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, April 24, 2011

Historic Energy Fail

I really enjoy history.  Ever since I was old enough to understand the difference between present and past, and how the past led to the present, I have been fascinated by history.

When I arrived here in Sturbridge I naturally wanted to learn the  towns history.  Knowing what happened here  before I arrived gave me a deeper sense of place.  It is also important for anyone to know a places past in order to understand where the place is today, and to have a respect for the place as well.  I know it is cliche, but I will say it anyway, one cannot map out where they are going, unless they know where they have been.

More common sense than cliche, really.

So, here I am, a guy that lives in a town surrounded by history, and by others that have the same, and even a deeper passion than myself. I am a very lucky man.  Of course, there is a difference between being a person that enjoys, appreciates, respects, and maintains our history, and our historic places, and, those that are fanatical.

Fanatical history lovers?  Well, yes.  Not much of an issue, but when they rise to a position and are called upon for advise when important historical advise is needed it can become an issue.  If there is no one in the crowd with a lick of sense to temper some of that hardcore advise into something usable, then we may live to regret it.  

I think we can all start regretting it now.

The new windows that recently replaced the windows in
the old photo of the town hall above are essentially
the same:  single pane. 

I was told last weekend that during the renovation of the Center School, and the Town Hall, that single pane windows were installed in both buildings because they are more  historically accurate than energy efficient, multi-pane windows.  This piece of advice was given by our local experts in history.  I was also told that one can actually see the curtains move as the air circulates around the windows, and that the heating system is far from working effectively. It is either around 80℉,  or much, much  lower. Seldom a happy medium.

Single pane windows?  In 2011?  Really?  I really do trust, and respect my source of this information, but could they really be right?  Could our experts in history have actually insisted on single pane glass windows for their historical accuracy  resulting in wasting huge amounts of energy?  Not to mention adding to the uncomfortable working conditions in the building.  If these experts wanted true accuracy then why did they stop at the windows, and not advise that the bathrooms be located outside in the parking lot along side the pump for the running water.

Because it doesn't make any sense, that's why.
The Master Plan for the Town of Sturbridge has an entire section on Energy and Sustainability, and these single pane windows run counter to not only the plan, but to common sense.

The Planning Board has listed "Current Events" on their page on the Town website, and one of the items listed is applying for designation as a Green Community.

"3.  Establish an energy use baseline inventory that includes municipal buildings, vehicles, street and traffic lighting, and put in place a comprehensive program designed to reduce this baseline by 20 percent within 5 years of the baseline year."

Well, it doesn't take a genius to know that we've screwed up royally.  Yes, I said "we".  No matter if a committee, or commission made the decision, and others did not question it, it eventually falls on us, the residents.  It is our responsibility.

Getting advice of experts is always a great idea, but so is having others review the advice, and think how it will actually affect the task at hand, and everything else it touches.  Again, nothing hi-tech here, just common sense.

If those windows can be replaced with energy efficient windows, we may be back on track, but for now, I don't see that happening.  Replacing newly purchased and installed windows requires a reason to do so, and that reason has to be owned by somebody or somebodies.

I don't see that happening any time soon.


  1. Great article Wally. I had discussed the single pane windows and the slate roof during the planning stages with the Chair of the Finance Committee, as I recall the FC was fine with both. Shame on me for not bringing it up before Town Meeting but that particular Town Meeting was held at Burgess and by the time I had signed in and got to my seat the Article had already been presented and passed, I might add without discussion. There was such a crowd, because that was the same night the Burgess School vote was up, again shame on me for being late.

  2. Long time residentMonday, April 25, 2011

    I am almost without words. The restoration of the school and the town hall included replacing the 100 plus year old non energy efficient single pane windows with new non energy efficient single pane windows? And we allowed it? Shame on us. We deserve the heating bill for our stupidity being so blatant. I would like to know whose idea the single pane windows were to begin with.

  3. Did "we" know every single detail about these plans? Are "we" expected to know every last detail about everything we rely on our town government to do? No, I don't think so.
    When "we" did realize what was going on regarding funding for the bricks, and some of us wrote about it and some of us went down to the town hall to ask them not to go ahead, did "they" listen? No. Did "we" understand that the doors would be non compliant? Why should we have expected that our own people at the town hall would care more about superficial pseudo glimpses of a past this town never had, than good looking, practical health and safety related inventions of the modern world?

    What's the sense in having the so called proper "look" when the door can't be used, the rooms are either very cold, or hot enough to make you dizzy, etc., etc. in a several million dollar "mansion," and the smaller place across the street? Who will be the person to officially announce that with 5 million already spent we need to spend more? Who will agree to pay more???

    Did we get accused of being wrong, lazy, and uncaring, and unable to understand the complexities of the projects when we voiced our opinions? Yes. Were we told that things had to be done in certain ways to attract tourists to "the merchants" in the area of the town common? Yes. When some of us mentioned that there were only two tourist attractions there (The Publick House, and Sadie Green's), were we ever given a reply? No.

    I keep up with the news the best I can, and I show up at the polls, and I, for one do not feel responsible for those folks who were willing to give up what was in our best interests for what for what they wanted. They still smile and say they think it's all very lovely. I don't.

  4. What makes this more aggravating is that no one in town government, including the the town administrator has offered an explanation. They feel it went for a vote, so there, done. The lesson we should be learning with all of theses instances is that the residents of Sturbridge have given those behind the gavel carte blanche to do as they will. This is our fault. We should expect more from them, and we should be more vigilant. I can't believe I let this one get by me, too.


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