Putting the “T” back into the City’s TOD is critical to downtown success

Putting the “T” back into the City’s TOD is critical to downtown success

September 2019

Attleboro is fortunate to have a designated area in the downtown that is zoned for Transit Oriented Development (TOD). I was proud to be part of the Council in November, 2015, when we amended the City Ordinance creating the TOD

(https://www.cityofattleboro.us/DocumentCenter/View/1044/Transit-Oriented-Development-Zoning-District-Ordinance-PDF) .

Some of the advantages of a TOD include urban revitalization, local economic stimulus, carbon footprint reduction and improvements to quality of life by allowing residents to live, work and play in the same area. These have all been a cornerstone of my campaign for Mayor and will continue to be a priority of my administration. I have attached a link to provide more information on how a TOD is beneficial. http://www.tod.org/ .

The two main elements to a TOD are obviously Transit and Development. Paramount to both of these and the driving force behind them, is the COMMUTER. To have a successful TOD, it needs to be a desirable place for commuters to live. By simply focusing solely on the existing transit and  development options without considering a comprehensive strategy to improve all modes of transit in this area throughout our region, we run the risk of neglecting the people who rely on these services and ultimately make family and lifestyle choices based transportation.  I have spoken frequently about the relationships I have established with several developers that are ready to work with my administration and transform our downtown into a vibrant and bustling center of commerce that attracts commuters from both Boston and Providence.

The state line that separates our neighboring community of Pawtucket must become blended. We need to bring a new meaning to our status as a gateway city in such that we open the gates to Rhode Island and facilitate ease of access through public transportation between our great City and our neighboring  cities. 

We need to start this conversation now. The Governor of Rhode Island has announced plans for implementation of high-speed train service to Boston (https://boston.cbslocal.com/2019/08/28/boston-providence-mbta-commuter-rail-plan/ ). Unless Attleboro is included in these discussions, it will absolutely have a negative impact on our Attleboro Commuters, as if things were not challenging enough. 

Some in Rhode Island have even discussed proposals for expanded rail service in their state (https://www.abc6.com/story/40449182/new-private-commuter-train-service-would-link-providence-woonsocket-worcester-and-more ).  We need to inspire and work with our local leaders in Massachusetts, as well as the Mayors of Pawtucket and Providence to develop an effective plan that includes Attleboro and benefits our mutual commuters. Collectively, we will be able to advocate for our Plan with the Governor’s office in Massachusetts and the Governor’s Office in Rhode Island. Attleboro should be actively engaged in these efforts to ensure that we are a priority of each state’s transit plans. We need to highlight the fact that Attleboro is quickly becoming a destination for people to work, live and play.

We are fortunate that the City has the existing infrastructure with a four- rail section at the Attleboro MBTA Station stop.  This can be an important logistical component in having trains stop at the station without tying up other train traffic on the main rail corridor.  Utilizing our existing infrastructure, Attleboro should be included in any transit improvements to this corridor, including Rhode Island’s proposal for high-speed service to Boston and any rail transit expansion in Rhode Island.   Capitalizing on increased transit opportunities provides more choices for people, making the Attleboro TOD a more attractive option.  

The MBTA, GATRA and RIPTA are all critical and key components to ensuring success of an economic revival here in Attleboro.   Expanding transit service to neighboring communities will be a priority of my administration.   I have spoken many times about how Attleboro is in a prime location to be a perfect blending of cultures from Boston and Providence. However, if we do not foster the proper relationships with public transportation providers, we will not achieve our goals. 

It all starts with being the bridge between Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Blending the two states here in Attleboro, becoming the destination. Fostering a relationship with our Governor and state delegation will make sure that we are not just a whistle stop on the way to Boston and Providence, rather we are the point of the spear, the hub, the shining jewel of Southeastern Massachusetts once again.

Thoughts from my kitchen table #2

Thoughts from my kitchen table #2

Ahhh.. a moment to sit and reflect. Priceless.

Labor Day has come and gone, and similar to many families in our city the Porrecas are in full swing with back to school, work, farmers market, council and yes, the Campaign. 

Team Porreca has been out and about visiting with residents and dropping signs. I’ve been door knocking everyday and am pleased to report that not one resident has turned their sprinklers on or slammed a door in my face. See… nice really does matter. (I knew you had it in ya Attleboro, contrary to what social media would have you believe)

Knocking on doors can be intimidating. I was raised to respect boundaries and personal space. This deeply ingrained policy proves to be a challenge while out on the campaign trail.

