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
Friday, December 4, 2015
When we found what was to become our new home last spring, and we needed to make a decision on whether to go for it before we sold our home on Brookfield Road, or wait. If we went on the side of caution, and waited to sell then the house we found would surely be sold in the interim. After years of searching we went for it. We put our Brookfield Road home on the market, and committed to the new house.
Talk about living on the edge.
We closed in early November, and moved into our new house shortly after. The Brookfield Road house is on the market as I write this. We set the price only $12,000.00 more than we paid for it in 2006. We invested much more than that amount in the house during our time there, but we understood the way of the real estate market since had moved in back in 2006. It hasn't been pretty during that time, but over the past couple of years things are looking so much better..
When we bought the home in 2006, it offered everything we wanted, and had the potential to give us so much more, and did. It had a new roof put on just prior to us buying, as well as new electrical. We added to the list over time. We hired a contractor to tear out the upstairs bathroom, and put in a new, modern bath. it came out so nice. I was inspired, and did the same to the first floor powder room. Everything we did in the house we did for us, but also we did to help when it came time to sell. One has to keep that in mind, and not choose designs that are too individual.
Since we put the house on the market we have lowered the asking price a few times, most recently last week. Our plan is to encourage a buyer to stop by, take a look , and make an offer. We're easy, and are willing to entertain offers. We aren't out to make a killing in the market. We are just looking for the next caretakers of this wonderful older home.
It will sell. I'm not worried. Yet. The house offers so much more than most in the same price range in our area.
Today, I am going to use the power of this blog to further promote our house for sale. It's kinda neat having the ability to reach a few more folks that may be looking, or know someone that may be looking. If you are interested, or know someone, click the "share" button, or the email envelope below, and send it off to them. You can always send me a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
One more thing, if you do refer someone that you feel would love our home, and they buy it, we would not only be thankful, but also pay a finders fee. That is only right.
Getting paid for a job well done is always a good thing.
Friday, October 16, 2015
In recent history, CVS has attempted to place a store in Sturbridge at the junction of Route 20, and Holland Road without success. Something about the construction, and eventual building would adversely affect the Quinebaug River. How it would adversely affect the river more than the ruins already on the site is beyond me. Again, not in my wheelhouse.
Currently, CVS is hoping to plant itself in front of the Host Hotel, on Route 20, in the spot occupied by the Exhibition Hall. The Exhibition Hall houses Bentley's Pub. The building is one hundred and forty seven years old, and was once the main building at the Sturbridge Fairgrounds. It is in excellent condition, and is historic. CVS would prefer to have a new building on that spot after the Exhibition Hall is torn down.
I don't believe the town will allow that to happen. There is a process in place to determine if a building warrants saving due to its historic significance. I hope that all the town departments will act in concert to save the building when the time comes. At present, CVS has asked to submit their site approval plan at a later date. This could mean that CVS is either thinking things over, or they are pulling out.
I have an idea.
We want to encourage large companies to come to Sturbridge, and all they need is a little guidance on just how to fulfill their plans for expansion without causing the communities, like us, from having a conniption when a piece of their town is threatened. What if the CVS architects took the existing building, and used it to house their new CVS store.
It would be a design challenge, may cost a bit more, but it would speak very loudly not only to the town, but to all the future towns it would like to build in. Imagine CVS saving an historic building in historic Sturbridge, Massachusetts so that it may be used in a new way. The good press that would generate would be a marketing departments dream, and it may even set a precedent for future building by CVS, and other companies. The goal of building a new store is met, and is met with smiling approval of the locals.
What could be better?
Can't thing of a thing. Just common sense.
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
I have been down this road before, but like any good traveler, I am willing to go there again with hopes of seeing something I may have missed before.
I have oodles of old Sturbridge stuff busting out of boxes here at this old house that needs to be in the hands of those that are willing to archive it for the future. I have had the previous two town administrators stop by the house to check out the maps, and documents with the intention of taking them off my hands for the benefit of preserving town history.
