Foxboro Commuter Rail Station, January 2014. Photo by Robert Gillis
Foxboro Commuter Rail Station, January 2014. Photo by Robert Gillis

by Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter 1/2015

Before I begin this OP/ED, I think it appropriate to make the following statements: number one, I am NOT implying or accusing anyone of any wrongdoing. Number two, I have every respect for the Kraft organization, and believe that our number one tax payer is an enormous benefit to the town of Foxboro. Number three, I am NOT implying or saying that our selectmen have done anything wrong.

All that said, I am VERY confused about recent events in the town of Foxboro. I picked up last week’s Reporter and learned that if the city of Boston hosts the Olympics in 2024 events would likely be held in Foxboro. In addition, it seems that the extension of the commuter rail to the Foxboro train station at Patriot Place is a done deal.

I’m not being funny; I’m asking a valid question: when did all this happen? Who approved it? Did I miss a year’s worth of town meetings, letters to the editor, new stories, and referendum questions on the ballot?

What I don’t understand is WHY the commuter rail extension is assumed to be approved. I’m the first to admit that my understanding of the inner workings of politics and business is limited, but I do try to read all the news relating to our town.

We all remember the war – and it literally was a WAR – regarding the possibility of building a casino/resort on Route 1 in Foxboro. This town was quite literally torn apart, neighbor against neighbor, and went so far that some of our elected officials at the time received death threats – death threats – over a BUSINESS on Route 1.

While I was – and remain – against the idea of a casino on Route 1 – I have to be begrudgingly agree with the many people around town who argued that the TOWN never got a chance to vote on whether to enter into the host community negotiations. That decision was made by the selectmen at the time not to enter such an agreement. I respected the decision then and now. While the end result was favorable to many (including myself), I have to be fair in saying that the argument that the TOWN did not get a chance to vote on the casino is a valid point.

Now, it’s January, 2015. In what seems like a matter of weeks, we are getting a commuter rail extension to Foxboro/Patriot Place to be opened in 2016. Also, if Boston hosts the Olympics, 2024 Foxboro will be on the world stage.

I’m not going to debate whether either of these is a good or bad thing – I’m going to ask THIS question – WHERE is the debate, where is the discussion? Who decided that? Who approved it? Aren’t there hundreds of questions that need to be answered?

This town has spent the better part of the last several years discussing and debating Town hall – do we build a new one, do we tear down the old one, do we refurbish, how many square feet will it be? Do we need a new Town hall? This discussion has been ongoing for years. The discussion continues. Last November, there was a town vote regarding Town hall. People had a say.

So my question is, why do I open the paper and find out that the commuter rail is coming the Foxboro, and people are talking Gillette Stadium for the Olympics in 2024?

Forget 2024, what about 2015? What about the issues we face right now? What about Town hall? What about the length of the school day? What about protecting the kids from predators? What about any of the thousand matters of town government that need to be addressed now, here in 2015?

What I don’t understand – and perhaps I’m in the minority here – is that it can take YEARS to make what might seem the most benign, innocuous of decisions about a small matter – but suddenly were getting the train station, and hosting the Olympics here in Foxboro. What the hell?

Again, I’m not being funny, I am a concerned citizen of Foxboro who is asking this question: why do some major decisions get made and implemented with not so much as a peep from anyone, while we battle for years over how many signs are too many around Foxboro common?

I’m not accusing anyone of anything wrong, I’m not saying anyone has done anything bad. Growth for Foxboro = GOOD. I am a huge fan of the Kraft group and what they have done for the town. And I have respect for our selectmen.

I’m just asking: shouldn’t the PEOPLE of Foxboro have input into these major discussions? Or will I drive to work next week and find out that Mechanic Street has been converted to a Route 95 Highway?

Where’s the dialogue? Where’s the town input? Who decides what’s important enough for the town to vote upon, and who decides what to just go on ahead and DO?

Think about it. What in the world is happening here? And what is yet to come?

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