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, December 10, 2013

What Do The People Really think?

Todays guest columnist is Marilyn Desy.--ed

 A couple of us have been observing, and asking a few questions at the working meetings of the Commercial Tourist District Working Group, as well as their, better attended, Commercial Tourist Community Public Meetings. The public meetings are held upstairs at the Town Hall’s Veteran’s Hall. The last public meeting filled that smallish hall, and more questions were asked before the entire room than were asked in the previously, more controlled, public meetings held by the Commercial Tourist District group and the hired consultants.
I've been told by a couple of board and committee members, who are interested and involved with this plan for the alteration of Route 20, that the people of Sturbridge are in favor this plan. I’ve asked how that can assumed, when only a small number of people actually know about it. The reply was that the people who don't get to these meetings, the dates of which are posted in the newspaper and at the post offices, are agreeing to the plans by not attending the meetings to voice opposition. Many people are disillusioned and say that no matter what they do or say, those in power will do whatever they want to do.

I know that by not going to meetings in numbers large enough for the opposition to really be heard, these people will be over-ruled and forgotten. People choose not to attend meetings, or cannot attend meetings for many reasons, not the least of which is because of feeling intimidated.
We seem to have a special society of many board and committee members and their family and friends who, more often than not act as a block, to get whatever they want.

I have a question for those now in control of this town. My question is this: Isn't it morally wrong for these, mostly appointed people, even to “propose” huge needless projects that will cost many people money they just cannot afford?
I cannot put all of the blame on people who don't go to meetings. These people pay their taxes and depend on the people in power to be responsible and reasonable, because it is assumed they asked to be appointed to these positions for the good of the town. Therein lies another question: Most boards and committees are appointed. Why are so many boards and committees appointed rather than elected? To get appointed one must apply, then be selected by the Town Administrator, and then be approved by the Board of Selectmen. Is this the way it should be done? Doesn't this give those in power free reign to accept only people who think like themselves? Perhaps, if those who are appointees, actually ran for office, the people who vote at election time would make some changes.
                                                                                           ~submitted by  Marilyn Desy


  1. I would like to add that some of my friends and relatives in town have been asking for the opinions of their acquaintances in who live in Sturbridge/Fiskdale. They've told me that the people they've spoken to are against the roundabout and the other Route 20 changes in this plan.Several times they have reported reactions of disbelief that these things are even being considered. I wouldn't dare include the strong verbiage they've listened to here.

  2. The $125,000 spent to hire Pare consultants would have been better spent to purchase remote voting equipment for the Town Meetings. If there was any one thing that would encourage people to attend the meetings the ability to vote in privacy would be it. It is being done in other towns. Just imagine what a game changer that would be.

  3. Change isn't a bad thing Rt. 20 as it is today is out of date and disfunctional and lets not forget unattractive. We look like we're stuck in the 70's. I for one beleive the round abouts would be a good thing. But if we take on this prodject it should be conditional of several things 1) outside funding 2) the wires should definately be buried 3) if we are going forward I wouild like to see a second design (opinion) from another company.

  4. Remote voting machines is one way to go about it, i would be interested in it. Another thing that i have been thinking about when it comes to big bucks spending... If something is going to cost over say 500k i think it should go to the voters at an election and not at town meeting. At the last town election on 4-9-12 we had a 21.93% turnout, that's a heck of a lot better than the 4% or so that attend ATM. Even the special state primary on 4-30-13 had a 12.99% turnout. There is a real problem with spending being voted on by 100-300 people at least with a ballot question we will get maybe 1000 voters. I assume a change like that would have to come through a change in the charter but i am not certain.

  5. Scott, we've been told for years and are still being told that we can't afford to bury the lines. Now we have plans to do this big project, including widening those sidewalks, but removal of the poles and wires is not going to happen. As they continue to say, "We can't afford to do that." So, I ask again, why would we even consider these plans? We have telephone poles in the middle of the sidewalk, and even with implementation of the new plan (which I think is ill conceived as well as poorly drawn) we would still have poles in the middles of the sidewalks. Why spend the money to "modernize" the problem?


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