Do you go to the front door? The side door? Will you be disrupting nap time for the baby and maybe mom as well? Is the family having a late lunch/early dinner that you will be interrupting? Is it cleaning day, and the homeowner is in scrubs covered in bleach and vinegar trying to get their bathroom to shine? Will the dog bark and get all excited disrupting the whole house? Does the gentleman mowing his lawn really want to stop what he’s doing to have a chat about the future of Attleboro? In a similar circumstance out on Slater Street it was a mom of 3,and she had a really nice lines on her lawn. Props to you!!! 

This past Saturday, my daughter Maggie was my canvassing sidekick. This girl is something else! She constantly and consistently keeps me motivated and positive. When I was expressing my discomfort of encroaching on people’s personal space, she said, “Ma, just think of it as Trick or Treating.”

She stopped me cold. She was right.

Now it’s been roughly 40 years since I’ve been trick or treating for myself and about 7 since my kids were active trick or treaters. This is my take on what Maggie describes as “campaign trick or treating”

The treat is that I get to introduce myself to people and share why I am running for Mayor. The trick, that turns into a treat, is to make that personal connection and secure their vote. I strive to have meaningful conversations so that both parties feel that they have learned something, I don’t go out there simply to gain sign placement.  Signs don”t vote. People do.

If I haven’t made it to you house yet I am doing my very best to get there. I am enormously grateful to my family for their continued support and for picking up the slack at home so I can be out there spreading our family motto:  #nicematters.

Thoughts from my kitchen table

Thoughts from my kitchen table

August 28, 2019

It is stated that,

Education is knowledge acquired in formal learning environments. Intelligence is that actual ability to learn, to acquire, assimilate, and use new knowledge.

There has been discussion and speculation regarding my educational background. Now seems like a good time to put those misconceptions to rest.

But first, I would like to state that my opponent’s education credentials are quite extraordinary and should be celebrated.  Education is a cornerstone of our country and should never be diminished.

Personally, I am a proud graduate of Norwood High School Class of 1989. (I will be attending my 30th HS reunion in October!)

I earned an Associate’s Degree from Massachusetts Bay Community College in Business Management with a minor in Retail. Additionally, I have taken several courses on my way to a Bachelor’s Degree.

I have had the honor to be elected and serve on the Attleboro Municipal Council for the past 3 terms. I feel it is reasonable to equate the last six years of hard work, dedication and time to a master’s degree in Municipal Government. The vast institutional knowledge and willingness to share has helped educate me so I understand the inner workings of the City of Attleboro.

In addition to my formal and informal education, I was a school bus driver for eleven years. I am raising 3 hardworking children. I continue to managed a hugely successful farmers market for the better part of the last 10 years, where I have learned how to run an organization focused on attracting small businesses as well as the consumers that drive them, skills certainly useful considering the current state of our downtown.

I do not make it a practice to judge or evaluate people based on their educational level or a degree they have achieved. Education does not equal intelligence. In my life I am surrounded by many individuals who have a have a string of letters after their name, and many who don’t.  Both have been successful in providing exceptional lives for themselves and their families. Many of these hard-working individuals are the most intuitive and brilliant people around. I have nothing but true respect for them.

There has been a substantial discussion on social media about my education and somehow equating it to a lack of intelligence or ineptitude. It has been stated repeatedly that I didn’t graduate high school, that I “only have a GED”, that I’m stupid and I’m only qualified for what was described as a low-level position at the bus company. It is truly disturbing. So, as I tend to do, I ruminate on the effects of those words. I find myself flooded with emotions which quickly turns to disgust with a splash of fury.  I think about how others might feel when they read posts whose intent is to shame and intimidate based on the simple elitist notion that educated=qualified. There is no thought given to who may identify with these words. For the past several years I have attended the Commencement ceremony for the Attleboro Community Academy.  ACA is a Massachusetts state accredited high school diploma program, independent from Attleboro High School, which provides an alternative path to graduation for struggling students and high school dropouts from Attleboro and the surrounding communities. It is the most uplifting event I attend all year. I recognize that many these students are highly intelligent and capable. They have learned life skills many of us will never have to tap into. Many had no choice.

So what happens when these comments are shared and posted over and over? It divides our city. It puts all our residents in separate boxes. The haves and the have nots. The smart and the dumb. The educated vs. intelligent. The words reinforce an idea to many that they are not good enough, lack intelligence, and shouldn’t strive for their dreams and goals…  and heaven help you if you want to be the Mayor for the City of Attleboro.

For much of my life I have been underestimated. In many ways that notion is a fuel that keeps me striving for more and gives me the motivation to accomplish my goals.

All I have to say to those who find themselves in the same boat as me: be open, keep learning, keep working, you may not get there the first time, but keep grinding. Never lose focus. You’ve got this. I’ve got your back.

