Friday, January 30, 2015

246/54, Downtown, Patriots,Olympics

The 246/54 represents the results of the recent national election. That is the Republican representation in Congress and the ultimate legacy of Obama. How much the shine of 2008 has eroded?
The Republicans actually played it smart – a political rarity for them. The focus was on running against a president that many now had firmed doubts about – very similar to 1980 when Carter was defeated by Reagan. You look at the blue states – and that is solid blue – and that is where Obama was welcomed. The rest? Forget it.
The Republicans made a concerted effort to avoid the usual bait and fall into the trap on social issues. Where that may resonate as a positive they certainly spoke out but other places? Nope. Avoid at all costs.
Even more surprising was the gains in state offices. I thought the Republicans would actually lose a few governorships and they actually gained, including here in the “People’s Republic.” Baker won by 2% and that is a virtual landslide considering the composition of the state.
So let the whining begin.
Already it has become a mirror of Republican angst after 2008. The passel of excuses and finger pointing. Seems like every other article has Koch Brothers in it. Simple fact is the folks got tired of all talk and no substance from the oval office. Toss in Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and no more calls, folks, we have a winner!
But never count the Republicans out in the stupidity race as Mitt Romney is attempting another try. And don't forget Sarah Palin!
I grew up in Whitman. Whitman is far smaller to Middleboro in size and population yet there is a noticeable difference – the downtown areas.
On a recent visit after many years of exile I drove through the downtown section and notice variety of business establishments, few empty store fronts, some old restaurants and some new ones, plenty of parking, some nice apartments and even Duval’s Pharmacy still appears to be in business.
Whitman also has a second section that is on picturesque South Avenue with the main focus being in the area of the train station. South Avenue from the center of town to the train station has several businesses and private residences in this one kilometer stretch. In fact the whole town seems as vibrant as I remember it from my youth.
On the way back home I took a quick drive through downtown East Bridgewater. Seems they also have some healthy activity for such a small community. Very few empty store fronts.
But what about Middleboro?
Robert Nunes, our Town Manager (I’ll drop the “new”), has made one of his priorities addressing the very issue of our downtown business – or is it lack of business, area. The ideas sound like an excellent starting point and just maybe they will eventually be fruitful.
Most of the downtown area just appears seedy. An eclectic collection of store fronts from the 1970s, older buildings in need of some touch-up and some that seriously need to meet Mr. Demolition. Smoothing out the process for opening up a business is one part of the puzzle with the other part being placing it in something I would wish to walk into without taking shots and wearing a dust mask.
The addition of a college has not yet shown tangible results. I doubt Highpoint will add much to the esthetics. The only real positive I have seen is the theater and a few others that have managed to prosper. Now in the center you will have two empty store fronts to greet folks. How soon before Rockland Trust packs it in?
Selectman...or is it woman....or maybe person?. Anyways, she,meaning Leilani Daple, has done a commendable job seeking out ways of mitigating the situation. Maybe...just maybe...eventually it will be two steps forward and one back. When I first moved to Middleboro in 1973 the downtown was actually a nice place to shop. Maybe that can return?
Along the lines of downtown comes the Planning Board. A developer is suddenly in snit city after repeated issues with the board and has gone DFCON to the TM and BOS. This will be interesting as it, no doubt, will develop into a he said/she said situation.
The Patriots have once again displayed the ability to work outside the rule book. Belichick or Brady? Probably both. And add to it Bob Kraft. Kraft is a saint in these parts despite playing off Providence against Hartford to get a stadium.
Congratulations to Boston for the ultimate bad idea – attempting to get the Olympics. Fact is the taxpayers will eventually have to be responsible for billions and add to this the development of another quasi agency to mismanage this mess.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Open up Great Neck Island

I hate it when I have to agree with Bumpkin.
A recent Bumpkin column, a rather innocuous one, focused one the various trails in the Assawompset Pond Complex or APC. Of special note was the causeway that leads to Great Neck Island the sits in the middle of Great Quittacas Pond. The usage of the area elicited a response from former Lakeville Selectwoman, Nancy Yeatts, who is now guardian of the APC.
Seems that 500 acres, including Great Neck Island, is off limits to “protect the infrastructure of the water suppliers.” I could find no infrastructure on my many visits to Great Neck Island. There is a brick pumping station off of Route 105 that I could certainly dismantle with a sledge hammer and a 300 year life expectancy – get real, Ms. Yeatts! Ms. Yeatts further stated that public use can “be discontinued for deliberate of perceived threats to the water supply.” I have now been classified as “A perceived threat.”
I called Ms. Yeatts and mentioned the simple fact that one of the most scenic areas in the region is off limits. Like Bumpkin I will continue to occasionally use the area and take my chances. I would encourage others to do likewise. Join with me in the world of “perceived threats,” which is how this aged trail runner is now classified for the audacity to simply tell Ms. Yeatts I will continue to ignore her mandate. Chalk it up to my anti-authoritarian stance regarding public (note – public) land. I really get a burr in my bonnet with having access denied to those that foot the bill.
The island access is rather simple and would require very little in the way of adding some additional from the "Forbidden Zone." About 200M from the acceptable boundry would do it. All the way is already a rather spacious road. That would be it. A walk across the causeway and to the two trails on the island. Do it!
This may have made sense – even remotely – back in 2002 when the plan was initiated. But today? Does anyone actually realize how many access points to that area exist? Long Pond Road and Route 105 run up against the pond. What escapes Ms. Yeatts is the simple fact is the more use results in more observance. But to those with an entrenched and back thinking mindset this area is no doubt high on the target profile list of our assorted enemies. I do believe I saw Putin riding bareback on the causeway.
The APC is under used and especially in the area in question. A real sore sight is taking the access road that is on Route 105 and going into an area known as “The Sludge Pit.” This area has for the last several years been used as a dumping ground for vegetative waste material and some type of digging operation. The least that the APC can do is invest in a wood chipper. You really want a mess? Wander in back of that archaic pumping station off Rote 105 and follow the muddy brick road to their personalized dumping area. A lot more than just “vegetation.”
From the sludge area you can follow a road on acceptable and approved areas and witness the logging version of strip mining. For the last few years logging and heavy equipment have been in the process of doing who knows what. I imagine there is “A plan” for exactly what this encompasses, but it does seems like excessive disturbance to the area.
What makes me really wonder is Ms. Yeatts has an extensive resume in land preservation and use - especially in Betty's Neck. Why close off an area?
So I have done the usual route and written a letter to The Gazette, notified our legislators and hope that somewhere a light will go on in the forces that be regarding the APC and actually view Great Neck Island as a PUBLIC resource to be used, enjoyed and managed by all.
All across the country areas are being opened up and among them are areas that are classified as water resources – usually public drinking water – and they are open. I could make a nice list that would take up another server somewhere in cyber space – I have been to many of them where management is actually proactive.
This is now an addition to the above. Went to the area today (01/01/15) and entered via one of the gates on North Avenue. If you follow that access road you will come upon a main trail. There is even a map placed there as part of a scout project. Turn left and you are in the restricted area. How do you know that? You don't. There is no signage. None. You can wander around and see nothing. No signs. One would expect that the APC authorities have the fiscal resources to purchase signs and place them in the area. There is also fantastic potential for three scenic overlooks and one would be the island. It would take minimal amount of effort and I would gladly show the trails that need to be marked and improved.