What the doors tell me

I am in my sixth month knocking on doors, talking with people about Attleboro’s schools, teachers, children, seniors, taxes, downtown revitalization, firefighters, public safety, our cities growth, Highland Park, and much more.
It’s a challenge to summarize several thousand conversations nut there goes. I’ll do my best to give you feedback on what I’m hearing.

1. Attleboro: Overall, most people (90%) really enjoy living in Attleboro and plan to remain here their entire life. The vast majority feel Attleboro is filled with loyal, friendly, caring people and they wouldn’t live anywhere else. However, there were certain concerns that came up at most doors…. but most folks still love Attleboro.

2. Downtown Revitalization: This is far and away the biggest concern I’ve heard at the doors. Some people dislike going downtown and feel there is nothing to do except go out to Morin’s for dinner. Most people are looking forward to taking down several buildings at the end of Union and Park. There is a general agreement that building more decent apartments near the center, adding more parking, and enticing more businesses and restaurants is a good idea. There is a consensus that this makeover will take 3-5 more years. The fishnet building/former hotel on South Main appears to be the leading building for demolition. Older folks express a desire for more parking near the senior center and an eventual need for a new building.

There is almost universal agreement that our library needs to be saved and it is an historic, beloved building. Almost everyone want to see the library fixed (roof, windows, AC and heating systems). About 25% of the public think our downtown could be cordoned off someday and become a walking area….. once we have more stores, bistros, and interesting shoppes. People want a nice downtown.

3. Schools: 90% of the doors tells me they want strong schools and no teacher layoffs. The Blue Pride spirit is strong and their children are getting a solid, good education. I heard excellent reports from parents whose children are now in college…. they felt our high school has done an excellent job of preparing them for college. But I was surprised at the number of parents who send their children to Foxboro Charter School. Almost every parent was looking forward to our new high school and expected an excellent education in the future. The best news was the positive spirit that permeates through all the schools. The only negativity I heard was lack of maintainance of the current high school, and skepticism that the new high school might not be maintained property. They want school committee and city councilors to insist on keeping schools maintained this time around. There is a consensus the class sizes are a bit high and should be reduced.

There is a sizeable minority that criticize the cost of the new high school but most of these folks still think the quality of our education is very good. Despite anxiety about rising taxes most people remain loyal to Attleboro and the need for good schools.

4. Seniors: Seniors are interested in help paying their taxes. No doubt about it. Attleboro has small ways to help them, if they can work one hour a week, they will get $600 off their taxes. Building the new high school is a great thing for our children and the city. But many seniors are worried about affording the extra bill they are paying during the remainder of their home owning life.

Seniors receive great support from our Council on Aging and the Senior Center. Lunches, socialization, exercise, advice from the COA’s two social workers and shine councilors, free help with their income taxes…. and much more. I’m constantly sharing all the benefits they will receive from participating in the senior center activities. Some enjoy it… other seniors stay at home most of the time. But most of them appreciate hearing about the COA opportunities. Seniors are definitely the most receptive people I meet at the door.

5. Firefighters: Almost everyone loves to hear about the city council’s efforts to protect our firefighters. Total support in purchasing two gear washers and a second set of gear for those who needed it. Our citizens want our firefighters protected from cancer causing elements they risk when fighting fires. They are proud and thankful for our excellent fire department. In addition, I hear no complaints about our police. Most people appreciate police patrolling their streets. I heard lots of compliments for the professionalism of our police, especially in South Attleboro near route one..

6. Highland Park: I get a lot of questions about the future of Highland Park. Only a small percentage of people seem to have visited Highland so far. It’s nice to have cross country teams (AHS and Bishop Feehan) running in the new course at Highland. It was terrific seeing the Vietnam wall last weekend. But there are questions about the future development of Highland Park. The usage of our newest park is still unknown for most people.

7. Growth: A lot of people notice increased growth, new homes, speeding and increased congestion on the roads. This is a growing concern throughout our city. Several neighborhoods (Holden St., Tiffany as examples) have begun to organize informally to seek more police patrolling their streets. Having campaigned three times in the past two years, I see an increased concern over new homes, increased traffic and speeding. For most people, this is a quality of life issue. No one is being blamed but there is a realization that Attleboro is becoming a bigger city.

