Long after failed Meditech deal, Freetown and FROED to talk business development
For the first time since Meditech Inc. opted not to develop a facility in town, the Fall River Office of Economic Development and Freetown will get together in a roundtable discussion to brainstorm how to develop jobs.
More specifically, each side will discuss how they want to develop their municipality’s business parks.
Along with Freetown selectmen and FROED Executive Vice President Kenneth Fiola, state Rep. Carole Fiola and Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District’s Executive Director Stephen Smith will also be at the 9 a.m. meeting on Tuesday.
Kenneth Fiola said this meeting represents the first formal, roundtable discussion that has taken place between FROED and Freetown since both entities’ failed attempt in 2012 to persuade Meditech to build in Freetown’s Riverfront Business Park.
Fiola said since the Meditech plans fell through, both sides have talked individually but no formal conversations have taken place. He said Fall River’s SouthCoast Life Science and Technology Park on the Freetown border has 35 acres in Freetown. Meanwhile, Freetown’s Riverfront Business Park straddles the Fall River line.
Kenneth Fiola said both sides have similar interests — “FROED wants to create jobs and Freetown wants the tax revenue.”
“The purpose is for a better working relationship and for each town and city to understand the wants and needs of the other,” Selectwoman Lisa Pacheco said.
Carole Fiola, who represents the Assonet section of town, said she met with many Assonet Village residents during her campaigning and quickly learned that economic development was a top priority.
As a result, she coordinated this meeting, believing that progress can be made if both sides are on the same page.
“I am not sure what we will get out of it, but after the meeting we will come to some sort of understanding,” Carole Fiola said.
Kenneth Fiola is the husband of Carole Fiola.
While Freetown and Fall River officials will likely have mutual goals in mind, one Freetown resident might serve as a nemesis to any proposed development — South Main Street resident Richard Levesque.
Levesque said he is taking a keen interest in the meeting and what could stem from it.
“Who benefits (from development)? Financially — Freetown would benefit because of taxes and not significantly, but that’s it. It would end up costing us more money because of the drain on our infrastructure (fire/police),” Levesque wrote in an email.
Levesque has been a vocal opponent of development in the area, especially after the Route 24 interchange was built near his home.
Levesque said his quiet country home is now greeted to the constant sounds of jake brakes and the idling of cars and trucks during odd hours of the night.
“It’s now becoming a nuisance. We have to use air conditioners to keep the sound out,” Levesque said. “So suffice it to say that the quality of life has degenerated here.”