'Citizens Concerned About Tracks'
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‘Citizens Concerned About Tracks’ was organized in October of 1995 after representatives from the MBTA came to our area and announced plans to run commuter trains from New Bedford and Fall River to Boston on a route through Taunton, Norton, Attleboro and Mansfield. The proposed ‘Attleboro Alternative’ would also impact the towns of Foxboro and Sharon, adding increased train traffic to their already over crowded track.

During a public meeting at Norton High School in 1995, CCATS gathered the names of 125 area household members who opposed the MBTA Plan to send the trains along this most circuitous route. We were not looking for signatures on a petition, just a list of our supporters.

CCATS emphasized there was no cost to join, financial or otherwise. Our members were not asked to volunteer any more time than they felt comfortable giving (which varied with individuals, their calendars and commitments). We pledged not to bother folks with phone calls, except those who asked to be contacted.

By networking personally through neighborhood contacts, the distribution and mailing of flyers, a few briefings at the Norton Public Library, and media attention, we were successful in bringing together a regional coalition of individuals, who shared the same interests and goals, and were able to speak with one voice on this critical issue.

CCATS members studied the ‘Environmental Notification Form’ (ENF) dated September 1995 and began critiquing it. The filing known as the ENF was a three volume document prepared by the project proponent (MBTA), as required under the State’s Environmental Review Process (MEPA), to explain the project’s purpose, design and impacts. Additionally, we sought support from all of our elected officials, lobbied the Massachusetts Legislature, and invited the Joint Transportation Committee for a public meeting in Attleboro and a tour of the proposed route. (In 1995 the New Bedford/Fall River Rail Project was to be state funded and was dependent on the State Legislature’s Transportation Bond Bill).

In an effort to raise public awareness and gain attention, CCATS ordered professional signs with ‘Citizens Concerned About Tracks’ printed on one side and ‘MBTA Go The Other Way’ on the reverse. The signs were posted in supporter’s yards throughout the four communities. It was very much an old fashioned grass roots campaign, which suited Heather Graf, founder of CCATS.

The battle dragged on for five years, with small but significant gains occurring along the way. Until eventually in the year 2000, even the proponents of the New Bedford/Fall River Rail Project (including the MBTA, the Massachusetts House and Senate, the Southeastern Planning and Economic Development District Organization, and Secretary of Environmental Affairs Robert Durand) recognized that the ‘Attleboro Alternative’ was not the way to go, and acknowledged the route should be eliminated from further consideration.

Now, in 2007, the CCATS coalition is back by necessity. As Governor Deval Patrick is honoring his campaign promise to bring commuter rail service to New Bedford and Fall River and has directed that all the alternatives be reexamined with an unbiased eye. This puts the Attleboro Route back on the table. And finds ‘Citizens Concerned About Tracks’ Coordinator Heather Graf of Norton (who admits to being technically reclined) submitting text for a Web Site. With the help of Michael Edgar of Attleboro - CCATS Internet Contact, it is hoped that this new avenue of communication will be an asset to our campaign.

We look forward to working with our fellow citizens, elected and appointed officials, Conservation Agents, also the Norton Land Preservation Society, both the Attleboro & Mansfield Land Trusts and others.

CCATS welcomes individuals who share our concerns and convictions, vision and commitment, all those who wish to be part of a coalition of informed and vocal citizens which will stand united in opposition to the ill-fated ‘Attleboro Alternative’ for South Coast Rail.

It is said “History Has a Way of Repeating Itself” and ‘Citizens Concerned About Tracks’ intends to see that the outcome of this campaign is the same as in the year 2000. Our motto remains as it was more than a decade ago: ‘MBTA - Go The Other Way’.

The one major difference this time around, we intend to make sure the decision is final.