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

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Really? All This Over An Opinion?

Code of Conducts are important.  I live by my own personal code, and follow a similar one at work.  Politicians have a code of conduct as well.  You can imagine the items that are mentioned in a politicians code of conduct, and having an opinion is not one of them.  Opinions define just who a politician is.  Whether they are sitting "behind the table", or walking along Main Street, they represent us, and are bound to have one.  They are also bound to share it on our behalf.

Conveying ones opinion about an action, or political issue does not show disrespect, quite the contrary.  It has prompted a response, an opinion, a counter to the issue, and in politics, that shows respect.  It shows that the issue is worthy of an opinion.  Pro and con.  For and against.  Opinions matter, and must be shared appropriately.

Local politicians voicing disappointment, or opinion cannot be restricted by a code, although the manner in which the disappointment is conveyed could be.  A plane pulling a banner proclaiming, "I'm Pissed at You" would not be appropriate.  Simply stating a political decision is "illogical" and "wrong" is.  It is opinion.  It happens every hour of every day in Congress.  It is politics, just as threatening retribution is well known to those in politics, and was done in this case as well.

Opinion vs. retribution for voicing opinion.

It truly doesn't matter what prompted the issue.  It was political, and our politicians are not immune from behaving like politicians.

That's what they do.

What is important is when one that we have elected, or has been appointed to a position, is told that their spoken, appropriate opinion is against a code of conduct, then it is time to re-read that code, and if it is true, then change it.

Code of Conduct cannot be used as a guise for limiting appropriate behavior, or impinging on free speech.  We all know of times when that has happened in the past, and didn't go well for those that started it.

Limiting how one voices how they feel about decision made by the Board of Selectmen by invoking a "Code of Conduct" is something that our forefathers never intended to have happen.

Do those that are that are unnerved by opinions other than their own capable of being the representative for others that have their own opinions?  Are those with thin skin, and heavy hands, the ideal leader, or someone that can role with opinions other than their own, and not let it bother them, other than to, at the very least, respect them?

Just asking.  Talk amongst yourselves.

 Article published Feb 26, 2013

Sturbridge selectman says Planning Board members violated code of conduct

STURBRIDGE —  Several Planning Board members violated the town’s code of conduct when they took the selectmen to task for not approving one of its nominees to one of its subcommittees, according to the chairman of the Board of Selectmen.

Thomas R. Creamer, chairman, said it was “absolutely well outside of the authority” of several Planning Board members when they made disparaging comments about the selectmen earlier this month.

Furthermore, Mr. Creamer said, it was “very small” for Planning Board Chairman Sandra Gibson-Quigley not to give Selectman Priscilla C. Gimas, vice chairman of the Board of Selectmen, an opportunity to respond.

“It’s a complete violation of the code of conduct in the town of Sturbridge for these individuals to have made the comments that they made, in respect of the motivations of individual selectmen,” Mr. Creamer said. “When you’re sitting behind a table, representing the public, you have an obligation to treat all members of the public with respect. The members of this board were not treated with respect, nor was the vice chair of the Board of Selectmen, an elected official, treated with respect. And, I’m on record with this now, actions do have consequences.”

Mr. Creamer said he would reflect upon actions of individual Planning Board members when the time is appropriate on whether he would support reappointments.

On Feb. 12, Ms. Gibson-Quigley called selectmen “illogical” and “wrong,” and said they are “doing a disservice” for not appointing a person the Planning Board unanimously supported as a member of a subcommittee.

Charles T. Blanchard, who the Planning Board unanimously voted (7-0) as one of its two allotted members for the Commercial Tourist District Working Group, was shot down by the selectmen twice in two separate 3-2 votes.

Previously, Mr. Blanchard said he was concerned with Mr. Blanchard’s spouse (Mary Blanchard) serving as a member and also his level of involvement on other committees.

In a 4-3 vote, the Planning Board voted for Penny J. Dumas as their new nominee for the Commercial Tourist District Working Group. Monday night, selectmen voted Ms. Dumas in with a 2-0-1 vote (with Mr. Creamer and Ms. Gimas voting in favor and Selectman Mary Dowling abstaining).

— Craig S. Semon 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Parking Problems In Sturbridge?

Parking is something that Sturbridge lacks, and has lacked for years.  In the 1988 Master Plan a call for municipal parking was listed as being a necessity, and the subject has come up over the years as businesses were not able to do business without more parking.  There have been parking "wars", such as the one between the old owners of the Whistling Swan, and the owners of the Boardwalk Plaza next door.  The old owners are long gone, but the sentiment, and signs warning of Whistling Swan parking at the Boardwalk Plaza remain.  I don't have a clue as to why an agreement cannot be worked out.  A lease, maybe?

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Not the sign erected, but the
message is the same.
Coutesy of:
Today, T,J. O'Brien's is feeling the parking pinch from its next door neighbors, as well.  The new owners of the old Basketville building are locating their dentistry practices in the recently refurbished building, and plan to lease the remaining portions of the building.  A restaurant is planned for the lower level of the building.  The current parking lot, owned by the dentists, had been used on occasion over the years, by agreement with Basketville, for overflow parking at T.J's.  Even when Basketville was no more, T.J.'s maintained the lot, insurance, and parked their over flow in the lot.

Recently the new owners of the Basketville building erected a sign at the entrance to their lot warning that only parking for their building was allowed, and that violators would be towed.  It also stated on the sign that video cameras are being used.

One side is disappointed, and angry they will not be able to use the lot for their restaurant, the owners of the lot want to use the lot they own for their businesses, and restaurant.

I understand both sides, but the owner of the lot has say as to how the lot is used, and they have chosen to have the lot service their property.  Nothing wrong with that, they own it.  Would it be nice to allow some overflow parking from TJ's into the parking lot?  Yes, but business is seldom nice.  Business is business, and if the restaurant that will open at the old Basketville building takes off, then what?  Where do their customers park?

Comes back to the need for municipal parking in town.  Some towns have bylaws mandating the use of privately owned downtown parking lots to be accessible to all, but most have a lot set aside for public parking.  Even then, there would be some walking after one parks.  We are a town that is spread for a few miles along Main Street, and one lot would not be enough.  Until that happens we can expect more parking drama, and that does impede businesses, and growth.

Event Proposals Wanted For 275th Celebration

Hello everyone,

The Sturbridge Tourist Association (STA) is pleased to announce that it is seeking proposals for community events in celebration of the town’s 275th Anniversary. Please distribute the attached letter and application to your contact list. Various media outlets are being contacted this coming week, so if approached, please be prepared to answer any questions. 

There is $20,000 set aside to pay for such events, and the STA will accept applications that commemorate Sturbridge’s special day through fun and exciting activities. We invite all people from the town, such as church, civic and senior citizen groups, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, non-profits, and businesses, to organize and present these activities – all applications will be considered.

There must be a multitude of ideas out there and we can’t think of a better way to celebrate than to invite our residents – the people who live here and make Sturbridge what it is – to make it happen. The Town Common has been reserved for celebrations during the weekend of June 22nd and 23rd.

On March 12th at 6:30 p.m., STA members will be at the Veteran’s Memorial Hall at Sturbridge Town Hall to accept applications and answer questions. If one cannot attend the meeting on March 12th, applications will be available online at, and hard copies will be available at the Town Clerk’s office, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The application deadline is 4:00 p.m., April 15th, 2013.

Gather your friends and family around you and give every resident a birthday gift – let’s celebrate this place we call home.

Very truly yours,

The Sturbridge Tourist Association

For a copy of the application for funding of events click here.