By Thomas Grillo, Globe Correspondent, 6/7/2003

UXBRIDGE-- It's been 20 years since the last swatch of worsted wool for Hickey-Freeman and other fine men's suits was made at the now shuttered Calumet Mill. Blackstone Valley restaurants don't stay open 24 hours a day anymore to feed three shifts of factory workers. And five years after a Massachusetts Turnpike interchange opened nearby, on the Worcester-Millbury line, creating more opportunities for development, Uxbridge officials have been unable to transform the former mill town.

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Yet Uxbridge has attracted young families seeking a quiet, country lifestyle within commuting distance of Boston. Tension has erupted, though, between newcomers and longtime residents over a plan for a $34 million high school. Some say the project is too expensive and should be scaled back. Voters will decide June 30.

Longtime and newer residents agree Uxbridge has lots to offer, though. In summer, the Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park, which meanders through seven towns, offers hiking and mountain bike trials. In winter, the park is a haven for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. There's canoeing and fishing on the canal, but pollution makes the fish unfit to eat.

Arrowhead Acres on Aldrich Street features a petting farm, hayrides, and a 73-acre Christmas tree farm. For bird watchers, Rice City Pond provides opportunities to see blue herons, ospreys, wood and black ducks, songbirds, and bluebirds. Pout Pond has a beach and picnic tables.

This week, the MLS Property Information Network listed 75 single-family homes, with 26 of them priced at less than $300,000. New construction is available in the $400,000 range, including a four-bedroom Colonial on nearly five acres on Kasey Court.

Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@hotmail.com.

This story ran in the Boston Globe on 6/07/2003.
© Copyright 2003 New York Times Company
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