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, December 2, 2013

Time To Express Your Concerns, And Ask Questions

The article below was submitted by Sturbridge resident Barbara Search.--ed.

The Sturbridge Commercial Tourist District Committee will hold their third and final public presentation on changes to Rt. 20 on Wednesday, December 4 at 6:30 p.m. at the Town Hall.
This committee hired Pare Corp. of Lincoln, RI to plan changes on Rt. 20 in the Fiskdale section of town.  One hundred twenty thousand dollars ($35,000 from the Sturbridge Tourist Association, $25,000 from the Betterment Fund, $60,000 directly from the taxpayers) was approved at the last Annual Town Meeting to hire Pare.
Changes in the “plan” include a roundabout at the intersection of Rtes. 20 and 131, creation of a left turn heading west at Rt. 20 and Stallion Hill Rd., “tightening” the right turn onto Stallion Hill Rd. when traveling east, expanding the sidewalks by 3 feet resulting in a narrower Rt. 20, increased landscaping, and additional other changes.

Concerns that received little attention are safety at current pedestrian crosswalks and increased parking. In the plans additional landscaping often trumped issues concerning traffic flow and safety.

I encourage everyone who has concerns and questions regarding the proposed changes to attend this meeting.  Residents should know why these changes are being proposed, what benefits will be derived from them, and at what cost. 

Submitted by Barbara Search


  1. Thank you for your important posting, Barbara, It's time for people to sit up and take notice - and to head down to the final meeting before these plans go to the state.

    It's time, friends and neighbors, to ask questions and express your concerns publicly, if you feel you can do that, even if no one asks you to address your concerns to the entire group at the meeting. In any case please attend and listen to the presentation. It will affect us all.

    One of my many concerns is for anyone trying to pull out of one of the many businesses on the right, as vehicles travel through the proposed large, double-laned, roundabout heading west on Route 20. Right now we wait for a space in the traffic flow to pull out of McDonald's, The Host, The Oxhead Tavern, Sturbridge Seafood, Sal's and other places of business. We get a little lull in the traffic from the traffic lights at Routes 20 and 131, so we do get, at least a small chance to pull out onto Route 20. A roundabout would mean the elimination of the Route 20 and 131 traffic lights. Think about that. No lull from the lights. Where's the break to allow us back on to Route 20 when leaving from the businesses down there?

    I believe I have heard, at the working meetings, more concern about planting trees, shrubs, and flowers than about safety and road design.

    This is important. Please ask friends and neighbors to attend the meeting and to see the plans for themselves. Barbara Search as listed the time and place in her posting above.

  2. What concerns me is that this is a huge deal. I do my best to stay on top of the happenings in town and check the towns website daily and i did not see this meeting. This should be a bit bolder on the site. Front and center is the recommendation for the fire chief, this is more important in my opinion. Maybe it is just how my browser is set up, the town news is visible but the upcoming meetings section is not. A meeting of this magnitude should be a headline and promoted more than it was. On the community access channel it would be helpful if they constantly scrolled the upcoming meetings instead of the important phone numbers that are available in the phone book and online.

  3. Thomas ChamberlandTuesday, December 03, 2013

    In response to Rob, Like any web site, one has to learn where things are. This meeting has been posted under the "Town News" section, and now the "meetings section". Also, on the far left side of the town web page one can click on the "subscribe to news" button and identify what you want to be personally notified on.... There have also been articles in the local papers on this also.
    > Tom Chamberland

  4. Thanks for the heads up on the notifications Tom. I thought that was only for emergencies. I will be signing up momentarily.

  5. I was bummed that i was not able to attend the meeting. What stage are we in right now? So are they going to eliminate the jughandle at stallion hill? Would there be a light there or not? Where do people turn around that want to head back east on Rt 20? Was the question of cost addressed at the meeting? With the decreased lane size will we still be able to pull around someone who is taking a left? Right now there is just enough room to get by someone if they are close to the double lines. Last question i have is there a map somewhere on line showing what the road will look like? That would answer most of the questions i have. I saw a picture the other day online but it was not a map, now i cannot seem to find it.

  6. There is a Public Hearing scheduled for Jan. 14 2014. Public Hearings are usually the last opportunity for the public to comment. The jug handle will still be there and turns to go east will be possible at the jug handle. There will be eight foot sidewalks on each side of the street in addition to five foot bikeways and a median down the middle. I don't know where they will find the space except to narrow the driving lanes by a considerable amount. Decorative lighting will be installed on the south side of Rt. 20 along with a lot of landscaping throughout. There will be a 2-lane roundabout at the intersection of Rt. 20 and Rt. 131 with 3 feeds.
    There was a comment from the audience that there must be a 10% functional design (I hope I'm using the right terms) done before the State will consider the plan. That has not been done, yet. I also question if the Police, Fire, and DPW have been seriously consulted during this planning process.
    The cost in 2013 dollars is 10.9 million. They suggest phases. Phase 1 - Rt. 148 to Cedar St. at 5 million; Phase 2 - Cedar to Rt. 131 at 2.9 million; Phase 3 - Rt. 20 and Rt. 131 the roundabout at 2.3 million. They are hoping that State and Federal governments and other grant money will pay for it. We know how that goes - we've come this far and have $???? invested, we have to continue spending or our previous money spent will be lost.
    My concern is that this is an ill conceived plan. The roads are too narrow, there is no additional parking, enhancements to safety at the crosswalks is minimal, the roundabout will choke traffic rather than enhance traffic flow, the Stallion Hill turn is not necessary and will cause drivers to wait longer for the additional time at the light (better signage would fix the problem). trees on the roundabout will obstruct drivers' view, trees on the medians will likely die from lack of space, and from salt and sand.
    Where are the plans to create another Park & Ride lot, to accommodate future public transportation, to provide parking for people who may decide to stop and shop on their way through town. The consultants said they determined there is no need for more parking?
    Remember, you hire consultants to tell you what you want to hear. That's their job.
    This plan is short on practicality and long on aesthetics.

  7. We've heard so many times that we cannot afford to remove the telephone poles from the middles of the sidewalks and bury the wires. I believe that's true as it would be very expensive to do that. So the wider sidewalks planned for Fiskdale would still have phone poles in them. What's wrong with this picture?

  8. Is the meeting going to be replayed on SCTV? I am surprised it has not been on yet. It has been a week and i have not seen it yet.


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