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, January 28, 2011
Maybe It's Just Me
The new enforceable bylaw in town is for property owners to clear the sidewalks in front of their business, or residence, after each snow fall. If this was Boston, and the doors or shops and homes opened onto the sidewalk, then I would be all for the clearing of the snow, and de-icing of the walkways in front of those buildings, but this is cow country. For the most part there is fifty to a hundred feet from the door to the sidewalk, and most properties have way over a hundred feet of frontage. No small feat to clear.
Why do property owners have to do this? Well, it is basically because we can spend a lot of money of silly things, but will no longer step up and spend the money on man power and the right equipment to clear the sidewalks in town.
It could also have something to do with the fact that no sidewalk plow can navigate the utility pole strewn sidewalks of Fiskdale, and is just too labor intensive to clear.
But, that is old news. Something the BOS wanted, and the towns residents let go ahead, and the bylaw is now in effect. I think that after this winter it will change.
Yesterday, the sidewalks in town were a mess at 5:00 PM. Some cleared right to the property line and then the path stopped. Some paths were wide enough for a stroller to pass through, others were just wide enough for a thin person to walk sideways. There were long stretches of uncleared sidewalks all over town.
Clear, not cleared, clear, not cleared. People were walking in the street, and that is a safety issue the town will have to answer for with the pedestrian accident, or vehicular accident as a result of street foot traffic regardless of the snow removal bylaw. They need a backup plan to insure the safety of pedestrians. As of 5PM last night, there was no back up plan in effect, those sidewalks were still blocked.
My neighbor is not responsible for clearing my front walk even though his property abuts mine. Same should be true for those folks that abut Mass Highway, and town property.
The snow removal from the sidewalks in front of businesses, and homes in Sturbridge constitutes a man made hardship being placed on many. There are those with no one to clear the snow, or the equipment, or the strong back, or the wallet to hire someone. If money is a concern for the town, then offer a subscription program, much like the school bus program. If you want to have your sidewalk cleared by the town this coming snow season it will cost you this much, otherwise it is up to you.
Not the best solution, but certainly fair, and much better that what is happening now, and what is going to happen. Believe me, this is not going to go as written.
So, as you drive through our village today check out the sidewalks, and the folks walking in the street. Keep it in mind, and maybe someone will introduce an article for the next town meeting insuring that the town be responsible for clearing all the sidewalks in town uniformly, consistently, and immediately after a storm for the safety and well being of the you, a resident of Sturbridge, and for our visitors.
Yes, visitors. We are a tourist town, like Gloucester, Rockport, Plymouth, and Lenox. We enjoy the benefits that tourists bring to our town. We will accommodate visitors with costumed greeters at the Host Hotel, but won't clear the way for them to walk to a restaurant.
Time to get on the same page. Do you want to continue to be a tourist friendly town? Then suck it up, spend a little more money, hire some extra seasonal workers, buy another sidewalk plow, and just do it.
We are making so much more work for ourselves.
Those at the Town Hall need to think things through, all the way through, unless they enjoy the feeling of something biting them on the butt after each poorly thought out plan goes awry. Judging from the torn back pockets at the Town Hall, some folks don't seem to mind that at all.