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, January 31, 2012
In the spring of 2010 it was official that we had made it through the financial debacle that was called the Great Recession, and in 2012 we can finally begin to take a well deserved deep breath.
Growth took a while to filter down to rural America, but despite the fact there are still wrinkles to iron out in the economy, industry is coming out of their bomb shelters, and beginning to rebuild. We are finally seeing some of that rebuilding here in Sturbridge.
And, it's about time.
In the last few weeks it has been announced that a 1200 seat movie theater has been approved, and will be built in the former Linen 'n Things building at Hobbs Brook Plaza. Corporations do not invest in new projects when the outlook is uncertain. This is one more sign that our future is bright.
The former Basketville building has been purchased by two local dentists, and not only will their practices be located in the building, but other retail space will be rented out within the building as well as the out building. A restaurant is also planned for the lower level. The new owners have enough faith in where the area is headed to invest their future in it.
The old Hebert Candy building at the corner of Haynes Street (old Route 15), and River Street has also been purchased by a local bio optical company that will locate offices, and labs in the building. Other buildings on the site will be leased to other businesses. The company needed space to grow.
Yes, they need space to grow.
Jobless rates are lower than one year ago, but until they are fully restored to pre-recession levels, we won't be fully "recovered". With these new purchases, and projects, happening here in town, we are that much closer to being in that place again.
With all the dark economic news we all have endured since late 2006, it does a person good to hear this bit of great news for the area.
Yes, it is about time.
Friday, January 27, 2012
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
All the effects would all be indirect, but substantial.
One way a casinos presence next door in Brimfield would indirectly benefit the communities around it would be in the real estate market, and in businesses that would be in place, or come into place, to support a bump in population. Home prices would naturally rise due to the demand for roofs over the heads of the workers that would build the facility, and those that will work there after it is built. The current inventory of homes, and apartments, in the immediate area would soon be exhausted thus stimulating new construction. Businesses that are in place to support the construction would flourish.
A bump up in the areas population would spur businesses to support that bump. Supermarkets would expand, and new ones built. Roads repaired. More banks would be built. Pharmacies would be built. Large childcare facilities would be attracted to an area with a sudden rise in population. The areas support services such as fire and police would need to be adjusted. Brimfield itself would see those departments grow, and of course, a deal with the casino owners would help with new equipment in town, and on the site of the casino.
More people, and more businesses would mean more taxes raised in area communities. That will make any a town administrator smile.
All in all, a casino will take a long dormant economy in Central Mass, and give it a needed shot of B-12. Once under its influence, it will be up to the nearby communities to insure the effect does not wear off before they accomplish the things that have been on their wish list, and start the things they will need to add.
This will most definitely be the shot in the arm we have dreamed of. We may not always like the way our medicine is given, but most often we are happy with the results.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
The Board of Selectmen need to play a bit of hardball with National Grid. Testifying to the incompetence of National Grid during the storm was great, now they need to set standards for Sturbridge, and insist that they be followed to avoid a repeat of the October power outage.
When a warning of a hurricane comes from a meteorologist on TV we listen, and act accordingly; when a warning about ineffective tree trimming comes from our Tree Warden we would need to be as attentive. If we don't heed the warning, we'll be cursing National Grid in the dark again.
|Snow damage to National Grid lines in Glastonbury Connecticut. |
All of NationalGrid coverage area was out of commission due to
the early, heavy snow in October 2011.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Sunday, January 15, 2012
Over eating, alcohol, drug abuse, gambling are among some actions that initially started of with a decision. Eventually, choice is no longer an option due the chemicals ones head is craving.
It is important to acknowledge that there are a percentage of the population that have a difficulty with some things others may not. Those affected need support, and ways to function despite their hurdles.
I have never had an issue with any town I have ever lived in having a liquor store within its borders despite the fact there were those that had an issue with alcohol living in town. The fact is that there were far more people that did not have a problem with alcohol than those that did. Each town did have support programs available for those that chose to take part.
