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
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Then something begins to happen. Something unlike anything that has ever happened before: wheels begin to turn long before the issue is but a distant memory. Often in the same day! Unheard of in 1993.
Welcome to the digital age, and one of the side effects brought on by it: Rapid Accountability. No longer can an issue be swept under the rug, or put aside until the next year. Once an issue is out in the public view it will stay there until resolved, or answered for in part thanks to the internet, emails, and places like this that harp on an issue until an answer is found, a resolution proposed, and every last dead horse is beaten beyond recognition, over and over again.
It started last week with a query about why the Veterans Memorial would not be put back to where it had stood for years in front of the town hall, and the realization that there was never an intention to return it to the site outside the town hall, but rather to hang the bronze plaques on a second floor wall where people can view them during visiting hours.
People don't just stop at a Memorial to read the names, they also stop and appreciate what a community has erected in honor of its men and women that served to protect our freedoms. What has been constructed, and how the memorial is presented says so much about those that did serve, and those that are honoring them.
The same can be said when the Memorials are dismantled, and put away. It says so much about those that at one time honored them.
Now, the issue is out in the daylight. The selectmen are all aware, and looking for answers. Some may be found, but most won't be. There will denials, allegations, and accusations leveled, but in the end what will happen is a committee will be formed to study how the Veterans Memorial can be rebuilt on the original site, or across the street with the Memorials honoring our war dead, or maybe on the town common. Then money will be appropriated to hire a firm to design the monument, and to rebuild it. Hopefully, veterans could once again give their time and expertise to do both of these chores. Veterans from the Revolutionary War built the stone wall around the Old Cemetery on Main Street where many of their comrades were laid to rest.
Veterans will always take care of their own, even when a town has shifted its focus, but I hope the two parties will work hand in hand on this project.
Monday, May 30, 2011
Sunday, May 29, 2011
|The Veterans Memorial that once stood in front of the|
Sturbridge Town Hall.
No more monument to the veterans of Sturbridge outside of the Town Hall. The stone work was discarded, the plaques removed and attached to the walls on the second floor of the Town Hall. The front lawn of the Town Hall was cleared of everything except the flag pole.
There is nothing left, and the reader wanted to know why, and what could be done to return the memorial. This was was the first I had heard of the monument not returning to its original site, and I passed along the readers email to our Veterans Agent, Tom Chamberland in hopes of getting an answer. Tom was quick with a reply, but was in the dark as much as the reader and I were.
In the meantime, there seemed to be a local ground swell of anger, and disappointment that the monument was gone for good, and a petition was circulating in town wanting the Veterans Memorial restored. The petition will be circulated along the parade route on Memorial Day for people to sign to support the restoration of the Veterans Memorial.
Ironic is not a strong enough word to describe that last sentence.
We have all seen plaques that were once dedicated with pride relegated to some back wall when construction forced their being moved. Bronze honoring those that served in the Spanish American War hanging in a dark third floor hallway, or a plaque honoring those that served in Indochina being sentenced to the wall of the break room. It happens as a temporary fix, but is seldom if ever really fixed.
Whose idea was to not restore the monument? Who decided that hanging the plaques on the second floor was memorial enough for those whose names are on those plaques? Above all, when did it become the culture of the Town of Sturbridge to make decisions,and perform actions without the input of the citizenry?
Sidewalks, slate roofs, single pane windows, snow removal along our sidewalks all decided on, and on and on all decided upon at meetings, not by votes of the residents. Now, the destruction of the Town of Sturbridge's Veterans Memorial, the hanging of the once proud plates of bronze on the wall in a second floor assembly room, and no one seems to know how, or why it happened.
I want to refer you to Selectman Tom Creamers blog for additional information Tom has posted about this matter. Please take a moment to read it.
What is happening here? Something as sacred as the monuments to those that served our country in time of conflict being torn down without a plan to rebuild them?
It is not only a shame, but it is a disgrace if the Memorial is not restored.
