Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sparks fly as councilors question officials on casino deal

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FALL RIVER — Kenneth Fiola, the city’s point person on developing 300 acres envisioned for a tribal casino resort and marketing an alternative biomanufacturing area, told the City Council the prospects of a $500 million investment with 4,500 good-paying jobs over 3 to 5 years made this a gamble the city couldn’t and shouldn’t pass up.

“In the short term,” the casino’s a game changer. ... Clearly no one project ever represented the possibility of 4,500 jobs for all segments of our labor force,” Fiola, who’s headed the Fall River Office of Economic Development for over 20 years, told the council Tuesday night.

For 2½ hours of intense questioning by several councilors, Fiola, Corporation Counsel Steven Torres and Redevelopment Authority Chairman William Kenney explained and defended decisions made since the spring that some saw as negating progress.

It was the most public dialogue with key officials of Mayor Will Flanagan’s key casino players since he announced the controversial sale of the 300-acre envisioned biotechnology park near Route 24.

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