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Fall River – A City Overwhelmed in an Economic Crisis

20 Mar

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While towns and cities across the nation suffer during this economic crisis, Lizzie Borden’s Fall River with its nearly 17% unemployment (more than twice the State’s average)  has laid off nearly 150 city workers of which the majority are police and fire personnel.   When a community starts laying off  “first responders” you know they are in deep trouble.  Police patrol levels are down to 1976 levels and most special services have been eliminated or seriously cut back.

policedeptfallriverp

Click HERE for a brief video from Boston.com on what is happening to Fall River.  This is a very graphic and depressing report, and certainly does the City no favors in attracting new business or residents.

Even the arts community is suffering from lack of civic support and must deal with inept, unresponsive city officials lacking vision, ethical leadership and appreciation for what the City once had, what it has left, and what still can be saved.

Local activists recently held a rally against the Fall River Redevelopment Authority’s action on proposals to renovate the old Durfee Textile School.  The activists wanted the building to be primarily for artists with no low income housing.  That very afternoon the City went with Peabody Associates (which the group did NOT want) who will have mixed use of condos and arts.  So the group lost.

Stefani Koorey recites a metaphoric poem in the video where she is introduced as “Goofy” and begins by declaring she chose to move to Fall River. The video is about 35 minutes long but once you click it to start and it comes on, slide the bar to 14 minutes, 48 seconds (14.48) and Stefani will be introduced.

Of more importance to Borden buffs who have visited Fall River – but what is off the town’s radar in terms of project priorities – is the bank foreclosure on Abbey Grill, aka the “Central Congregational Church”.

cc1 Side view 2008

When the Fall River Herald News reported the closure of the Abby Grill most online citizen comments seemed in agreement that this historic and beautiful and unique edifice  should be torn down and made into a parking lot!

The property will be the subject of an auction next week but given there are hundreds of thousands of dollars in needed repairs and upgrades, prospects for saving it from the wrecking ball seem slim.  This structure is as iconic to Fall River as is the Braga Bridge, Battleship Cove, St. Anne’s and many of the old mills with their towering smoke stacks.

1st-congr-church1 Front view 2006

Fall River’s golden decade was the 1870’s but it never fully recovered from the mid 1920’s when most of the mills had failed.  Today it suffers from lack of industry, severely reduced police and fire services, closing schools, increased crime, high unemployment and a general population that cares little for the historic fabric that made  Fall River  so important to America’s Industrial Age.

Running silent and unseen beneath the surface of  the City,

the Quequechan River empties out into the Bay.

Quiet too are the tears that flow by those who love Fall River

Tears that grieve for its yesteryears

and saddened for its Today.

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