The Executive Vice President of the Bristol County Economic Development Consultants joined WSAR and discussed the severed relationship from late last year between his group and the Fall River RDA Board.
"Since 2017, there's no secret the mayor had been trying to terminate the contract between the redevelopment authority and ourselves,” Ken Fiola said. “He needed to get the proper board members on there to do so. When you hire city employees like Bob Smith, the harbormaster and Kara O'Connell the assistant harbormaster there may be some more control over those board members."
Fiola went on to say the relationships on the current RDA Board are in need of examination.
"The fact that Mr. Smith is a city employee puts him in a compromised position,” he said. “He's repeatedly said at least at the last meeting if not before that - that he's personally being sued by me. That's a total inaccurate statement."
A lingering issue between the former F.R.O.E.D (Fall River Office of Economic Development) and the Fall River RDA was the issue of a shipment of gravel utilized at the city pier without authorization - which has become a hot button topic in the last few weeks in Fall River.
"It consisted of a potential payback of the cost overrun by the engineer who allowed the gravel to be brought to the site and utilized without a change order,” Fiola explained. “There were a lot of things on the table such as discussions to how we're going to address the gravel issue. But let us be clear, the fact of the matter remains that this was an unauthorized change order."
The RDA is now saying a portion of the gravel may have to be removed in order for a non-permeable material like asphalt to be laid on a portion of the pier. But Fiola says members of the board need to accept responsibility for their role in city ier issues.
"As they get side tracked with things such as the city pier, they're looking for somebody else to blame,” he said. “This was explained to them last Fall in terms of what they could and couldn't do along the city pier but that doesn't seem to have any bearing on their ability accept responsibility."
The RDA’s newly hired Economic Development Director will begin duties in July while a lawsuit over the severing of the consulting contract with the board and former F.R.O.E.D is in the legal queue this Spring.