The same can be said for those that over ate, gambled, and abused chemicals. Restaurants and food stores remained open, lottery tickets were still sold, and drug stores did not close up shop, and become a Starbucks.
That all being said, what about a casino resort here in Central Massachusetts? Do we need a casino out here?
We need the jobs that will come from constructing such a venue, and the estimated 3000 plus jobs that will be available after it is built. Employment opportunities in Central MA have never been great, and since the Great Recession hit in late 2006, employment has pretty much dried up. Unless, you wanted a minimum wage job to support a family of four on, you were SOL.
If we could make the same number of jobs in another way, that would be awesome, but unless someone wants to build a theme park in Hardwick, or a Mall of America in Rutland, it simply ain't gonna happen, or even come close. Here in the Heartland of Massachusetts we have been behind the low employment, low income eight ball for far too long.
MGM is currently promoting a resort casino it would like to build in Brimfield on 150 acres along the Mass Turnpike. The plan is to build ramps from the Pike to allow people access to the casino. There would be no access from the town side except for emergency vehicles. This plan, and the footprint on the surface sounds very good.
Bottom line is that a resort casino IS going to happen in Massachusetts whether we want it or not.
There will be many other ways a casino resort will affect the area. Traffic along I-84, and the Turnpike will spike, and plans to allow for that will need to be made. Real estate prices are going to rise. All those construction workers, and future casino employees are going to need roofs over their heads.
The supermarkets in the area will be tested, and new ones may be built along with all those other little businesses that show up with upward bumps in population.
So, here we are, at the crossroads of an age of poor employment, and all the positives that could come from new paychecks in Central MA, and our continued desire to live in an area that time has put on the back burner, sequestered off the beaten path.
Can we have it both ways? Can it work? We are in such dire straights now, and no one else has a plan. I say go for it. Go for it, and put in the controls to make it work well.
Now, sip your coffee, talk amongst yourselves, and let me know what I'm missing.
One more thing, don't get your shorts all in a bunch about gambling addiction, and how it ruins families, and lives. That's a given. We all know that, and wish it was another way, but this time let's stick with other arguments that are pursued less often.
Friday, January 13, 2012
Since 2006 I have seen the vegetation management folks, that National Grid had contracted, twice on Route 148. Not bad, twice in 5 five years. Now, I don't want to exonerate National Grid, but since I have witnessed the tree service company trimming trees along Brookfield Road, the entire blame cannot be laid on National Grid. The tree service company must be held accountable as well since they left a great deal of vegetation hanging that would affect the lines if storm like we had hit. They did remove limbs, and branches, but no where near the amount that was needed.
The did the minimum, and collected their check. This is obvious from the results last October.
So, we have a situation that not only had bad management of the vegetation, but a tree service company that did the minimum for whatever reason. A bad combination of events that kept most of us with out electrical power for a week.
Question: Who in town is going to follow behind the tree service company this time to insure that the vegetation is thoroughly removed, or do we wait until the next big storm to find out if the job was done right?
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
The excitement about the possibility of a movie theater
coming to town is palpable.
The traffic study done a few years ago show that the added traffic can be handled by Route 20, and the Plaza itself. With traffic, comes more people, and people carry wallets. The stores at the Plaza will appreciate the new influx of wallets coming for movie, and maybe shooting over to Stop & Shop for something for dinner later in the day. Dinner before, or after the film at Applebee's or Uno's would be convenient, too.
A movie theater would attract folks from all over central Worcester County. The nearest movie complex is in Millbury. Eight screens will be on the small side, compared to Millbury's theater, but for us it would be fantastic, and will most definitely fill a void in the area.
Anytime a new bunch of people are drawn to an area they would not have otherwise been drawn to is always great for the community, and the businesses within that community. It gives us a chance to show off what we have to offer, and if we do it right, local businesses will be smiling a whole lot more.
Date night will be so much more convenient.
Sunday, January 8, 2012
Sunday, January 1, 2012