Now, with all of the above in mind, I want to ask you to view the video below. It is about the War Memorials that were recently constructed in the Town of Auburn along Route 12 in 2010. The difference between one towns honoring of its veterans, and the way those in the brick building at the corner of Main and Maple have chosen to, is a galaxy apart. I sincerely hope there are those among us with the gumption, and resolve to once again do our veterans proud.
I also hope that in the coming days some answers will be obtained, and offered to the town, if not, then it is far past the time to reclaim our town from those that have such little respect for its citizenry, not to mention its veterans.
At the end of Tom Creamers post on his blog he wrote,
Tom, this was the "other issue" I alluded to in my previous post.
Please take a minute check out the video below, and when it has finished think about what you have just read.
I'd worry a bit about this one.
Charlton pitches for casino
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
By JOHN APPLETON
CHARLTON - The owner of 114 acres being marketed for a casino resort next to the Charlton eastbound service plaza on the Massachusetts Turnpike said he has an option to buy an additional 90 acres, which would make his parcel attractive for multiple hotels.
Vincent P. Iuliano also said that his property meets criteria advocated this month by the administration of Gov. Deval L. Patrick to locate casinos near other entertainment centers.
"I have had two inquiries for hotels, so this would be ancillary to the casino," said Iuliano, the owner of Jencent, LLC, which has been marketing its land adjacent to the turnpike to casino developers.
Iuliano said his property, bordered by the turnpike, the service plaza and a four-lane stretch of Route 20, has attracted interest from two casino resort developers: Penn National Gaming and the Seminole Indian Tribe of Florida, which owns the Hard Rock entertainment brand.
"We have water and sewer and the right zoning already. It is shovel ready," Iuliano said.
"Our location offers the operator the lowest cost access to the highways. We are the most central to all of the arteries. We do not need to move mountains or build a (highway) fly-over," Iuliano said.
Iuliano announced his potential for nearly doubling the size of his property in a letter distributed to state legislators and the press.
Legislation to legalize casino gambling was approved by both houses of the Legislature last summer but died when Patrick refused to sign it because of his objections to provisions pushed by House Speaker Robert DeLeo to allow slot machines at race tracks.
Patrick and DeLeo have had recent talks aimed at coming to agreement on terms for casino legislation this year, and the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies held a hearing on casino legislation May 4.
Iuliano said his property's proximity to the intersection of the turnpike and Interstate 84 and to entertainment sites like the Brimfield Antiques Shows and Old Sturbridge Village make it "the most advantageous casino site in the state."
Another advantage of the Charlton site is its having a population of 7.4 million people living within a 55-mile radius, Iuliano said.
There are also proposals pending for building a resort casino in Holyoke and in Palmer.
The Charlton site was being marketed as a casino site in 2010 by Springfield lawyer Paul P. Nicolai, but Iuliano said Nicolai no longer has an option to purchase the original 114 acres of Jencent property.
Iuliano said his property has 0.8 miles of frontage along the Massachusetts Turnpike, just east of the service plaza. The 114 acres is divided by Route 20, with 46 acres to the north of Route 20 and 68 acres south of it.
It is four miles east of Exit 9 in Sturbridge, the location where Interstate 84 traffic from New York and Connecticut reach the turnpike.
This property at 130 Sturbridge Road was the location of American Reclamation Co., a hazardous waste recycling business that Iuliano operated for 35 years.
Iuliano said his property was used as a facility for crushing concrete, asphalt and brick and for processing oily soils and is ready for construction of a casino and hotel.
"It is shovel ready, zoning compliant and has successfully passed a 21E (environmental test) and has drinking water quality tested monitoring wells," Iuliano said.
Iuliano said the additional 90 acres he now has an option to buy is contiguous to the 68 acres he owns south of Route 20.
In July 2010, when the Legislature was considering whether to establish geographic zones for licensing casinos in Massachusetts, the Charlton Board of Selectmen went on record urging legislators not to establish zones because that system could mean that Central Massachusetts communities would have to compete with Boston.
