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Fall River Redevelopment Authority accepts $625,000 grant for City Pier project

August 22, 2013 : The Herald News, by Jo C. Goode

FALL RIVER — The second phase of the City Pier project got a boost when the Fall River Redevelopment Authority accepted a $625,000 grant from MassDevelopment, the state's finance and development authority.

Kenneth Fiola Jr., staff person for the authority and head of the Fall River Office of Economic Development, made the announcement on Thursday at the FRRA's monthly meeting.

“I think this is huge,” said Anthony Cordeiro, FRRA's vice chairman.

The grant will help fund site assessment and remediation at the City Pier, which is located on 4.5 acres on the Taunton River and Davol Street. The money comes from the agency's Brownfields Redevelopment fund.

Years ago, contamination, including cancer-causing PCB's, were discovered at the site, and during initial cleanup efforts, more contamination was discovered.

Fiola said the company is working on several different designs that include scaling back from a full-service, 110 slip marina, to smaller facility that would include the construction of a restaurant between the north and south piers.

FRRA is planning to shore up the sea wall that will need to support a three-foot cap needed to cover the contaminated river floor, Fiola said. That project could cost up to $5 million.

In a related announcement, Fiola said he's been in communication with contractor Barletta Heavy Division, the company contracted by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to work on the accelerated bridge project on the Braga Bridge.

The company is requesting the use of the city pier as a staging site for two to three years, Fiola said. Barletta would use the city pier property to store steel beams or as a drop-off point for material being removed from the bridge. Cranes on barges would load and offload material at the site.

Fiola said he's working with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, “to see if it's doable and allowable.” He said there's been no discussion with Barletta yet on how much they would pay to lease the pier property.

DEP is looking to see if it can be done so as not to disturb existing contamination, Fiola said.

“However, I don't want to turn my back arbitrarily and say this isn't a good idea because it could lead to revenue for the Redevelopment Authority,” Fiola said.

Cordeiro asked where Barletta would go if it couldn't use City Pier.

“They're scrambling,” Fiola said.

“OK, so, if they really needed to use our site, would they be willing to put up front money… so we can move on doing one half of the site and not have to delay and delay?” Cordeiro asked.

Fiola said he thought that could be negotiated, adding that he had another idea.

“In turn for leasing the site, they could start doing all the utility trenching we need, that's not contaminated,” Fiola said, “But I don't know if we get around that from a legal standpoint. Give them a break on the lease and they put in all our utility. I think that would be one way to skin the cat.”

Cordeiro advised Fiola to keep the conversation with Barletta open.