[One result of Massachusetts' new expanded-gaming law in 2011 and 2012 was the interest shown by a casino developer in a parcel located not far from the southwest border of my town of Holliston (and not far from my house), in the town of Milford. The way the law is written, neighboring towns have no say in whether a casino ought to be built nearby, despite the fact that casinos have considerable regional impact. However, it can be hard to get the community riled up. In this satire, I imagined Holliston becoming hemmed in by all sorts of commercial development, yet still unable to hit the "angry" button.]
officials are set to unveil ambitious plans for a mammoth array of auto
dealerships along Route 85 to be known as "Hop City." The project, to
be developed by a consortium of business interests, will be situated on
the town's south side, near the College Street intersection, adjacent to
the Holliston border.
than worry night and day about future business development, we decided
to take control," says planner Fred Fleaman. "It's going to mean jobs,
that's the main thing. Construction jobs first, then jobs in sales and
service. Maybe not the best-paying jobs ever, but you've got to start
somewhere. And then you've got to finish up somewhere else. Anyway,
we're going to need colorful balloons on an ongoing basis, and signs and
streamers, and there'll be lots of work for cleaning crews, too."
whether Holliston officials have commented on the proposal, Fleaman
states, "The way the law reads, this is our deal. We don't have to get
permission from another town to go forward with it. We need the tax
revenue, and if there's issues about traffic or whatever, they'll just
have to deal with it."
So far, reaction in Holliston has been
muted, and opposition has been tepid. One official said that the best
option was to "wait and see; there's not a lot we can do right now." A
spokesman allowed that the auto mega-mall "could be a plus. Our people
need jobs, too. What we don't need is a lot of ugly protests about this –
that would be bad for the town's image. People looking to establish
businesses here, what are they going to think?"
news, Medway officials plan to announce that a "huge" deposit of copper
ore has recently been discovered during test drilling some 150-300 feet
below grade, on the town's north side where it borders Holliston. Town
planners say that the mine will be of the open-pit variety. It is
expected to grow in width and depth as ore is extracted and more of the
"substrate" is exposed. It will be called, simply, "The Pits."
authorities are excited about having a big mining operation in town,
where commercial growth has lately been sluggish. "It's going to mean
jobs, that's the main thing," says planner Phil Flatley. "Yes, I know
it's right next to Holliston. We're very aware of that. We're also very
aware that the project is 100% on Medway land, and really, Holliston
hasn't got a leg to stand on."
Flatley dismisses questions
about what will happen when the mine grows big enough to swallow up the
schools and other town structures it is helping to support. "People
sometimes take an anti-business attitude," he argues. "That's the real
problem here. People get comfortable having clean air and clean water
and not very much big industry around, and they just dig their heels in
and want things to stay that way forever. It's unrealistic! Change is
inevitable," he declares. "That's how the pyramids got built, and the
Great Wall of China, and the Panama Canal, too. Think anybody pulled a
permit for that?"
Under a unique arrangement with mine owners,
Medway will offer special after-school hours at The Pits to kids who
want to get a taste of what real work is like, and earn some spending
cash too – though, of course, underage mine workers won't be eligible
for collective bargaining.
So far, reaction in Holliston has
been muted, and opposition has been tepid. "It might not be a bad
thing," suggested one official, "though we'll have to wait and see what
the plans are, in the event that anybody shows them to us. It's true
that the area is perceived as less than business-friendly, and this will
go a long way towards countering that perception."
Sherborn officials, as hungry for new sources of funds as anybody, are ready
to kick off a major undertaking that will completely transform the
western end of town, near the border with Holliston. To be known as the
Shire Raceway, or simply, "The Shire," the sprawling development will
feature a premier stock car racetrack the likes of Watkins Glen, with
year-round auto racing plus several hotels, along with entertainment and
Brushing aside questions about the proper
role of government, planner Fiona Farquhar says that Sherborn won't be
linked by name with the new racetrack. "It's just the place where the
track will be located, generating revenue for us," she says, "and jobs,
of course." Farquhar understands that Holliston residents might not like
a noisy racetrack on their border, and won't get any of the anticipated
revenue, but, she says, "that's just too bad for them."
addition, influential Sherborn authorities have persuaded the state to
block Route 16 where it currently heads westward from Sherborn center,
"eliminating quite a dangerous intersection," notes Farquhar. Sherborn
would prefer that traffic flow to The Shire by other routes, so the town
will also influence the state to widen (Farquhar: "to grow") Route 16
from two to eight lanes from new ramps at Route 495 all the way up
through Holliston to the Sherborn line. "Racing fans from the north,
west, and south need easy access," Farquhar asserts, "and what could be
easier? Plus, we'd like to siphon off some of that casino traffic for
So far, reaction in Holliston has been muted, and
opposition has been tepid. "It could be a plus," offered one resident,
referring to the impending obliteration of the historic downtown.
"Things have to change. It's going to mean jobs. You gotta break some
eggs. Doesn't everybody know that?"