Recently, while reading the evening news, and particularly the letters to the editor, my impulse is to respond, as I can no longer stifle that "inner voice." One question read was "Do we want to continue the path we are on, or do we want change?" My level-headed answer is: What will change look like? Why was it necessary in the first place? How can we trust people who cannot get their facts straight? One article said not one of the towns, (our neighbors) Sturbridge and Charlton are economically depressed, and are, flourishing. It said "we were known as the Tri-Community." We are still known as a Tri-Community, and still have, as far as I know, a Tri-Community Chamber of Commerce. (Was this person implying that because we changed our type of government, (and they didn't) we made a mistake, and not to correct it, by going back, means to fail? That we are not flourishing?) Just look at what we do have and at all our accomplishments....Its time people see what a great town Southbridge is.
The editorial was entitled, "No 'red flags' over petition, just red, white and blue." In this article the writer implies that we as a voting town were never told "that we would become a city" and that we were upset. "Bull"! Where does he get the right to suggest how we feel? We became a city out of need, due to our growth, and, we are recognized by The Massachusetts Secretary of State's Office as a "legal city". Simply, have we "out grown" our Town Meeting type of government? We are known as "the city known as the Town of..." getting it's label from population, according to the taking of census. Our population is 16,719 as recorded in 2012. We are by all account a "small city". (No town with a population of less than 12,000 may adopt a "city" form of government).
There are no flawed observations here, just facts. We are unique, not to be compared to our neighbors. The town of Sturbridge, for an example will decide on the fate of their budget on June 2, of $28.7M, "Southbridge Evening News", --having an open town meeting form of government, Town Administrator, and five selectmen. Here's the difference they couldn't become a city if they wanted to, with a population of just over 2 thousand people. Charlton, with the same structure, will be looking at a budge of $23.7M according to "Telegram.com" Sun., May 18, 2014. The census placing their population several years back at 12,981. Could they become the next to adopt a "city form of government"? In my mind, they are notably in a progressive state, have and are making plans for expansion. Another term for our ailment is called "growing pains". Call it what you will, but how can you go back. We move forward, not backward or suffer consequences. We are obligated to each other. We must work for what is best for our town and not be swept away with the current, only to drown, from having lost control, by falling prey to a petition that would return us to the past, which we realized no longer worked for us and was remedied in 1974, according to the Massachusetts Municipal Government Directory. We have a legislative body which consists of a town council of nine and a town manager. We get what we vote in.
Differences that can be seen from the data available, is the financial status of the three towns. We have the largest unemployment rate of approximately 9.9, while our median resident age is comparable, 35-41. Household income here is around $50,000 a yr. while Charlton is about $80,000 a yr. An estimated condo or house in the year, 2011 was valued at $300,489. in Sturbridge, while Charlton's homes were valued at $275,460 in 2012. The median Home Value in Southbridge is $155,200. We still have many three-deckers in this town, while the other two towns do not have many, if any. Our downtowns have no similarity. We have a hospital, full-time fire, ambulance and police departments. YMCA, trash curbside pickup and recreation, a new school and much more. We have, and supply our own Water system. That is Big, people...And, an airport!
While it was suggested that we are Tri-Community, we are, and have been in fact, very unique and different from our neighbors. Like, apple and oranges. It is what it is. Don't kid yourself, our neighbors have relied heavily on us because of our RESOURCES.
The situation we are in has little to do with anything but the fact that we need a tax-base adjustment, meaning more revenue. The money to function (pay the bills) must come from other than its residents alone. Our councilors pay the bills too, need anyone forget that. We need to establish new business. What can we do to bring in new enterprises, stores, restaurants, hotels, industry? Until that happens, we are going to just "pay the bills", like it or not. We have Potential....lots of it. Lets get that message out there.....
We have elected people to answer to us the voters, and we have a format to ask them the questions. These are the facts as presented. We do not need the proposed change of government some are seeking. Growing populations demands more services and result in increased costs. We live in an area in which the cost is 9.30% higher than U.S. average. Labor market suggests we are over and above the 6 per cent unemployment figure. All that adds up to hardship, sadly and unfortunately. Let's begin by being a good neighbor.
The petition is NOT the win-all that some claim it to be. Frankly, when someone says in an editorial that "I" have answered some of his questions", I say to myself who is this person and what authority has he imposed on himself? Does he represent "The O'Zone" pictured hand with six fingers that shows to many of us, what does not add up? This is more than flimsy, and sloppy. It again proves which direction we are to follow, not a backward approach. It is not realistic..it will not make it go away nor is it for betterment.
Take a good look at our beautiful Southbridge. The only real problem here, is attitude. We should adopt a new slogan and attitude at the same time. We were always looked well upon. The "All America City"...Stand up for what is good. That is: "Learn to see" what is in front of you. Aren't we known as the "Eye of the Commonwealth"? No reason to be blind sighted here now. No, not in our Southbridge.
Almost A Minyan
2 months ago