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

Monday, July 2, 2012

Spare Them The Drama, Just Remove The Stumps

Willard Road the morning after the tornado.
After one year the stumps on Willard Road are finally being addressed.  Why after twelve months is the BOS so worked up?  Why not immediately after the tornado as the clean up was being done, or a few months after?  

And, why all the drama?  

Because, the stump removal was forgotten, overlooked, and the stumps were out of sight.  There is no way that the BOS was not aware of the stumps still being on Willard Road. The issue was brought up, and outrage was feigned at the June 25th BOS meeting.  

A little late for that.  As Greg Morse, Director of the DPW stated that night,  “We need a little guidance on our end. Where do you want us to start? Where do you want us to stop?”.

Great questions.  A little leadership, and some guidance would be nice.  It would have been nice twelve months ago.  In fact, it should have been asked for twelve months ago if none was being offered.

The stumps are on town land.  They are town stumps, and regardless of the tornado turning trees into stumps, the town owns them, and needs to remove them.  The trunks, limbs and branches that once were a part of those very stumps have long since been removed.  There was money for trunk and limb removal, but none for the rest of the tree?

One of the alleged stumps seen here still attached to the
rest of itself.  The rest of the town owned tree has long
since been removed.
The town has the equipment to remove the stumps.  They have the employees, and the know how.  Now, this has become maintance of town land project; an ongoing process.  Do we really need a Special Town Meeting to seek funds to dig up the stumps, load them into a dump truck, or flatbed, and haul them off?  Isn't this something that our DPW can handle, should have handled, and should have been instructed to handle long ago?

Close the curtain on all the drama.  Just remove the stumps, and give Willard Road back to the folks that live there.  They already had their fair share of hot air last summer.

Article published Jun 26, 2012

Sturbridge selectmen frustrated by pace of tornado cleanup

• Tornado cleanup stalls

STURBRIDGE —  The chairman of the Board of Selectmen, Thomas R. Creamer, chastised the town administrator for the delay in removing three tree stumps on Willard Road, more than a year after the tornado that felled them hit.

In a 5-0 vote last night, the selectmen directed the department of public works director to develop a plan for “immediate removal” of the stumps, which are in the town's right of way, and to have a plan ready for the board's review by July 9.

During Department of Public Works Director Gregory H. Morse's monthly report, Mr. Creamer expressed his frustration with what he called the lack of attention being paid to Willard Road.

“Twelve months after the tornado, we still have three tree stumps that are owned by the town and are on town property,” Mr. Creamer said. “And those individuals who are trying to move on with their lives and, in some cases, sell their homes that have been repaired and rebuilt, are being challenged to do so because of that.”

Mr. Creamer said no amount of explanation could ever satisfy him as to why residents on Willard Road are still dealing with the stumps.

“If we would not accept those (stumps) being left on Route 20, then we should not accept them being left on Willard Road because that was the epicenter of the tornado,” Mr. Creamer said. “I cannot reconcile in my mind that the residents of Willard Road are stuck with town's trash on their street, and that's what it amounts to.”

Mr. Creamer made his complaint to Mr. Morse, but said he did not hold him responsible for the delay because the DPW director takes orders from the town administrator.

Mr. Morse said last night that two days after tornado hit, he told them that cleanup could cost anywhere from $500,000 to $8 million. And today, the town could spend $1.5 million on stump removal.

“It depends on what conditions are selected and how far or how big or how small it gets. And the stumps are no different,” Mr. Morse said. “We need a little guidance on our end. Where do you want us to start? Where do you want us to stop?”

Town Administrator Shaun A. Suhoski told the selectmen that the curbside collection of 15,000 cubic yards of tornado debris took a month to six weeks. He added that the Federal Emergency Management Agency's eligibility response is for public safety, not aesthetic issues and, at the time, the town didn't have a project to address the former.

Mr. Suhoski said the plan for further cleanup is to tap into the governor's supplemental funds grant, which was announced June 1. If the town strikes out with the grant, Mr. Suhoski said the town would have to go to a special town meeting to seek money for stump removal. 


  1. I agree on all counts. Where is the leadership in this town? Why would we have to have another meeting to vote on the funds for this cleanup? Why can't the current staff take care of this? As someone who approached the BOS after the October storm regarding another matter, I, too, am waiting for resolution. Ridiculous!

  2. We've borrowed to the hilt and spent the money on so many lovely things, but we can't remove three tree stumps? Sigh... my delusions of grandeur are beginning to fade.

  3. As stated, this should have been taken care of months ago, it wasn't. Now it could have been dealt with quietly, it wasn't. Tom has to go around beating his chest and beating up on Shaun. The BOS is becoming quite a sideshow

  4. Get it done for the love of god. Send the DPW out there, it will take them a couple hours. We dont need to raise funding for it, the DPW director needs to point a truck and two guys in the direction of Willard Rd.

  5. To Anonymous who wrote that this should be taken care of quietly:
    "Quietly" hasn't been working for a long time!

  6. Quietly....Really?Tuesday, July 03, 2012

    Watched a lot of meetings and this subject came up a number of times. Wonder how many times it came up "quietly" with no results. The above anonymous is right. "Quietly" doesn't get it done around here for some reason. Remember the town hall front doors, river-lands, piles of dead wood on 15 for 8 months. Yup, quiet didn't get it done then, didn't get it done this time. Bet it gets addressed now though. Pretty easy to ask for quiet when you're not living with the problem for a year like some of us are.

  7. News flash...TA reports to selectboard last night that stumps being taken care of...after multiple requests over many months stumps finally getting, must have been that quiet method...NOT

  8. I'm not sure why people are taking the BoS chairman to task. If Creamer didn't follow up on these issues constantly, especially after asking several times in the last year about this particular issue, probably another year would pass and they would still be rotting there.

    DPW "Director" - that is the person in charge of removing the stumps and he reports to the town administrator. There's the problem, two people who don't know how to lead and who don't do their very well paid jobs.

    Also, one of the stumps on Willard Road is too large to even cut up with a chain saw. It has to be split with a special tool, then hauled away in pieces. But a year is way too long to figure that out.


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