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

Thursday, December 4, 2014

They Just Like To Dot The I's, Cross the T's, Loop The J's, Coil The G's, Bump The B's, and Wiggle The S's, That's All.

Sturbridge isn't too serious about attracting new business to town.  If someone has an idea for a business, maybe a piece of land to place it on here in town, then they should consider it good retirement income, because it is going to take forever to get it approved.

The hotel project for the corner of New Boston Road, and Route 20 that was given permission to begin construction back in 2010 is only just now rounding the last bend in the approval process.

Four years.

Four years of plans, and re-plans.  Vernal pond discoveries, threatened species protection, buffer zone adjustments, size adjustments, and on and on, and on for over four years.  Now, the landowner may have contributed to the delay as well, but from what I've read, it appears that life just goes at a much slower pace here in Bugtussle than in the big city, and this project isn't on the Top Ten list for the town.  Actually, I don't think there is a Top Ten list of things to get done here in town, just a list of stuff to see about someday.

Was it all the waiting necessary?  Hard to say, I am not on any of the committee's, or boards that demanded adjustments along the way, and I am not up to speed on any of the requirements the town insisted on to get this far.  However, I do own a calendar, and I am well adept at reading it, and my calendar has indicated that it has taken a very long time to get this far in the project.   It took four years to reduce the project by 1.4 acres, and .35 acres of pervious area.

The landscape plan for the area surrounding the proposed hotel is going to have 88 trees, 200 shrubs, over 500 perennials including ground covers, and grasses.  This is a pretty extensive plan.  Although, the actual layout has not been shared, it must need a bit of a tweak since the Planning Board feels it could be done better.  Apparently, the plan is not specific enough for the Planning Board.

They know best.

They want to be sure that this corner business is attractive to the eye for folks living in town, and those coming from all over the world.  I like the way they think, but I also think at this point in the process, and it being  over two years since the old hotel was torn down, and the ground has been left looking like a playground in Chernobyl, that a daisy in a milk carton would make the site look 100 % better.

Simple Rule # 23:  When there is no urgency felt by those making decisions, then decisions will be made without any urgency attached.

 Is four years a bit long to get to this point?  Probably.  Would the process moved faster in another community?  Only if there was an urgency to attract new business, get it up and running ASAP without compromise, and create a welcoming atmosphere to attract other businesses.

The current plan is to begin hotel construction in the spring if the current plans pass muster with the Conservation Commission, and the Planning Board in a few weeks.  Drainage is the next topic.

I guess the bottom line is that a new facility is coming to town eventually, and it replaced the old American Motor Inn that desperately needed to come down, and, it will be nice to see a new facility welcoming those that come into town off of Exit 3b.  Visitors will smile when they drive down Route 20, and look around them, and see that not much more has changed over the past 10 to 15 years.   I guess that is why most visitors come, to experience the history, and ambiance in a history loving town where time doesn't really stand still, it just moseys real slow.

Real slow.

Just as nature supposedly abhors a vacuum, Sturbridge isn't too fond of change, especially fast change.


  1. I agree that this thing has taken way too long. I am not surprised at all though. I appreciate the caution going forward with the plan but there is a point where is sorta turns into a circus. I give the developer credit for not walking away. If i was the developer and could afford it, i would have walked away to make a point.

    I still have concerns about the project but would like to see it move forward just to clean up the site. I really think the property would be fine with just a hotel, we do not need another restaurant in town, another bank... is that really necessary? I can think of 8 within a mile of the site. I just did a quick google search for motel/hotels in town and came up with 12 or 13 of them. Is that enough? I don't know how many we need. I am not going to try and count the restaurants in town. There are only so many hungry mouths and adding another is just taking away from the other restaurants in town in my opinion.

    The last real concern i have is traffic... Lets face it that intersection sucks. Increased traffic there is not going to help. I have heard about turn lanes, right turn only and a rotary. None of them give me a warm and fuzzy feeling. The only option that seems to make any sense would be a rotary at 131 combined with right turn only. Imagine if it was right turn only coming out and needing to go to the jughandle at the village to turn around. Look at that situation now on any given day and the knuckle heads making u turns there. I am likely making too big a deal about the traffic impact. I can't see this whole development bringing more people to the town, just people changing where they sleep, eat and bank.

    When this is all settled with the boards and commissions what will be the next circus? Im betting it will be the gateway tourist district and revitalization. Can we get an over/under on the amount of years that will all take?

    1. A few years ago I read that Sturbridge had more hotel rooms than Worcester. No real surprise there, most of the motels were constructed years ago for the OSV crowd, and did double duty three times a year for the fleamarket in Brimfield. We are fortunate to have the number of fine restaruants we have here in town. I don't know what kind of restaraunt is planned for the project, but I pray it is not a chain. I am waiting to see if a modern sidewalk will replace the ancient footpath alongside Route 20 to town. So much concern about salamanders, and landscaping, and only a tad for pedestrian safety.


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