This has not been a great week for public improvement projects in the Attleboro area.
If you were planning to, say, park your car in Attleboro’s downtown parking garage, perhaps take an Uber up Route 123 to Norton for a refreshing drink of crystal clear tap water and then — well, sometime this fall — enjoy Red Rocketeer football at the North Attleboro High School’s brand new all-weather artificial turf field, well, we have some bad news for you.
First, the sorely needed renovations to the parking garage off Sanford Street, which were supposed to be completed by this month, are going to be delayed by at least a few weeks.
Echoing the lament of practically every homeowner who ever started a DYI effort, the city’s director of budget and administration, Barry LaCasse, said in a press release, “As with most renovation and rehabilitation projects, once you start demolition you tend to encounter some additional, unexpected repair work.”
Areas that were thought to require only minor repairs, LaCasse explained, will instead need major work and that will extend the schedule for the project. (The upside, and there is one, is that bids on the half-million dollar project came in low, so the additional repairs, and some extra work, won’t add substantially to the city’s cost.)
In Norton, the town’s citizens have been complaining for years about discolored tap water from the public supply. They were promised that a new, $11 million treatment plant that was scheduled to open this fall would address those issues. Instead, it will be delayed, most likely until early next year. The plant has seen several delays and cost increases.
As a stopgap measure, the town installed a free water dispenser outside town hall for those citizens who want clean drinking water by the glass — or jug.
Now officials note that town wells will have to be taken out of service and cleaned before the plant can come on line and late summer is a bad time to do this. (If there is a silver lining here, it’s that a public hearing is scheduled for Aug. 27 on new water rates which will help pay for the plant, so citizens will have plenty of opportunity to vent their frustration.)
Finally, there are few towns in our area that take greater pride in their high school football teams than North Attleboro or where the games draw bigger crowds.
Last year, the town put the finishing touches on a new $1.2 million artificial turf field at the high school as a fitting home for the Red Rocketeer gridiron teams and dedicated it to beloved former football coach Ray Beaupre Jr.
Now there’s nothing wrong with the field — the players loved it for the one season they got to use it — it’s the stands. Town officials, before last year’s high school graduation ceremony, determined the bleachers to be unsafe and moved commencement. Now the football team will have to follow. The Rocketeers will be playing this season at their old home stadium at Community Field.
School and town officials say they are still trying to figure out if it will be fiscally feasible to repair the old bleachers or buy new ones. But it would seem to be a shame to us that Beaupre Field would be relegated to the junior varsity. (The upside is that North Attleboro’s football fans will, we are sure, follow the team where ever it goes.)
We don’t mean to simply bash public officials here. Things come up unexpectedly and no one can plan for every eventuality. But it doesn’t mean some foresight isn’t needed.
Perhaps this could be a teachable moment about making too many rosy predictions about when projects will be completed or touting the wonderful future they might herald. And keeping the public informed — as area officials have tried to do — is a good start.
We also think the public should have some patience when it comes to these projects. Rome — or a garage or water plant or football stadium — was not built in a day.
But patience has its limits.