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

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Bit More Than Just Lipstick

You know, all in all, and despite the fact that some places that could have done with a bit more thought, the Route 131 rebuild is looking quite nice.

Since before automobiles had taken to the road between Southbridge, and Sturbridge, the highway has had its share of  issues.  Originally a path, and then a roadway for horse drawn vehicles, it narrowed between rocks at some places, went through wetlands at others, as it curved about the landscape looking for the best route.

Today, houses and businesses hug the roadway in places, and in others there is little to restrict the roadway.

The improvements made this year during this current rebuilding of the roadway were long overdue.  The road surface was pock marked with years worth of repairs, potholes, frost heaves, cracks, and overall road surface failure.  

The width was tight in areas, especially in places where the road narrowed due to of large amounts of rock ledge impinging on the roadway, or where a hill came right down to the very side of the road.  The road has been widened greatly, and those hills, and rocks cut out, and walls built where needed, and guardrails placed against the rock walls.  Eventually, Route 131 will be widened right to the the town line with Southbridge, and that should happen sometime in the coming year.  Construction will slow, and come to a stop,  over the winter.

My favorite part of this roadway rejuvenation?  The sidewalk.  It is awesome.  Something so simple has freed, and will continue to free, those that have yearned to walk, and stroll safely along our Main Street.  This concrete structure will last beyond our lifetimes.

Now, there have been issues.  Designing and building against an ancient, and unyielding historic backdrop has complicated some places with poor design, and questionable techniques.  Intersections, and bricks come immediately to mind.  Despite the facts that bricks are not exactly historic for our area, they did have a place historically in Boston around Beacon Hill, as did cobble stones in the street.  The bricks do add a measure of warmth to the area, and will last a very, very long time with the concrete base, and mortar they were set into, and held in place with.

The only fault I can find with the bricks is that they were not free, and the intersection will stay with us, despite it's flaws because we are not strong enough, or wise enough to pursue a correction.  It's all spilt milk.

Yes, all in all, this time next year will reveal a much improved and completed roadway, and despite the issues, it is something we can all be proud of.  It will bring the town into the modern era, and show visitors that we do care about how we look.

It is way more than putting lipstick on a pig.  This time we actually did the whole nip, tuck, and it looks great.


  1. Fact is, the 131 project isn't free. Nothin's free. It all comes from taxes or fees. Brick sidewalks are from state money, just a different pool. But....every dime used by the state comes from us one way or the other. Nope, nothin's free, not brick, not cement, not new stone walls, not new roads, not nothin.

  2. I think he is being sarcastic about wanting the bricks to be free. Yes, we all pay for what we have.

  3. Nobody said they wanted the bricks to be free. The statement was that the bricks were not free. People who wanted the bricks were willing to pay for them. People who didn't want to pay for the bricks were not expecting free bricks, and they were fine with either no sidewalks or concrete sidewalks. Did you read an argument in which anybody asked for free bricks? 1 - Read once, think, 2 - read again think, again, 3 - think about what you are about to write, 4 - write, 5 - look at what you've written, and repeat steps one and two.

  4. Thanks for a truly fair and balanced common sense article, as usual, Wally.

  5. Yes the bricks look wonderful but what is up with patches of cement and then patches of black top in the middle of the beautiful bricks? I hope those ugly patches will be bricked over. They stand out like a sore thumb!

  6. The cement at the corners are there to facilitate the ADA ramps. The black top is temporary. The black top covers areas that will be concreted in the spring, when the weather is warmer and the concrete can set up well. Those areas are where utility poles wee moved from, or something else had to be done in the area. Hope this helps.

  7. I have been places where the ramps are brick to match the rest of the sidewalk. Also there is cement in places other than the "ramps". What gives there?

