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 1, 2013
I've also written about the downright foolish things. There have been a lot of those. I live for those moments.
Today I felt something I have never felt about my town before. I felt shame.
I saw many people walking on Route 20 because the town will not plow the sidewalks. The recent storm dumped a foot of snow on Sturbridge, and our roads were tended to in good fashion as they always are, but for yet another winter our sidewalks were not touched. The town has ruled that those that own a business, or their home, along a sidewalk must clear the sidewalk in front of their property themselves. The town will not do it.
How is the towns responsibility for the town built roadways any different than the town built sidewalks is beyond me. Property owners aren't required to shovel the street yet, but there may come a time.
Driving along Route 20 showed almost the entire sidewalk was untouched except in some areas that had been shoveled with a path about 18 inches wide from property line to property line, and then stopped. Some of the shoveled areas still had many inches of snow left in place.
The most ludicrous sight I saw was the sidewalk along the town owned land at the corner of Main Street and Cedar Street had been plowed by the town right to the property line, and at the property line the the unplowed sidewalk remained.
I'll tell you what this says. It says that the town will only make safe for the residents pieces of sidewalk along town land. At the end of the town owned land, where the unplowed sidewalks live, where the safe town path has led you, is a path that is obviously unsafe to tread.
The town knows this, but will continue to clear bits and pieces leading to the unsafe paths forcing you to walk in the street. The town is actually encouraging you to walk in the street, instead of using the sidewalks we paid to have constructed. When the sidewalks were built they were built as year round sidewalks, not as seasonal paths.
Imagine a family pushing a stroller on a sunny winter day on the roadway of Route 20 near Motel 6, and a car being driven by a driver unfamiliar with the area rounds the bend, and takes out the entire family.
It can happen, but lets just sit back sand see how long it will take. Like we are waiting to see when the next fatality occurs at the intersection of New Boston Road, and Route 20.
Bottom line is the sidewalks were built to make foot traffic safe for people along the roadways in town. They were built for us as year round structures. We did not agree to them being three season.
If the town can drive their tractor from the town shed to the corner of Main and Cedar, and back again, then how much more money is it going to cost to clear the sidewalks on the way there, and back again?
Really. How much money did we save?
I challenge the Selectmen to give a rational reason why this bylaw is in place along with an accounting of just how much money has been saved since it went into effect.
Are we in that much fiscal trouble here in Sturbridge that we can no longer afford to perform simple highway maintenance?