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

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Local Man Has Great Idea

I was happy to read in the Town Common  that a local man, David Barnicle, had presented an idea to the Board of Selectmen, and the BOS thought it was a good idea.

The idea is a simple one.  Main Street on Route 20 would be named Main Street West, and Main Street on Route 131 would be renamed Main Street South.  The reason for the change would to help customers find businesses, and instill civic pride.  He compared Main Street here in town to Worcester's Main Street where the road is designated with north and south.  "If anybody goes to Worcester and asks a Worcester-ite where Clark University is, they say, 'Main South'.  It's something that the people of Main South really close to them.  It's not part of Worcester, it's Main South, baby.  My feeling is let's get this kind of feeling of presence in Strubridge", Barnicle said.

I agree with him that it will ease the navigation of our long, multi-talented, Main Street.  Boutique shops to the west, and the town center, and more conventional retail to the south.  Our Main Street is not like others.  It occupies two routes US Route 20 from east to west, and MA Route 131 from north to south. It also has a "dog leg" turn in from of the Super 8 Motel where it begins its southerly journey.

The change is simple, and would be a great aid in navigation for locals, and visitors alike.  I am not too sure about the civic pride aspect of it.  I have been in a lot of places that separate themselves from the town, or city, by their geographic location, and misplaced civic pride.  From the "Projects" of Brighton, to the "Flats" of Norwood, each had what they referred to as civic pride, and maybe it was, but they also isolated themselves from the rest of the community.  They had their own place, their own rules.

We don't need anymore of that.  No.  No Main Westies, or Main Southies for me.  Leave it as a geographic designation only, and let the neighborhood designations evolve on their own.

The Board of Selectmen agreed that the idea was a good one, but had some concerns.  They are concerned about the "burden" the change would" place on residents, business owners, emergency response personnel, the post office, and the town, who would all have to adjust to the change." the newspaper reported.

Adjust? I have to be missing something.

Selectman Mary Dowling said, "I think it is a great idea, but we need to know what the residual costs to businesses or town will be".

Residual costs?  Now I know I am missing stuff.

The paper also reported that the BOS agreed to assemble a committee that  would consist of a selectman, the towns post masters, the police and fire chiefs, and the members of the Town Hall to discuss what the  implications would be if the change were made.

Implications?  This isn't the Marshall Plan.  This is adding the word "West" to one sign, and "South", to another.  The only "burden" would be changing ones address on checks, stationary, credit card statements, license, and whatever else you have your home, or business,  address attached to.  The cost?  Whatever it takes the DPW to make a few new road signs, and to pay for some of those address changes, but if one just waits until it's time to reorder stationary it won't cost anymore than it normally would.

Sometimes, no, I take that back,  a lot of the time, town government can make a lot work for a little job.  Oh, I know they are only being thorough, but for something like this, that only needs to take a day, or so. Just agree that the idea is good, and has merit, then get all those people mentioned above for a meeting on the front lawn of the Town Hall.  Once everyone is on the lawn, the Chairman of the BOS should point to the south and simply state, "That is Main Street South.  It goes from over there, to the Southbridge line.  Now, up thataway," he will say pointing to the north, "is Main Street West.  It goes from where South Main starts, to the Brimfield line.  Tell everyone to update their addresses, and we'll make the signs."  Then adjourn.  I think the police, fire, and post office will get it.

They all mean well, but I think they go a bit overboard because they feel they have to, or people will rise up.  For little things, that are good ideas, and would be best put into place sooner, rather than later, I believe the people will not take up torches and pitchforks.

Of course, this IS Sturbridge...


  1. Why not use the correct address of rte.131 or rte. 20. I have lived in Sturbridge many, many years and never call 131 or 20..Main street. We do not have a main street. I do like that someone wants to do something about the situation.

  2. Wally, as usual, you make a lot of sense and I agree with your thinking in this matter. It's so simple, or it should be. There are many more important things that need attention. If we need to vote on the West and South Main Street designations we can just do that at some point in the future, at the same time we vote on other matters. Thanks for keeping us informed.

  3. I appreciate the Selectmen's decision and agree with them 100%. If you owned a business, maybe you'd understand the situation better. Once again, they're doing it the right way, crossing the t's and dotting the i's.

    It's interesting that you would have them simplify this issue to the point of "just do it" but they were chastised repeatedly over the ADA issue at Town Hall and the intersection at Route 20 and Haynes Hill, both which they had no control over but had to pick up the pieces after other over-simplified or just overlooked important aspects of those issue.

    I mean, really, there is no pleasing some folks.

  4. For some things, it is a simple matter to put a change into effect. There would be no adverse repercussions making a decision either way on something like this. Then, there are the issues like the ADA issue when not enough input was given to something that would have repercussions if a wrong decision was made. One can't make up for past failures by going overboard on the simple things now. It is like tying ones shoes, and then gluing the laces together so they won't come unties again. It's called overkill, and in effect is a failure in itself. Save the "i" dotting, and "t" crossing for issues that need them m like the ADA, and make simple decisions quickly, confidently, and well for the benefit of all.

  5. Let's think about this rationalyTuesday, January 25, 2011

    Oh, come on, Anonymous! Has common sense flown out of those drafty single-paned windows under the slate roof, or have all the offices gotten up to 100 degrees and made it hard to think?

  6. By the way, Anonymous, where is the intersection of Route 20 and Haynes Hill? I've never heard of it.


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