Don't know why, but maybe it has something to do with the town not having a place to display the empherma. In the meantime, I rescued it from the landfill, the internet, and a lot was given to me with the purpose of preserving it. No sense in preserving something if it can't be seen by the public.
I've had much of the collection for fifteen years. I'm still waiting on the town to step up, but I can't wait for ever.
Currently, I am packing up a lot of accumulated stuff, and I came across the town reports, and assessors reports for the Town of Sturbridge from 1902 through 1912 pictured below.
They need to find a home.
If you are a school, or a library, a historian, or a student just interested in local old stuff, please contact me, and I will be happy to put these in you hands. I have some doubles, and like baseball cards, that means there are a lot to go around.
As far as the other historic documents go, well, I don't know. I contacted the curator at Old Sturbridge Village years ago, but there was little interest. The town is not interested, and the Historic Commision has passed as well.
After fifteen years of keeping the documents safe, and no interest to take over the duty, it may be time to use Ebay to get them into the hands of collectors.
Can't say they never came home again. They just weren't wanted.
Thursday, September 24, 2015
Sorry, I've been distracted by life for the past six months. Distracted in good ways, enough to forgo sitting in front of the Macbook, and typing.
Another reason I have been a bit scarce is that when I first started writing this blog in 2007 I had a specific purpose that was enhanced by a lot of negativity here in town. A major source of negativity left the stage a couple of years ago. I felt like taking a hands on my hips stance, and proclaiming , "My work here is done", but I hung on just in case there was a reincarnation, or a copycat on the horizon.
I may be wrong, and I may be totally ignorant of the current pulse here in town, but I believe we are in a better place, a more positive, happy place, than we were in just a few short years ago. No, we don't have a train station in East Brookfield, or a faster east - west route through town, an entertainment venue, a sports complex, or a fancy visitors center on I-84, but there are those that just don't care, and are moving on. The folks at the Publick House are blowing me away. The landscaping, that became very intense a few years ago, signaled the "All's well" on the common. The tented function venue behind the inn, the granite curbs, and paved driveway, and now the wonderful renovation, and addition to the house beside the inn all show that no matter what the Publick House is invested, committed, and happy to still be here after 200 plus years.
They are reaping the harvest from the seeds they have sewn and cultivated over the past few years. Sorry about that lame gardening analogy, but it fits.
I know, there may still be some gross negativity in town, but either it is petty, or I am totally oblivious, but I am happy it is not in my face constantly as it once was. We can move on. I did not like addressing issues of malcontent. I have always known that no matter what, the dark side would eventually see the light, from either having an epiphany, or having a spot light pointed at their head, and life would go on. And, it did, and it has.
Let's keep it going.
In the meantime, we have enjoyed our time along the coast of southern Maine a great deal, and are about to close up the house for the season in October. Good times, and fun have a way of pushing one away from the computer keyboard. Next year we will open the cottage more to others to use so that we can enjoy other places that we love. Feel free to drop me a line if you are interested in renting a cottage in Wells, Maine. Have I got a deal for you. :-)
We have also been busy since the end of July searching for a new home, and we have found one here in town. In the meantime, our house on Brookfield Road is on the market. Lots going on, and all have a way of making the time I sit in front of the keyboard less of a priority.
Life. Gotta love it.
If you, or someone you know are looking for a new place to call home, have I got a GREAT deal for you!
Click here to take a peak inside our home.
Summer fun, and buying a new home are wonderful life events. We are very happy, but the best event is yet to come. My step-daughter Christine, is getting married to a wonderful man in November. This is the very best. Tony is a great guy, a loving man to Christine, and her son. Mary and I could not be happier.
So, you see now that I have shared our life for the world to see on the internet, life has not so much gotten in the way over the past six months, but we have just been blessed enough to live it.
That being said, I'll see you in March.
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
When Mary and I moved into our home, at 60 Brookfield Road in Fiskdale in 2006, one of the small things we found was the tiny sundial pictured below. I stumbled upon it this morning as I was packing up to move once more. Not to worry, we are staying in town.
The sundial is made of bronze, and has a stand on the back. I imagine it would have been very comfortable sitting on someones desk years ago.