These opinions belong to the people I meet at the doors. I’m simply trying to share the concerns and messages that I hear every single day.

Ty Waterman, Attleboro City Councilor At-Large

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TY’s SOFTBALL GAME REMINDER

EVERYONE

THE GAME IS SET FOR TOMORROW, SATURDAY, OCTOBER 5th, 2-5 pm.

CHILDREN AND ADULTS ALL WELCOME! TEX BARRY’s CONEY ISLAND HOT DOGS (Free). BRING YOUR FRIENDS

BRING A SOFTBALL TO TOSS AROUND IF YOU HAVE ONE

WE ARE PLAYING BEHIND THE HIGH SCHOOL AND THE CAPRON PARK ZOO. YOU CAN PARK AT CAPRON PARK AND WALK ACROSS THE OUTFIELD FROM THERE. ANY QUESTIONS: Call me at 508-577-1412.

THIS IS FOR FUN!

Ty Waterman
Attleboro City Councilor

Ty’s Travels

Hi folks: I’ve been biking around Attleboro four hours a day since May 3. Lost about 15 pounds and heading down towards my high school baseball playing weight. I’m starting to not recognize myself and certainly don’t look like the face on my palm card. I’m 71 and getting younger by the day.

I love meeting you at your door. It’s a real treat and I’m honored when you share with me. In the past two days I’ve met a youthful mother who is a consultant for social service agencies, an older woman who loves home care with other seniors, a family man who wants to move his computer repair business to Attleboro, assuming he can find a downtown location with good parking. I’ve met a woman who owns a well-known Attleboro real estate company but is frustrated by the looks of our downtown area.

I’ve met a former school principal; an elderly woman who used to own a big farm that was turned into an upscale development off Richardson Avenue. She kept telling me she was a farmer and talked about her herd of cows and their barn, none of them currently evident except in her terrific memory.

Attleboro is full of kind, interesting, family oriented people. I enjoy serving them and serving you.

Protecting Attleboro from gas leaks

To Attleboro residents:

Our City Council has been debating what to do with the finalized investigation into the Torrey Street gas leak last April. Kudos to City Councilor Ted Kobus for leading a careful, probing, and fair investigation. It resulted in a resolution that he wants to send on to the Massachusetts Dept. of Public Utilities (DPU).

It reads:

WHEREAS, on March 4, 1998, an explosion caused by a natural gas leak in the basement of a house on George Street in Attleboro killed two city workers and injured seven others; and

WHEREAS, on April 22, 2019, days before the natural gas leak was detected, the Attleboro Water Department fixed a water main break on Torrey Street; and

WHEREAS, on April 26, 2018, a car accident at 124 Emory Street helped officials detect a natural gas leak on Torrey Street resulting in three houses being evacuated; and

WHEREAS, (that same night) Columbia Gas discovered and fixed a grade one gas leak on Torrey Street which was venting natural gas from the street into the evacuated houses; and

WHEREAS, the Attleboro Municipal Council, in accordance with Section 2-11 of the Attleboro City Charter, initiated a charter investigation to identify what happened leading up to the evacuation of houses on Torrey Street on the night of April 26th to determine if there was anything the City could have done differently in order to identify the natural gas leak sooner; and

WHEREAS, the Municipal Council investigation indicated that during excavation on April 22nd, the Water Department hit a service line stub which Columbia Gas failed to mark. The incident appeared to have resulted in the natural gas leak which caused multiple homes to be evacuated on the evening of April 26, 2019, and

WHEREAS, the following risk mitigation measures were enacted by the Attleboro Water Department after the incident on Torrey Street:
1. Standard Operating Procedures updated to describe a requirement to call 911 when discovering an unmarked utility;
2. Dig-Safe training delivered by Columbia Gas;
3. New gas detection equipment purchased which will now be used on job sites; and

WHEREAS, having met the stated goals of the charter investigation, the investigation was concluded on August 22, 2019.

I am proud of the City Council and Councilor Kobus for this thorough and fair investigation. A potential disaster was resolved on April 26 by the excellent work of Attleboro’s fire and police departments, along with the work of Columbia Gas representatives at the scene of the accident.