And to the ones who judge and criticize, never underestimate the passion, drive and desire someone has to attain their goals and dreams.

In other words: Tell me I can’t, and I will show you exactly how I can. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

Mosquito Spraying Update from the State

Mosquito Spraying Update from the State

Good Evening everyone, I spoke to the Department of Public Health this afternoon, Mr. Robert W Oliver, Policy Projects Manager was very informative. Massachusetts Department of Health in conjunction with the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resource issued a Joint press release on the second round of spraying that will take place over the next few evenings. Parts of Attleboro are included in this next round of spraying.

“MDAR will conduct and monitor aerial spraying in specific areas of Bristol and Plymouth counties which is anticipated to begin on Wednesday, August 21, and continue over several evenings. However, the ability to spray is weather dependent and the schedule may change. Residents are encouraged to visit the DPH website at www.mass.gov/guides/aerial-mosquito-control-summer-2019 for the latest updates on spraying in their communities. ”

Please follow the links below for additional information and Frequently asked questions.

PRESS RELEASE 8-20-19 https://heatherforattleboro.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/2019-08-20-DPH-MDAR-EEE-press-annoucement.pdf

DRAFT MAP OF ROUND 2 SPRAYING https://heatherforattleboro.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Draft-Planned-Spray-Area..pdf

Massachusetts Guide to Aerial Spraying https://www.mass.gov/guides/aerial-mosquito-control-summer-2019

Keeping Cool when things got hot!

Keeping Cool when things got hot!

Hot enough for ya?

As you may know there has been a little ‘heat’ in the city and highlighted in the Sun Chronicle over events that took place surrounding the opening of a cooling location at LaSalette Shrine a few weekends back.  Let’s have a chat about that ..shall we??

In the days leading into the weekend of July 20th & 21st I started receiving phone calls from residents who were concerned about the heat predictions for the coming weekend. Every news outlet was highlighting how dangerous the extreme heat levels would be. Residents were concerned and inquiring if the city would be opening a cooling location similar to our surrounding communities. Mansfield, North Attleboro and Seekonk all opened cooling centers. 

Several Councilors reached out to the Mayor to ask him what his plan was. The mayor stated that unless there was a power outage the city would not be opening the emergency cooling center. He stated that he consulted with department heads and the opinion was that people should shelter in place. If it got too hot and they needed to seek relief they could go to the library or Emerald Square Mall. He referred us to his facebook page and told us people could look there for information.


That’s how the Mayor cares for the most vulnerable people in our city? Hey you, sweating at home…Go check out my Facebook, then hit the mall? The circumstances that the residents of Attleboro were facing clearly didn’t matter to him. He took Friday off and disappeared for the weekend. But not without first reminding everyone to never leave a dog in a hot car, or walk them on hot pavement (seriously.. Don’t do that). I can only ask: What are his priorities?

So who are those most in need in our community?

Epidemiological studies have repeatedly shown that death rates rise in association with extremely hot weather.  Studies confirm that the elderly and people with pre-existing medical conditions are sensitive to extreme heat. Elderly people are most affected. The impact on death rates due to heart failure, arrhythmia and stroke are particularly striking.

But they should go to the mall? 

The Mayor effectively pawned our city residents, those most vulnerable, those we are expected to protect, off on another community, without any safeguards in place to provide simple things like breathable cool air, a bottle of  water and a snack. And most certainly took no action to address the larger concern of those who may require medical attention.

Due to his lack of leadership, and actively turning his back on our residents, members of the Council and our State Delegation as well as just regular good old citizens took action.  We were aware of the effects of temperature on the health and well being of our residents. We needed to do something. . 

La Salette graciously opened their doors. We got the word out. We chose to volunteer our time and resources on private property for the good of our community. A need was identified, and we fulfilled that need. I am proud of how we rallied. How we provided a compassionate and caring service. We showed the residents that we have their back.

The city and its residents should never be in a place where we have to be reactionary. Everyone knew it was going to be unusually hot days before. We need to have a consistent plan in place. If the mayor feels that we shouldn’t open municipal buildings then we need to  create relationships with organizations in our community that can serve the needs of our city residents. These collaborations are needed. 

Communication is also key. Making people aware of what to do in these so called “non emergencies”, but very risky circumstances is paramount. We need to provide Reverse 911 calls, postings on the city website, a scroll on local cable access. And yes.. Social media as well.

The city was never at risk of being sued or liable. This was no different than inviting a friend over to cool down in your house on a hot day. This is what being compassionate and thoughtful looks like. This is what I mean when I say, #nicematters.