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

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

She Reached Out, And Spoke

On Monday evening, longtime resident Ginger Peabody took the floor at the Selectmen's meeting, and spoke.  She feels very strongly about what she said that night, and although the Board of Selectmen heard her loud and clear, we won't know until the next town "project" evolves as to whether or not they actually listened to Ginger's words as well.

"For the record, my name is Ginger Peabody, Fiskdale.  I am here to request a process be instituted but first I’d like to give some background.
Within the past week brick sidewalks have been installed in the Common area, I realize that it’s a done deal, that this Board voted on it and its over.  This Board voted on it without firm funding in place, I know that there are three possible sources, the State, Chapter 90 funds or CPC funds.  I assume that the chances of the State picking up the tab for the $189,000 brick sidewalks are just about slim to none.  This leaves the Chapter 90 or CPC funds to pay for the project.  I have no doubt that these funds legally could be used but traditionally Chapter 90 funds have been used to repair our bridges and streets, our infrasture.  Health and safety of the residents was brought up by I assume a member of this Board, and our DPW director said that this would not be an issue but as far as I know he didn’t give it a “great,  please use Chapter 90 funds to pay for the brick sidewalks, our roads and bridges are in great shape”.  I happened to go the CPC meeting where the brick sidewalk funding was discussed, some members were all for the funding others were against it, the matter was put on hold until they could seek advice from Counsel whether or not they could use money from the Historical fund, again, not quite a ringing endorsements.
There was a Special Town Meeting in August where we had to vote on transfers of money, some accounts were over the budgeted amount by as little as $200 some odd dollars but yet we had to vote on the transfer.  Here the amount over budget is $189,000 and it was voted on by the BOS without real input from the public.  I for one never thought this Board would have a final vote without major input.  If the State does not pay the $189,00 out of the 131 project monies  our input will be whether or not to use CPC monies and if that fails this Board can use Chapter 90 money without any say from the residents.
This is not the first time a project with considerably money involved has been approved without what I call “real input from the residents”.  I”m referring to the artificial turf at Tantasqua in the amount of approximately 2 million dollars that this Board approved.  Luckily the other towns  involved let the matter go before their Town Meetings and it was turned down, we were not afforded that same opportunity.
My request is ,the process that I would like to see instituted,  if in the future a project comes before this Board with real money involved, that the Board seek real input from the residents.  This could be done in several ways, if a Town Meeting is already scheduled, place the project on the agenda as a non-binding issue, if an election is scheduled, place the project on the ballot as a non-binding issue, if neither is possible place it on the Town Web site where people can vote, this has been done in the past.
I’m not here to debate but asking this Board to give  us a real chance to have input into how our tax dollars are to be spent, perhaps that way we won’t feel that something has been shoved down our throats without our say.

Thank you for listening."

Well said, and thank you, Ginger.
Spoken by Fiskdale resident Ginger Peabody to the Town of Sturbridge Selectmen at their meeting on September 20, 2010.


  1. Ginger has worked hard for this town for many years, graciously volunteering her time and the use of her excellent mind. Without even knowing it, she has been an inspiration for the idea of Cricketdom in Sturbridge. Most of us can't ever begin to do as much for this town as Ginger has, but we might at the very least, find our way to use our voices to speak up and tell it like it is, as Ginger has always done.
    She is:
    Thank you so very much, Ginger!

  2. Little Cricket, don't know what to say, except thank you.

  3. Ginger, and Wally,
    Thank you both for being here and helping folks to feel that we do have a voice in this town. I wish that Ginger's remarks had been televised, but it looks like perhaps the tape ran out before she spoke. I hope the BOS meetings will be carried live in the future, enabling people who can't get down to the town hall to call in and "ask the selectmen." Once again, thank you both for your hard work.


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