the issue will be addressed by the town in short order, and that they will keep the residents of the town in the loop as to what will be done, and when.  We should also expect that the permanent fix will be more than stop lines pushed twenty feet back, warning signs, or blinking lights.  The fix will involve cutting into the embankment in front of the Center School, possibly having to move the Veterans Memorial a bit, installing a retaining wall, and redesigning the intersection to allow for access onto, and egress from Haynes Street for all size of vehicles, and it will all be done in conjunction with the current road construction.

These are expectations, they are different from assumptions.

In 2010, as in 1758, and our roads need to reflect our usage, and commerce,  but reflective of modern times.

Now, in the meantime, the town needs to look across the street to Maple Street.  Maple Street is an actual street, not a driveway to back of the Town Hall, and the Church as many using it would have you believe.  It has always been narrow, and drivers have not treated it as an actual road.  The diagonal parking alongside the church makes the road that much narrower.

Oh, crap.  Scratch all that.  One SNAFU at a time.  We are still bantering about bricks around the Common.  If we are fed anything else our little heads will explode.

I don't want to be responsible for that.  Unless, of course, we have the right audience.


  1. Agreed! (In the mean time, I wish they would use a caution sign of some sort and remove those straight up curb stones that are blocking the turn radius at Haynes Street.)

  2. Has anyone heard anything more from Town Hall?

  3. What a Cunundrum!Thursday, August 26, 2010

    There's a big bridge (capable of handling big vehicles, like trailer trucks and buses)reconstruction project on Old Route 15. The only exit and entrance for that bridge is the Old Route 15/Haynes St. and 131 intersection, but that's been narrowed down. What gives here?

  4. If you are traveling on narrowed street, hemmed in by sidewalks on both sides (at the common, as well as on Haynes Street) and you need to get out of the way quickly, or pull over for an emergency vehicle, or pull over because your car is pooping out, where do you pull over to?


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