Monday, December 10, 2012

Collective Onanism?

As those who read The O’Zone are aware, I am not a fan of Master Plans.

To my mind they are nothing more than what the character Alvy Singer in the movie Annie Hall referred to as “mental masturbation.”

This was brought to mind again today by a letter in the Southbridge Evening News titled “Add your voice to Southbridge’s future plans.” It was signed by “SOUTHBRIDGE MASTER PLAN STEERING AND SUBCOMMITTEES AND THE FRIENDS OF THE MASTER PLAN VOLUNTEERS. 

In the letter the subcommittees and friends urged citizens to participate in a public session at town hall on Wednesday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m. Among the enticements offered for this investment of time are:
• Free pizza for all;
• Raffle of $25 gift certificates;
• Free childcare;
• Spanish language interpreters; and
• Transportation upon request.

The body of the letter contained two sets of issues, “burning questions” and “creative solutions”, that serve to demonstrate the perspicacious, incisive insight and pragmatic, reality-based, thinking at work in this process.

1. How can we attract new businesses to town and create new jobs?
2. How can we improve the school district’s reputation?
3. How can Southbridge best leverage its ethnic diversity in positive and mutually beneficial
4. What can we do to make Southbridge a healthier and safer place to live?

1. Attract outlet stores to our downtown
2. Create an education center for teacher training, help with homework, adult ed and lifelong
3. Create a unique festival that capitalizes on multi-cultural heritage
4. Develop a tournament quality multi-sports complex         
5. Develop an agriculture & equestrian center
6. Expand on Class 4 rapids whitewater rafting potential

I would like to hear your thoughts on this matter, regardless of my own skepticism.

Is this a worthwhile use for $110,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds?

If so, what would you add to either the list of “burning questions” or “creative solutions?”


  1. Your title is quite apropos. It seems that every four or five years we go through one of these tax financed community circle jerks meant to justify the continued existence of an Economic Development and Planning Dept. that has accomplished no economic development during the current Director’s decade long tenure.

  2. Has anybody ever even looked at these things after they were finished?

  3. What is going on with all this CDBG money going to this, church groups and social clubs? The town is crumbling around us and were using this money for this!

  4. This could be useful if attention was focused on one or two critical goals (for exaple attracting employers for limited skill employees) and then developing and following a concrete set of action plans. But this all inclusive, the sky is the limit day dreaming is a waste of time and money.

  5. Can we get Mitt to bring Rafalca to the opening of our equestrian center?


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