©2011 The Republican
© 2011 MassLive.com All Rights Reserved.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Sometimes people will act in order to turn down the volume, it's akin to swatting a pesky fly. The action is usually done by someone that has had it, and just wants to handle the issue since no one else seems to give two hoots, or know how to.
Well, it took awhile, but Selectman Tom Creamer finally got some answers, and a solution. Why was Tom successful, and others seemed to founder about? The answer is simple: he actually picked up the phone and called someone that had a clue.
No one else did. No one else had a clue as to how to fix the problem.
Tom didn't either, but he found someone that did.
This is a good thing. I have another other issue I'd like looked into, and I'll share it in my next post.
I know Tom will jump all over this next one, too.
From the Worcester Telegram:
Public access granted for Town Hall doors
by Craig S. Semon TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
STURBRIDGE — The Town Hall’s front doors, which haven’t been open to the public since the newly renovated building was opened for business in the fall, are now open to all.
The state’s Architectural Access Board voted Monday night in favor of granting Sturbridge’s request to allow the public to use the doors, despite their lack of access for people with disabilities.
Thomas P. Hopkins, executive director of the access board, said the request was granted on the condition that the town submit a formal variance request in June for Town Hall and the Center Office Building across the street.
On May 16, Mr. Hopkins came to speak to selectmen on his own initiative, he said, because he was concerned about the misinformation the town had been spreading about the state board’s requirements. He said no one from Sturbridge ever reached out to the board with inquiries or to seek guidance specific to a handicap-access variance request. Nevertheless, the town had kept the doors shut for months on the belief their being open would be in violation of state requirements for access.
Yesterday, Mr. Hopkins said if the matter had been brought to the access board at the time the project was proposed, it would have been resolved a long time ago.
“Historical buildings, as well as buildings that are undergoing this kind of significant renovations have applied for and received variance relief,” Mr. Hopkins said yesterday from his Boston office. “The board grants variances for essentially two reasons — technological infeasibility or the cost to comply is excessive without substantial benefits for persons with disabilities.”
On behalf of the selectmen, Thomas R. Creamer, the board’s chairman, yesterday thanked the access board and, in particular, Mr. Hopkins, for working to resolve the matter.
“The progress achieved over the last two weeks rests solely with the AAB and Mr. Hopkins, whose willingness to proactively initiate outreach to the town speaks to their professionalism and commitment to problem-solving,” Mr. Creamer said. “They accomplished more in two weeks than we have been able to as a community to accomplish in nearly three years.”
Monday, May 23, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
|Do you know where this sign is in Stubridge?|
Have you ever seen an old, abandoned house on the side of the road all overgrown in weeds and neglected trees and shrubs. Sometimes the house is leaning to the side, or collapsed upon itself. I always wonder about the history of the building. Why was it abandoned? Who owns it now? What happened to the family? Abandoned property is always an issue in a community for reasons as benign as the property becoming and eyesore, to the property becoming a safety concern.
Today we have a number of houses in town that can be considered abandoned due to the economic trouble we have experienced in recent years. Modern houses. Their lawns mowed once or twice a year, and no buyer in sight. They, too, will be relegated to the overgrowth in a few years, and in a few more years there will be other couples riding around wondering about the neglected house in the woods that at one time was a fine lawn. This is history forming before our eyes.
We have a few of those properties here in town, but more on those at a properties in a later post. We also have the bits and pieces of the properties that are still very active, and alive, but a portion of them have been forgotten. The abandoned sections served their purpose, and now are relegated to the Land of the Forgotten. The sign in the above photo is one of those forgotten pieces of history here in town. The ironic thing about the sign, is it is a sign about history.
At one time, the little bits that we sprinkled around to teach, explain, and tell about ourselves were valuable, and then, they are gone for a variety of reasons.
I think the sign in the photo still serves a purpose, and if you learned something new when you read it then you need to contact the owner, and have them move it so all can read it.
Do you know where it is?