City Council votes to refer casino talks to committee
By Deborah Allard
Herald News Staff Reporter
Posted Apr 20, 2010 @ 11:47 PM
FALL RIVER —
The City Council at its Tuesday meeting voted to refer talks with the Aquinnah Indian tribe about locating a gaming casino in the city to the Economic Development and Tourism Committee.
The Aquinnah tribe of Gayhead has expressed interest in the city, but councilors agreed that all tribes, as well as private developers, be given the chance to take part in the casino talks.The decision was also based on a letter received from the Pocasset Tribe voicing its concerns about a gaming casino.
The Pocassets moved to the North Watuppa area in 1709 and were deeded 97 acres in Fall River and 227 acres in Freetown. The Pocassets do not want to see a casino on the reservation and would like the land to remain as pristine as possible for future generations.City Council Vice President Linda Pereira and Councilor Brad.
Kilby initially proposed the talks in light of the Aquinnah tribe’s interest and the recent vote by the state House of Representatives to approve expanded gaming in the state.
“This is a major thing for our city whether you agree or disagree,” said Councilor Brian Bigelow, who also is chairman of the Economic Development and Tourism Committee.
The City Council was also set to vote on a Community Development Agency five-year plan and One-Year Annual Action Plan, but tabled that vote until the May 10 City Council meeting.Michael Dion, newly appointed executive director/CFO of the Community Development Agency, presented the plans, which came under fire.
Some council members had concerns about the amount of new low-income housing that may receive funding. Councilor Michael Lund said the city has been a “dumping ground” for this type of housing for years.
He said residents “don’t want more. They want less. There’s too much here.
“A vote supports this concept,” Lund continued. He said the 500-page book that outlines the Community Development Agency funding plans for Housing and Urban Development, Community Development Block grants, Emergency Shelter Grants and Home Investment Partnership Programs, was just received by the Council on Friday.
“I’m supposed to vote this tonight?” Lund asked.All of the councilors commended Dion on his work with the Community Development Agency for the last 13 years and welcomed him to his position.
They said tabling the vote was not a reflection on his hard work.Dion said he was simply following past practices of giving the plans to the City Council the week before the meeting.
The plans have been at the public library for viewing. Public hearings about the plan were held in January and March.
The action plan details activities for the year starting July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011. The plan must be submitted by Mayor Will Flanagan by May 15 to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Dion said if the plans are not submitted in time, funding could be lost.