Taunton has some complaints about its neighbor to the north. As someone originally from the Silver City, but a resident of Norton since the age of 2, I’d like to say something to the city of my birth: You have GOT to be kidding!
City officials are concerned about traffic from new Norton businesses planning to locate in the Norton Commerce Center near the Taunton line. The mayor and some city councilors worry that trucks from a new Waste Management depot on Hill Street and Horizon Beverage taking over the old GM building will damage roads in the Myles Standish Industrial Park.
Mayor Crowley questioned Norton-generated traffic causing roads to deteriorate without providing any funding, and Councilor Deborah Carr suggested banning trucks on the Taunton end of Hill Street – which probably stretches all of a half-mile.
To begin with, have they even looked at their industrial park roads in the last few years? There are roads in war zones smoother than these streets. If the city is spending a lot of money maintaining them, they should review where that money is actually going. As someone who drives through the park regularly, I can attest to the fact these roads are a threat to vehicles everywhere – and it isn’t because of traffic from Norton.
This is simply an attempt by Taunton to get some money to fix their roads from somebody else. To call it extortion would be an exaggeration – but not overly so. You have to admire their chutzpah, even if their motives and objectives are glaringly and obviously self-serving and unfair.
Those of us who have been around a while find this particularly galling, given how Taunton wound up with that industrial park land in the first place. When the state decided to unload the Paul A. Dever property located in Taunton and Norton years ago, a legislative deal was struck to give Taunton the land within its borders for virtually no cost. But when Norton then tried to get the same deal, city officials and the state legislature cried foul. Norton eventually acquired the land for industrial purposes, but paid for the privilege.
This allowed Taunton to develop a busy industrial park quickly, while Norton struggled, due in part to the cost of the land. It’s funny, but I don’t recall Taunton officials back then worrying about the effect their park and its traffic might have on nearby Norton roads. It is an enormous double-standard.
Norton selectmen have said they understand Taunton’s concerns and stand ready to work with them. That is the smart thing to say and do, and I commend them for it. But while they have to be careful about alienating the more politically powerful city to our south, others like me do not.
Get your hands out of our pockets, Taunton officials. We didn’t stand in the way of you improving your industrial/commercial base, so please stop trying to benefit from our efforts in that regard. In short – don’t blame us for your crappy roads.
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and a longtime Norton resident. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.