FROED signs new three-year deal with Redevelopment Authority
Staffing for the Fall River Redevelopment Authority will remain the same after its board voted unanimously on Thursday to sign a new three-year contract with the Fall River Office of Economic Development. But the authority may be paying substantially more for their services.
FROED’s current contract costs the FRRA $7,500 monthly. The new three-year contract will increase to $10,000 a month in the first year and incrementally rise to $10,250 then $10,500 in the two subsequent years.
FROED, headed by Kenneth Fiola Jr., was the sole bidder for a request for proposals that was published in May. The current contract expires Aug. 31.
Fiola excused himself from the meeting while the board members discussed FROED’s proposed contract.
“We’re being held hostage, that’s my opinion,” was board member Ronald Rheaume’s initial reaction after FRRA’s corporate council John Coughlin read FROED’s proposal.
The ability for either party to terminate the contract went from a 180 days to a 30-day notice.
The new contract increases payments to FROED during the course of the agreement from $270,000 to $369,000.
The vote comes on the same day the cash-strapped FRRA closed on a $3.2 million sale on 42 acres of land bordering the landfill in Commerce Park for the development of a proposed solar farm.
Rheaume questioned whether the board could extend the existing contract for a year “so we could look over other options over.”
According to FRRA’s regulations, an extension could only reflect 25 percent of the monetary amount of the contract, explained Coughlin.
With the end of the present agreement looming, Coughlin advised the board to accept the contract.
“If you want to change course, you can do that at any time,” Coughlin said. “If that’s what you want a shorter window to think about it. In the meantime at least you’re operating, you’ve got a lot of projects.”
Vice Chairman Anthony Cordeiro said he felt it was possible to negotiate with Fiola and FROED.
“We’ve had a relationship with this entity for the last 15 to 20 years, so there’s good will on both sides,” Cordeiro said, “I think we should accept the contract the way the corporation counsel stated ... and have a sit-down with FROED and try to negotiate the monthly fee. If that doesn’t work we have plenty of time to figure out what we can and cannot do.”
The board agreed to authorize Chairman William Kenney and Cordeiro to negotiate with FROED and accept the new contract as written.
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