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

Saturday, October 9, 2010

I Can Hear The Jeopardy Theme Playing Now

There are now ten sewer options currently before the Board of Selectmen for old Route 15.  The options were presented by Dave Prickett of Tighe & Bond last Monday night. Which one the town will pursue?  Well, which ever one they choose, it will be very telling.

From a low cost of $5 Million dollars that would include the Jellystone Park Campground, but not the retirement community, to a higher cost of $13 million for a longer sewer line to serve more residents that would also reduce the overall cost to individuals, and to an option with a much higher cost of $26 million that would include a satellite treatment facility.  This option would give the highest waste treatment to the area according to Tighe & Bond.  There are seven other sewer options in between the low end of $5 million and the high of $26 million.

The choice will be based on a lot more than just cost.  The choice will be based no only on where the current folks on the Board  see the town in 10 years, but where they want the town to be as well.  If built too restrictive, and small, the system would not be able to support enough growth to make it all worthwhile.  Build it too big, and it will accommodate a lot of growth, but do we want to grow too big?

The is a the basic "Goldilocks Conundrum".  The GC, as we like to call it here at TOLIS , since we made it up, is figuring out which option is "just right".

Hmmm.  Bring on that theme music!

Jeopardy! theme sound clip

I really like to watch these thing play out. How they are decided upon, and the debate leading up to that eventual decision are very telling. They not only tell us the direction the town would like to take, but where some folks would like to take the town.  That can be like winning an Oscar for for some people if they  happen to decide on the same direction  the majority of people in town would like to go, or it can be their political undoing.

It's like some rural reality TV show playing out on Selectmen meetings broadcast on cable TV, and in letters to the editor.

Ya gotta love it.

Something as simple as how involved the sewer system should be on old Route 15 can reveal so much about those making the decision.

Now, if the first option is decided on then the road stays essentially as it is.  A few more businesses. that's about it. A lot of money, a lot of work with very little return, but they have to throw it out there.

The,  second option, I listed above, is better,  but still restrictive as to how much growth will be allowed.

The third is very good, but do we want to open ourselves up to that much more growth.  On I-84?

Hell yes.  Maybe we don't need a mega project, but we definitely need one that will allow for future growth.

For 45 years that goldmine of a road has essentially been ignored by the town.  Any other town in the nation would have capitalized on a major highway interstate rolling though it decades ago.  To think we have TWO of them intersecting right in the middle of town, and with the exception of a few roadsigns long covered by tree growth, we have done little to snatch that traffic off the highway, and lead them into our  businesses.  More businesses on Route 15, off I-84, would not only be a convenient location for people with a destination in mind, such as a sports complex, but would be a great place for businesses that would serve travelers as well.

The area is out of the center of town, and, essentially, in the boonies, so the traffic impact would not be felt up near the common, but what an impact the numbers would have on those businesses built along Route 15.

Cha-ching!  Can you say, "Revenue stream"?  Actually, more like a river if done right.

I will be watching this reality show closely as most of you will, too.  Let us hope that our elected representatives will listen to us, weigh our concerns, get back to us with answers if they don't have any, and put our opinions on the front burner.  If we need more information to make a good decision, then it is their job to teach us.  Just don't go it alone.  Representatives do just that, represent, they don't fly solo.

Soloist still need help from the ground.

To read the article on the subject in the  Tantasqua Town Common click here.


  1. Excellent article, Wally. That land is right there for the using and it's about time that the town be brought a little closer together. The senior mobile home community seems so far from any services, as does Breakneck Rd. and other spots of civilization off of Rte. 15.

    This looks like a good place to bring up something I've thought about for awhile now. That's the possibility of cities and towns somehow coming up with a new requirement for senior communities far removed from necessary services. My thought is that they should be required to have some sort of a reasonably priced convenience store for necessities, basic staples to get through difficult times when travel is not possible because of infirmities or weather related causes.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and letting us do the same.

  2. Maple Leaf, Thank you for your concern. I'm not sure if a requirement would work. "Far removed" is kind of subjective. We are right off Mass pike, Rte 20 and 84 as well as 131. Doing it voluntarily, though, is sosmething we might be able to look at. To help ease some of your concerns, you should know that there is a requirement to have a rec hall complete with kitchen facilities. In inclement weather we have the abilty to feed those that might need help and we have back up generator power. We are currently looking into getting some of the more mobile people CERT certified to help keep track of some that might require monitoring in certain circumstances.Right now my energy,time and effort is focused on getting these seniors out of their sewer situation. Not to make light of things but what goes in, must come out. Again, thank you for your concern, it is greatly appreciated.