Also on the reverse is an inscription. "Sturbridge Lat 42D 7M - Long 72D 5M JAN 1946". Apparently, this sundial, and the location inscribed on the reverse held some significance for the owner.
The map below shows the exact location of the coordinates. It falls in someones back yard. The other map is from the towns website, and shows two properties on the corner of New Boston Road, and Preserve Way, but I don't think the mystery location falls on either parcel. The town map shows two slivers of land running between the larger parcels, and those slivers are owned by the Town of Sturbridge. Seems the town has had them since 2012.
What would be so important that its location was inscribed in bronze on the backside of a tiny sundial? My imagination is telling me that it could be a lot of things. Secret, treasure things, or just some memories buried by a veteran returning from the war. Whatever the reason is, it is obvious that the location meant something to someone in 1946.
It's a mystery well worth some investigating, if for nothing else, so that we can all get some sleep tonight.
Saturday, May 16, 2015
Saturday, May 2, 2015
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
The Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis), commonly referred to as EAB, is a non-native, invasive beetle that infests and quickly kills Ash trees. EAB is now in Massachusetts and is expected to spread rapidly across the entire state in the next few years. Ash trees that are killed by EAB dry out and fall apart quickly, becoming hazards to private homes and community infrastructure, including utility lines.
Friday, April 10, 2015
As I said, I love the woods.
Sturbridge has done a wonderful job preserving the forest in which it resides. Some may feel that we have spent too much on land purchases with little return other than preservation, and recreation.
Well, that was the whole point, and putting that preserved land to use for the community is an offshoot of preservation, and if done correctly
We have done well. So many volunteers have preserved hundreds, and hundreds of acres in town, built and marked trails, and cared for them over the years.
The cost of our accumulating the now preserved land has been in the millions, and each time I pay my taxes I am reminded of the that financial sacrifice we agreed to make in order to insure that there will be forest, streams, marshes, and wildlife for our children's children. I am thankful for that so much land has been saved, and I will suck it up about the cost thus far, but, I'm done.
If there are groups that want to purchase large tracts of land here in town, then I am all for it, but no longer at my expense; there are other state run agencies, and private foundations that can be tapped to assist with the purchase.
Yep. We've bought enough. We have all we need, and now we need to concentrate finishing the work on the land we have already purchased.
So, where should we be headed if not in the direction of further land conservation? How about attracting investment in our unique geography? Business investments in our town that shares two interstate highways, several state roads, and a US highway that runs coast to coast is a no-brainer.
But how, and who would have the skill, knowledge, and passion to lead us in that direction?
Thirty minutes to our south, on I-84, in South Windsor, CT are the Promenade Shops. Dozens of high end stores set up in a town like setting that attracts thousands of shoppers from all over southern New England. That is the type of shopping venue that this part of Central Mass needs, and we are just the location for it.
Shopping is not the only way to attract people to our area. A music venue, or dance venue like Tanglewood, or Jacobs Pillow would be an excellent destination that would spawn a lot of other businesses as well.
Think about it. I've said this all before, and this morning I'm just replanting the seed of inspiration again.
It's spring, time for sowing, and if done right, the harvest will be phenomenal.
Thursday, April 9, 2015
|Sturbridge Town Common|
Over time, the function this common area for the towns people has shifted from agrarian, and military, the last military use of the Common was during WWII by troops stationed at the Publick House, to a central gathering place. A peaceful place for contemplation, relaxation. A spiritual place for weddings, and candlelight vigils. A social place for fairs, food festivals, and concerts.
All of these activities are not only expected, but needed. What isn't needed is the stress of such activities has on the common itself.
Recently, Tom Chamberland, the towns Tree Warden, warned that the trees on the common are being distressed to the point of their dying due to parking of vehicles on the grass. Parking on the grass compacts the soil, and the root system of the heritage, and other trees. As a result, they begin to fail, loose limbs, become weak, and eventually become a safety hazard, and must be removed.
Time to change our behavior.
It is time an ordinance is written prohibiting parking of any vehicle on the town common, and only allowing vehicle parking on the roadways that surround the common, with the exception of Main Street, Route 131. Parking for events can also be had behind the Town Hall, and, with permission, at the Publick House lots depending on the event.
