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
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
A Place Unlike Anyplace Else
The area along Route 15 has land enough to build on. Some of the land is protected conservation land, some of it isn't.
The land is at the junction of TWO major interstate highways, one a north-south route, and the other an east -west route.
Thousands travel this route daily on their way to destinations other than Sturbridge, Massachusetts. We should change our name to Bypass like in the old comic strip "Kudzu".
These routes are a goldmine. They have been in our midst for 50 plus years, and we have done very little to exploit them. Actually, other than a sign, or two, telling drivers where Old Sturbridge Village is, or where Jellystone Park is located, there is very little.
Look at Kittery, and Freeport, Maine, and North Conway, New Hampshire. Has development helped their areas? Do you remember where they were before they encouraged development?
OK, the land is there, the taxes are needed, and business growth is a good thing, so how do we accomplish it?
Marketing. Aggressive marketing to specific "Wrentham Outlet" type destination development groups.
How do we sell it? Offer them tax incentives, water and sewer service to their facilities when they build, and our willingness to work with the developers.
What do we ask of them in exchange? A little help with the infrastructure around the development. Road improvements, traffic lights, and other improvements to support the development, and the numbers of people that will visit it.
You need to keep in mind that there is probably no other location anywhere in New England like ours. A short drive to New York City, an even shorter drive to Boston, and to any of the other New England States.
The amount of money that would come into our town in the form of spending would be enormous. Taxes paid to the town would be fantastic even if an incentive was given.
The Shepard parcel, and a betterment fee? The amount would be paltry compared to the money coming in once the flow was begun. Get over the betterment fee.
Imagine, an area of undeveloped land at the intersection of two interstates at the border of two wonderful states that sees thousands of travelers whizz by hourly. Now, imagine the people that have the foresight, vision, and ability to take this to the next level. They are all around us.
Enough talk. We need the type of take charge people that can make us a destination for many more than currently come to town.
Opportunity has been served to us on a silver platter, and it has been sitting on the table for far too long.