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, November 6, 2010


On July 26, 1990 the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law.  Every project manager, designer, builder,  and architect knows the law very well, otherwise they would not be in business.


Now, when an architect is designing a new building, or drawing up a new design for an old building they are doing it with the input of the client, and there is a back and forth between the two.  This is how a good end result is achieved.  There may be issues along the way, such as a foundation too old, and weak to support a wall, and that information is acted on, and plans are changed accordingly.  More cost, more work, but the challenge is taken, and overcome.  The end result will show the attention to the detail.

Or not.

Then there are times when the best made plans are shared, used, and completed, but it is not until the end user finds that there is a problem.

Now what?  Well, a fix is needed, obviously, but why did the problem occur in the first place?

Some problems aren't noticed for a very long time, others are more obvious.  Not being able to use the front door of a newly rehabed town building would fall into the latter category.

So, as I initially said, project managers, designers, builders, and architects know the ADA law, and part of their job is to advise the client, along the way, in order make sure that the law is followed, and the client is happy with the plans in order to comply with the law.

Communication.  Oversight.  Two essential ingredients in any undertaking, but for the second time in recent months we are discovering that there was not adequate communication, and most obviously, very little oversight on the town hall rehab project, and the Haynes and Main Street intersection construction.

There is a common theme here.

This is not a silly mistake.  This is the front door to a $4.2 million restoration of a public building that cannot be used.  The architects know the ADA law, and the architects knew which door was the front door, as did the project manager.  Did they screw up, or did the town not respond appropriately?

We can only guess as to what happened next.  Did the architect inform the town that using the front door would be an issue without redesign?  Was the town told, but blew it off?  Soon we will know what exactly transpired, and who was told what, and when.  Even the current Chairman of the BOS is a bit taken back by this SNAFU.

In the end it will come down to oversight.  Who has it? Was it done well enough?  If not, then why not?  One thing is very clear, we need more intense oversight here in town.  We have a waste water treatment plant to be built, an elementary currently being built, and other projects that will follow in the coming years.  Do we have individuals knowledgeable enough to catch the issues before we sign off on a project?

One more thing, $50,000 to $100,000 for a ramp at the front door?  Really?

Click here for the web site for the project manager of the Town Hall and Center School Project.


  1. Does anyone know who knew what and when? On what date did anyone in town government find out that the front door was not A.D.A. compatible? Why did it take so long for us to find out about it? Were funding decisions being made on any projects after the Town knew that the entrance (or entrances, if this includes the center office building) was not in compliance?

  2. Ask Scott G. he was the selectman on the building committee. He should have all the answers.

  3. project managers come and go as do town administrators, but whose the constant in all these projects that are causing so much concern?
    Who as a town employee, is being paid to check out all plans on all projects? maybe D.P.W? Not to add more fuel to the fire, but try leaving a B.O.S. meeting after your business is complete. You have two choices. You can walk in front of the camera to get the elevator or you can stand on top of those horrible stairs, say a prayer and hope you can make it down without falling. They are not "code" and not addressed in the renovation either.

  4. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think that DPW would have anything to do with ADA compliance for the town hall entrance. Was there a "the clerk of the works" or an overseer of the renovations?

  5. Welcome to Sturbridge?Sunday, November 07, 2010

    Shouldn't the BOS and others have asked more than once, "Are you sure we're doing everything to code? Are we compliant?" There was plenty of concern about the "look" of a slate roof, the look of the bricks, etc..
    As in other matters, what seems important around here is cosmetic warmth - "ambiance." What should be the most important thing around here is giving a damn about each others' safety, needs, and inclusion. That is what would present a true feeling of warmth. A handicap ramp, or other means of handicap accessibility at a front entrance of a public building in the year 2010, says, "Come on in. Everybody is welcome here."

  6. The DPW had nothing to do with the ADA compliance of the restoration. I don't know who was the towns liason. One would think the project manager would be involved to a great degree, but who in town did they report to?

  7. Think, thank, thunk?Sunday, November 07, 2010

    Yes, there has to someone (an Overseer and Planning Board? Someone?)who checks all info, codes, etc. on a project, and someone (BOS?) that has the ultimate "say so." Hopefully those who are in charge here can get this fixed without looking for even more money. I just have a feeling though, that, as in other instances, what "looks good" will be called beautiful, and we will be called whiners and told to go to the back of the "hall." Hopefully more folks will blog, call the Town, write letters to the editors, watch the meetings (when they can find them), maybe attend a meeting, etc., so we have to won't hear, once again, that "only a couple people are concerned about this." I would like to say to those who are all for marketing this town center to the tourists who patronize two businesses, that the citizens of this town should not come in as a distant second thought.


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.