  8. Maybe the ramps and other places are concrete because it was cheaper than doing them in brick?

  9. It's very late nowMonday, November 01, 2010

    They could have colored the concrete ramps to match the bricks, but that would have cost even more money, and, if you remember, they didn't even have the money for the bricks without taking it from our Chapter 90 funds. The sections where telephone poles need to be moved will eventually be taken care of, so you shouldn't need to worry about that.
    My main concern remains the intersection where trucks are climbing the sidewalk and driving down over a portion of the bricks.
    In time we will learn what not doing more to prevent that from happening will cost. It's done. We're stuck with it - unless there's a way to convince the powers that be that the problems at the intersection still need to be corrected.

  10. Ugh, so much doom and gloom; even the name "it's too late now" is way over the top. Can you find anything positive to say about anything, ever?

    Get over the intersection already. It will be this way going forward and it's just not as bad as you make it out to be.

  11. There are still trucks running over the sidewalk, even onto some of the bricks. That's a fact. Go down and stand there for weekday/business day day, on the curve, next to the center office building, at Main and Haynes. Don't move out of the way when a large vehicle/truck comes. Come back and report the next day, if you can, and give us the FACTS.

  12. Would you let your children stand and chat with their friends for awhile on the sidewalk at the area in question? How about just placing a dozen eggs there for a day or so?

  13. There is a Selectmen's meeting playing now on channel 12. Look quick, just in case it goes off quickly! You never know.

  14. "Let me in." "Not by the hair on my chinny-chin chin!"Tuesday, November 02, 2010

    How much time at BOS meetings is used regarding signage in this town? (Much) I’m watching the meeting and listening to a long drawn out signage debate at the moment. How much time has been used at BOS meetings, regarding an important intersection, and/or discussing the idea of having the shared sidewalk across the street from the town hall and on 131 in front of the town hall brought down to street level to avoid trucks from climbing the sidewalks?( Little to none?) How much time was taken up concerning the slate roof, the bricks, and other “beautification” issues? (Much) How much time was taken up regarding handicap accessibility at the front door of the town hall while discussing the plans for the $4.8 million dollar project? (Any? None?)

    We may enjoy looking at what we wrongly imagine to be an image based on the idea of the pretty warmth of a New England village long ago. But, where is the thought that we should be proud of the improvements we’ve made in construction methods, and in inclusive thinking about our neighbors through all these years? In 2010 isn’t it just wrong to spend all that tax payer money for such huge projects and still expect someone to go to the back door?

    I don’t care what excuse is made about the new main entrance being in the back. The “historic” entrance area has been graced with a pretty brick sidewalk. Space and money have been spent for an alcove inside the front door. But when someone makes their way to that entrance they are greeted by a tiny note that tells them to go to the rear of the building.

    How much time was spent discussing the fact that if the town hall’s back door was to be the main entrance, there would be no safe walkway to the back door, even for town employees who would first have to walk across the street from the other town office building? (Any?) How much time was taken to discuss that if you did install a walkway along Maple Street from the front to the back of the town hall, that would make the road too narrow to keep the only semi-convenient parking for the library, and much of the nearby parking for the church? (Little? None?)

    Our town center as a package may be pretty at first glance, but upon a good look, we find that some of what’s inside the box is as important as bonbons for a dieter, given in a holiday gift exchange. Bonbons make one feel good for 5 minutes or so, before he or she realizes that it wasn’t such a good trade after all. We spent our money for these projects and expected those who say that Sturbridge should have only “the best” were talking about substance over frills. A pretty little pink “tutu” won’t get you very far if you can’t find the suspenders to you need to hold it up.

  15. @ Let Me In: You said it all. Thank you.

  16. Whose bull who?Wednesday, November 03, 2010

    Hmmm, multiple postings by 1 maybe 2 people talking nonsense. I watch most of the meetings, never hear any of you there complaining. Just a couple of people here whining with no answers and too many aliases. What a waste of time.

  17. Whose....,
    If you think it's a waste of time "speaking" to each other.........what country do you think we live in? You don't need to waste your time by bothering to answer.


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