I wish Columbia Gas would have attended the public hearing when the investigation was underway. Water Dept. Wunschel did testify and was very professional and co-operative. I believe she helped develop an improved standard operating procedure in the event of future gas leaks in Attleboro. Columbia Gas has informed the Council that there are 103 current gas leaks in Attleboro that are not dangerous at this time. There is a distinct possibility that an active gas leak could become dangerous in the future, however.

The City Council debated whether to forward our investigation to the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities. I strongly favor asking DPU to review Attleboro’s incident and the resulting investigation. I believe Rep. Jim Hawkins will assist Attleboro residents and the City Council in our effort to bring this investigation before the Department of Public Utilities.

The Council is trying our best to help protect Attleboro residents from future gas related incidents/accidents. In light of Attleboro’s past history with gas leaks and the recent Lawrence/Andover, North Andover leak….. we must push forward and bring our incident before the Department of Public Utilities. And we hopefully will have the co-operation of Columbia Gas in this effort.

The Water Department is NOT being blamed in this April 26 incident at Torrey Street. Far from it. But we must do everything we can to ensure your safety in the future.

Submitted on September 12, 2019 by Ty Waterman, City Councilor At-Large.

The Challenge of Campaigning

Friends… please allow me to share what it is like to campaign four hours a day. Six or seven days a week.

Campaigning on my bike is usually exhilarating and relaxing. I enjoy rolling up to front doors… chatting for a few minutes (sometimes longer depending on the concerns of the homeowner). Each visit can vary… talking about:

1. Attleboro schools, class sizes, need for more counselors, the gym floors that will be fixed at Hill Roberts and Hyman-Fine Elementary Schools.
2. Roads, potholes, sidewalks, a busted curb, speeding traffic, etc. This is one of the major issues that residents seem to have.
3. Rising property taxes, especially among senior citizens concerned about their economic future. I talk about senior programs, the work-off program that saves $600 a year, a break on taxes if their income is low, ideas that might help if they are unable to fully pay their quarterly taxes. Everyone is adjusting their financial plans to help pay for the new high school. I find most, but not all, agree with the need for the new high school…. but it isn’t easy to afford it. I also talk about the senior center, health insurance, help with income tax prep. Some seniors don’t know what is available for them through the senior center.
4. Neighborhood issues: run down local homes or vacant buildings that should be torn down.
5. The need for downtown Attleboro revitalization, parking, new businesses, beautification.
6. Our library needs help…. and we will be fixing the roof, windows, heating and cooling systems. The library is NOT MOVING. It is an historic, beautiful old building and I plan to help save it.
7. The need for civility in our politics. We can disagree but need to be respectful of one another. I am proud to say the City Council is a civil body of citizen legislators. We aren’t perfect but we really try to respect one another and serve our citizens.

I wish I was writing more at night about these issues… and I will try. Please understand that campaigning is ultimately tiring…. after 4-5 hours knocking on doors my body and mind begin to shut down. When I notice my mind cloud over…. it’s time to call it a day. Jan (my lovely wife) eventually calls my cell to tell me what we’re having for dinner and asks if I had a good day.

I remember hearing about a congressman who always came home for dinner. That was his most important goal of the day. Same with me. I join Jan and my dog (Chloey) around 6 pm, hug Jan and pat our pooch…. and unwind. I fall asleep in front of the TV by 8 or 9 pm…. wake up at midnite and head off to bed. Get a blessed sleep. Arise around 8:30 am and get ready for another day on the Trail. My goal is to reach all 16,000 potential voters…. (not everyone seems to vote). I won’t reach that goal… but I can dream… I can try.

On rainy days or when putting up signs, John Corrigan joins me on the Trail. Some of you might have met John, a true friend. On those days I actually drive up to homes…. which allows my body to recover and get ready to hop on my bike again.

I love campaigning…. but forgive me if I get tired after 4-5. I’ve lost ten pounds and am in better shape. But I do need my rest at some point.

Please call me at 508-577-1412 if I haven’t knocked on your door yet….. I’d love to meet you and listen to your thoughts.