To the outsider, Raynham in 1996 was the dog track on Route 138 and the disjointed commercial strip called Route 44.

To the outsider, Raynham in 1996 was the dog track on Route 138 and the disjointed commercial strip called Route 44.

To then-new Town Planner Richard McCarthy, it was a community to discover.

He remembered the words of a professor at Syracuse University: Break down the perceptions and find the true story.

And the real story - tucked between the maze of state highways - was a beautiful town of oak-lined main streets, historic houses and numerous scenic back roads.

“People here take great pride in their homes and the architecture,” McCarthy said last week from an office filled with family photos, file cabinets and rolls and rolls of site plans waiting to be reviewed.

McCarthy, who is leaving his Raynham position of 12 years for a job in Randolph, has accomplished at least part of his mission to “break down the negatives, bring out the positives and then try to improve the negatives.”

He completed a master plan and an open space plan for the town.

He pushed for passage of “transfer development rights” and cluster housing bylaws that reward property owners and developers for preserving natural settings.

He sent local properties into cyberspace with geographic information mapping. He helped the town reach its affordable housing quota without the “horror” projects.

He also set to work on those perceived negatives - the track and Route 44.

Rather than kill the golden geese, he steered economic development in the right direction.
He drafted a site plan review bylaw to avoid replicating Route 44. He helped establish a tax incentive bylaw and he brought businesses to Raynham Woods Commerce Center.

On Friday, McCarthy earned a place of honor at the ribbon cutting ceremony for Electrochem, as company executives singled out his “initiative and professionalism” for bringing the battery maker to town in record time.

The property will bring $220,000 a year to the town in new property taxes.

As a grant writer, McCarthy also secured a $1 million grant from the state to repair drainage in the business park so the remaining lots can be developed.

Raised in a small town in New York’s Hudson River Valley, McCarthy said he went into urban planning because he was fascinated with the way people related to each other in a built-up setting.

He says Raynham can make the town even more neighborly by improving existing sidewalks and walking paths and increasing their number.

It’s important for residents to be able to get out into their neighborhoods, safely, and to feel connected.

He would like to preserve more open spaces like the Church Street Winery and improve public access to the woods around Borden Colony, the area around Hewitt’s Pond and the riverfronts of Pine Street and South Street East.

He says there is pressure to develop much of the remaining unspoiled areas of town.

“Open space advocates need to be more vocal,” he said.

McCarthy, 41, has accepted a position as planner for the town of Randolph. The job pays better and he’s thinking of his future.

He said he will miss the town and his town hall colleagues.

But he is looking forward to working in Randolph’s more urban setting. “Redevelopment is exciting stuff,” he says.

He said there are many Randolph natives who left for the greener pastures of Raynham.

“I want to try to make it a place they would move back to,” he said.

Raynham Call reporter Susan Parkou Weinstein can be reached at sweinste@cnc.com.