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, April 30, 2011

A Very Good Start

It's a start.  Placing a non-binding question on the town meeting ballot is fine, but non-binding means just that, non-binding.  It will put the feelings of the voters in black and white, though, and maybe that means something in the long run.  The town can then go with spending the money for the variance with the support of the town if the vote falls that way, or not feel obligated to if the vote falls in that direction.  Or, do nothing.  After all, it is non-binding.

What is more impressive than wanting to put a question on the ballot is Selectman Tom Creamers admission that more oversight should have been had by all, including himself.  Mark this day down.  It is a rare occasion that a politician admits that things could have been done better, and that they missed the boat. A rare day.

Actually, it is a very good start.

From the Worcester Telegram

"After apology, doors open to vote

By Craig S. Semon 

STURBRIDGE —  After the chairman of the Board of Selectmen beat himself up for not knowing the Town Hall’s front doors were not going to be open for public use, his fellow board members voted to place a
non-binding question to the voters on the matter.

On Monday night, Thomas R. Creamer cited for his fellow selectmen problems plaguing the town, that, if solved, could become burdens to taxpayers.

“I don’t think I’ve done a good job asking questions that should have been asked,” Mr. Creamer said. “We didn’t do — I didn’t do a good job of questioning the Town Hall/Center Office Building Committee. We met with them four times. I didn’t do a good enough job of questioning whether or not we’re ever going to be able to use the front doors. It’s not a question that I thought I would have to ask but, in hindsight, I should have.”

A $5.2 million restoration and rehabilitation project is nearly done for the Town Hall and Center Office Building. As a result, the rear entrances to both buildings are the main entrances, because the front doors are not in compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. Previously, Mr. Creamer, who has been on the board since 2009, said he was taken by surprise when he learned earlier this year that the public could not use the front doors.

Mary Blanchard, the senior member of the board, and Town Administrator Shaun A. Suhoski were also unaware of the lack of front door access. On Feb. 22, Mr. Suhoski told the board that when he learned there were not even going to be door handles on the front door of Town Hall, he said, along with the building committee, “Put the door handles in.”

“It seems like all the questions that we don’t ask end up going back on the taxpayers,” Mr. Creamer continued. “We didn’t address the front doors soon enough, so now the taxpayers are going to have to come up with some money if they decide if they want to use the front doors on a nearly $5 million project.”

The board voted to place a non-binding question that asks voters if they support spending $10,000 to submit a variance request to the State’s Architectural Access Board to open the Town Hall’s front doors. "

$10,000.00 to ask for a variance?  Really?  


  1. I read a recent article where Finance committee chair Kevin stated he knew early on the front doors would not be open after the Town Hall project was finished. He should have told elected officials this information.

  2. Someone made a decision to not make those doors compliant!

  3. I'll read the non binding question very carefully. Hopefully folks will be able to vote in such a way that a "no" vote on spending money won't be taken as the voters approving of not opening those doors.

    Some will vote for spending the money (up to $10,000) for a 50-50 chance of getting a variance. Some will not vote to spend that money. That will not mean that they approve of keeping front doors unavailable to the public.

    A variance would let us get away with someone's purposeful non compliance. I do not blame Mr. Creamer for not asking about every last detail. Someone made a decision to not provide handicap accessibility and they should have told us all what they had done long ago. If we had known this could have been prevented before it was done.

    The same goes for the windows.

  4. "$10,000 for a variance?" Well, perhaps not exactly. The way I understood it from watching BOS meetings went something like this: Mary Dowling didn't ask for, say, $20,000, or so because she thought the voters would turn down such a high amount - so she decided to ask for $10,000 because she thought it should be enough, or perhaps more than enough...


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