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, September 23, 2010
It's Time To Get Back To Basics
I am all for alternative forms of obtaining energy. Wind, solar, tidal, geothermal should all be utilized, but with a couple of provisos, one would be that the method selected to obtain the energy in a locality should be primarily used in that locality at a discount, and what energy is left over can then be sold onto the grid. Just seems logical that if local residents change their zoning that they should receive something in return. Some companies agree to pay the local government an annual stipend. This is what the company would like to do in Brimfield, too. $140,000 to $170,000 would be paid to the town each year. Well, if you figure on $150,000 for the 3028 folks in Brimfield that comes out to about $50.00 per resident each year.
What would be better would be a significantly reduced rate per Kilowatt hour of electricity for local residents of Brimfield. Significantly reduced. Now, that may be easier to swallow.
Another proviso would be that any structure that would be needed to obtain the energy must blend in with the rest of the topography, and not take away from the scenery an area may be known for. This is solely for the benefit of those living in the town, and live there because of the beauty of the area, however it is probably the most difficult to do.
As I mentioned, I am all for alternative energy, but just because something is "alternative" doesn't always make it right, or a good match for an area. Lots of thought, and planning, must be done in order to make the structures blend in with minimal disruption to the eye. It can be done.
When we get our underwear all balled up in a knot here in town about sidewalks, intersections, extending sewer service, and Astro Turf on the ball fields we need to just take a moment and think of the issues other towns are facing, and how they deal with the issues. Watch them, and see how they handle disagreements. Do they put issues to a vote? Do they negotiate well with vendors, and agencies? Is a compromise part of their plan?
This past Monday evening both sides of the issue met at the Hitchcock Academy in Brimfield where questions were answered by First Wind, the company looking to build the wind turbines. This coming spring of 2011 there will be a Town meeting in Brimfield, and one of the items up for vote will be whether or not to change the zoning to allow First Wind to build the towers.
Ahhh. Town meetings. Remember those. We just had one here in town. A special one. Lasted about 30 minutes. Annual town meetings are great ways to get things done in a town, or to pass on some things, too. Expensive things like bricks, silly things like Astro Turf on high school ball fields, and important things like new police cruisers, or fire trucks should be voted on at town meetings, and for the most part, they are.
Then again, there are some things that local leaders take upon for themselves, and decide for us.
Can't do that, though. Nope. We're still in charge, and whether they are selectmen, state representatives, or congressmen, they represent us. They don't act on their own without our input.
But, it seems that they are, and may even continue to do so.
We deserve better than that.
Speak loudly, speak frequently, ask questions, and expect answers that do not insult your intelligence, play word games, or sound as if Professor Irwin Corey is the one responding. Expect straight, civil, accurate answers, and if they cannot give one, then expect them to find the answer, and give you a time when they will get back to you.
This is so basic.
It"s time to get back to basics.