  3. M,
    Thanks for your response. I've always thought that the park was very nice, but far from town. Having had family in other places similar to yours, we thought the same. What a great place...if only. The fact that you have folks who check up on others is wonderful. If there is a known need your people can take care of it or contact someone who will. That does ease my mind. Thank you.
    As far as the lesser amount of sewer usage per unit up there compared to a house, you are correct. Your homes surely would use much less. Anyone who helps and elderly single, or couple knows that the amount of rubbish generated is much less also. We need folks to use their eyes a little more around here.
    Sometimes all it takes is seeing what is right in front of you and finding a way to deal with that. I hope that the townsfolk can come together and do what needs to be done. Eventually it could directly benefit any one of us.

  4. Ahhhh! But if only it where that simple. This would have been taken care a long time ago and I wouldn't have so much grey hair! Unfortunately, politics sometimes trumps common sense and greed can overshadow compassion. This just seems like such a no brainer. Town would benefit from a broader tax base. Three hundred seniors would be able to go on with their lives and we would help a tourist attraction that may not survive if a solution is not found. Sorry, I have already been accused of getting on my soap box on other blogs so I guess I'll stop here and listen to the jeopardy theme song again.

  5. It's good to hear from you on this blog, Mary!

  6. How's the town benefit from a broader tax base if the retirement park's already here? If you mean betterment fees those just help lessen the cost of the construction. Not like it's money in our pockets. If mobile homes are going to get a reduced user fee, then so should seniors living in regular homes. We use just as little water as someone in a 3 bedroom trailer.

  7. So much misinformation! First, these are mobile homes , not trailers. Second, we are limited to 2 bedroom units. Third, we are not asking for a reduced user fee. We will pay the same user fee as anyone else. It is just as it says, a fee for what you use. We are asking the town to look at the sewer allotment or ERU. If you live in a 3 bedroom home, then your design flow is set by the D.E.P. at 330 gpd. A regular mobile home would be 300 gpd, but a retirement mobile home is only 150 gpd or half that of a regular single family dwelling. This is important for the determination of the privilege fee. You are correct,a betterment pays for the construction of the pipeline and is paid by the abutters. We do not abut rte 15. We would ask for a sewer extension permit and pay to have the pipe run from the park to rte 15. That would then make us liable for a privilege fee. This would be money above and beyond the betterment and would go into the sewer enterprise fund. At the half unit we are seeking, we would pay into Sturbridge's sewer fund $800,000 to allow us to connect. I am not trying to make this a complicated issue, but it is quite involved. I don't know if you have looked at the study results but they have put a price tag of $5M to sewer rte 15. This option does not include the park. To bring the system to the park would be $8M. We are saying, option A would work and save the town $3M. We would take care of running the pipe to connect and pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to the town. We would then pay the same users fee as you. I fail to see how this is not a win - win situation. To the tax base has nothing to do with the mobile home park already being here. You would have to read Wally's post and understand what the impact of finally getting some good, controlled growth in an area that is crying out for it. This growth will broaden the tax base and seriously help businesses that are already in the area. Just think Old Sturbridge Village is just down the road and I would bet their receipts would benefit grately if we could draw more people to the area etc. etc. I hope I have answered some of your questions and will keep doing so until everyone has ALL the information. Thank you for your time and I hope I have helped.

  8. Great explanation, Mary! It often looks to me like this has become in the eyes of some (dare I say it) a who is "better" than whom issue. In this day and age, why would, on more than one occasion, someone purposely call the homes in the retirement park 3 bedroom trailers? The usage of that word is no longer looked at as just a common mistake or usage, but a purposeful put down when written in a carefully thought out statement to a senior living in a mobile home park. One's home is a home be it a tent or a castle. I'm afraid that the "caste" system is still one of the problems here in Sturbridge. I'll never forget the day a newly "educated" youngish Sturbridge resident said, many years ago, "I made it out of Fiskdale, and I'll never have to live there again." Are he and his friends still thinking that they are better than the rest of us. Ignorance is bliss for some, but their purposeful ignorance can make life hell for others hell for others, can't it.
    Wally's blog is a good place to share your information. Best of luck, Mary.


Anonymous comments not accepted, and will be rejected. Please use your full name. Choose "Name / URL" and enter your name, and your name ONLY. Leave "URL" blank.