This is such a simple thing to enact, and to enforce. Common sense not only validates it, but insists on it. The cost would be for signs to be erected around the commons perimeter. A fine should be imposed, and those fines would pay for the signs.
In the future, when the roads surrounding the common need to be repaved, a curbing should be part of the plan to prevent parking on the grass.
We need to act before the warm weather begins, and the use of the common goes full swing.
It's just common sense.
Monday, February 16, 2015
|The backyard in Fiskdale.|
Here I go.
What the hell is happening with our weather?!
Did I go to sleep in Fiskdale and wake up in Anchorage? No, because they've only received 20 inches of snow this winter. Is our weather permanently changing to this degree? It will be mid June before the snowbanks at Stop & Shop are gone.
I wrote on Facebook this morning that I am thankful for much in life, and when Mary told me it was -8.7 f at 6:00 this morning I added indoor plumbing to the list. I also want to add insulated gloves, and boots, ear muffs, Thinsulate ® in any garment, a car that will start on the coldest of days, ergonomically correct snow shovels, and snow blowers. Snow blowers may not top the list, but my life has been made so much easier thanks to Arthur Sicard, the snow blowers inventor.
Our driveway is not that long. Twenty feet from garage door to street, but it is double-wide, and one side runs up along the garage for another 20 feet. Still, not a massive driveway. The thing that makes our driveway a challenge is it is on Route 148, and the plow drivers take pride in keeping the road cleared from edge to edge. This means more snow berms to get through at the end of the driveway, more often. Now, the road might not be scraped to pavement like other roads in town, but it is wide. The town also doesn't like to salt the hill coming up from Route 20 causing all sorts of havoc, but the road is wide, and our snow blower lives to clear out the front of our driveway a half dozen times each storm.
|The mailbox is still standing.|
This unprecedented winters snowfall has affected all of our lives in ways we could never foresee, and it is only February 16.
We had the house insulated this past fall, and so far we have been a lot more comfortable. The other day I added some weather stripping strips along the front and side door. They are a bit snug, and it is like popping open a Tupperware lid to enter the house now. Which reminds me, I promised Mary I would adjust them so she won't have to throw her self at the door to get in the house again.
I say the last of the snow piles will be here through April. Maybe a bit longer. The next season will depend on sump pumps, and wet vacs.
Stay warm, and dry.
Wednesday, January 7, 2015
But, there were problems. One of the problems was there was not any town water or sewer in the proposed area, and that meant wells, and a vast septic system would be necessary. Seems like an obstacle worth overcoming since many places don't have town services, but apparently on this plot of land it wouldn't work, and there would be no town supplied services along Route 15.
When I drive down Route 15, and see all the vacant land, I wonder what it would look like today if the complex had gone forward. Would it be built up with complimentary businesses? Would one of the top five interstate highway junctions in New England finally be fully utilized, and how would the increased business affect our town?
That, we will never know. The project was scrapped, and Sturbridge went on living as a Massachusetts town from 1955 wishing it was still 1738. Cripes, the building of Walmart caused more people in town to have convulsions than a laser light show at a rave.
Sturbridge has a very hard time with change.
Today, there is a proposal to construct an "action sports megaplex" off Route 49 along the Charlton / Sturbridge frontier, and at this point in the approval process with the Town of Charlton, and Sturbridge, the ground is already beginning to shake.
The complex is proposed to be built in five phases. The first phase would be a campground, motocross park, and a drag strip. I think that a phrase other than "drag strip" could have been used. Drag strip conjures up all sorts of images of loud, fast cars, grease and oil, the "Pink Ladies" of "Grease", enthusiastic fans, tires burning out into clouds of blue smoke, and fried foods.
You know, a drag strip.
Ronald Charrette, a former Charlton selectman said, "
"This project affects the quality of life for the residents of Charlton and Sturbridge in equal measures," Ronald Charette said. "This racetrack, this motocross track, this drag strip that they are proposing affects all of our lives."