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

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Here We Go Again

A few years ago there was a proposal for a sports complex on Old Route 15, Haynes Street.  The complex would have playing fields, a covered sports field, a canoe launch along the river, and facilities to support the complex.

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."

The idea of a racing venue involving internal combustion engines near ones home can fluster the heck out of some folks, and may  just be enough to get the citizens all riled up with their pitchforks, and torches at a Planning Board meeting.

This "megaplex" is five phases, and the racing is only the first phase.  In Phase two they propose football, and soccer fields.  Phase three would be an equestrian arena, athletic and baseball fields.  Phase four is planned to be a water/extreme sports park , and amphitheater, and finally, in Phase five, there will be places to feed, and lodge, all those people playing outside.

Can't wait for the anti-horse, and water park demonstrators to show up.

In the meantime, the ice skating rink on the town common is now open.


  1. It seems to me the proposed development in Charlton is just what is needed to draw people to the area. Unfortunately for Sturbridge, it will draw people to Charlton. For all the talk about making Sturbridge a "destination" there's been very little action. Let's create an attractive appearance so that when people drive through (on their way to Charlton) Sturbridge will be a pleasing sight in their rear view mirrors. Perhaps Save our Sturbridge could be revived for the purpose of buying up all the vacant properties in town in order to preserve our "quaint" community. Quaint is a real people magnet, right? Can't you just see thousands of people wandering through the woods of Sturbridge? Maybe...(before they head over to Charlton). Perhaps we would no longer have to be subjected to the incessant demand for more (unnecessary) athletic fields. A real money maker, right? Our local boards and authorities certainly should "keep an eye on " the project in Charlton. It should be a jealous eye because enterprising people in the next town over actually have a plan that will make them a destination.

  2. If the noise is not that big of a factor there are not many negatives about this project. The area is lacking in things for younger people to do, at least i have heard that many times. If it draws people to Charlton it will have a positive impact on the businesses in our town. Ball fields that someone else wants to pay for, cant beat that. Water park and amphitheater, sounds good to me. A local concert venue is something i have always wanted to see. Every time i go to a concert i go out to a local restaurant. Our town is not a destination, this place has the potential to be one. We will reap a lot of benefits of it without most of the cost associated with it. When i drive to Clem's i wonder why that area has not been developed at all. While i enjoy the "ruralness" of area that seems like a good place for some development. I hope the project gets to move forward with the appropriate scrutiny from Charlton.

  3. I have not heard much more about this. I figured it would be all over the T&G.

  4. I have a feeling this is never going to happen. Too bad in my opinion. If i was to live close to it i would have a different opinion i am sure. NIMBY, yup, guilty as charged. Still think it would be good for the area.


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