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Attleboro Council Votes for ARA Payment Plan

Councilors side with the city solicitor's recommendation that paying $1.1 million will be the best way for the city and the troubled Attleboro Redevelopment Authority to move forward.

Following a lengthy and heated executive session in which loud voices and the slamming of a table could be heard from a closed-door room, the City Council voted 9-2 in public on Tuesday for the city to cover the $1.1 million payment a jury ordered the Attleboro Redevelopment Authority to make.

The payment will go to Therese Anderson and Tamara Cullaz, who won a lawsuit in 2008 claiming they were underpaid when the troubled agency took their property by eminent domain. 

The decision will also settle a pending lawsuit against the ARA and the city claiming the civil rights of Anderson and Cullaz were violated by the ARA's failure to pay the jury award.

The money will be released this year in three istallments of $369,000, with the first payment being made within the next 30 days. The city could recover two-thirds of the cost through the pending sale of an ARA property on Wall Street, off South Main Street.  

Prior to the vote, Councilor Brian Kirby, who heads the Committee on Budget & Appropriations, encouraged his colleagues to support the proposal.

"The city can then move forward through these dark clouds and move on so that the ARA can ... continue the good work that they've done and these projects can then move forward without the incredible albatross that has been around their necks for so long," Kirby said.

City Solicitor Robert Mangiaratti, who proposed the plan along with Mayor Kevin Dumas, told councilors if they rejected the proposal, the city leaders risked the loss of significantly more money in the civil rights suit. Also, he said the ARA would be forced to sell its properties at auction to come up with the money to pay Anderson and Cullaz, which he said would essentially put the agency out of business.

"The redevelopment authority is worth preserving because it does serve a lot of good for the city," Mangiaratti said. "Although it has had terrible problems in the past, it is making a very strong effort to benefit the public through the downtown project and to work its way through all of these problems."

The two dissenting votes came from Councilors Richard Conti and Jonathan Weydt. After the meeting, Weydt said he did not think the city would be getting enough money back from the ARA.

"We left a lot on the table, I believe," Weydt said. "We could have had a lot more than that."

He added, "There is a lot more debt that needs to be repaid for the ARA … and we'll be back at this table again several times."

Nobody spoke about the plan with enthusiastic support. Councilor Shannon Heagney called it a "necessary evil that needs to be done." Councilor Jeremy Denlea said he did not necessarily like it.

"But sometimes in life, the right thing to do is not the popular thing to do," Denlea said. "And I am convinced that this is the right thing to do for the city of Attleboro."

Tisiphone May 02, 2012 at 01:46 PM
"he said would essentially put the agency out of business." What is so wrong with that? Couldn't we immediately create a new ARA?
blueskies May 02, 2012 at 01:58 PM
I thought this WAS a new ARA? But the "sins/errors" of previous board are still being dealt with.?
EVP May 02, 2012 at 02:20 PM
"The redevelopment authority is worth preserving because it does serve a lot of good for the city," Mangiaratti said. What good is that? A 1.1m payout because of the fools in city government is a good thing, really. Vote them all out "No Incumbents"
Wayne Lacroix May 02, 2012 at 02:35 PM
"Nobody spoke about the plan with enthusiastic support" yet they supported it? Once again, Councilors Conti and Weydt were on the right side, and in my opinion, voted in the best interests of the citizens.
Wayne Lacroix May 02, 2012 at 02:45 PM
Councilor Kirby said, (by paying 1.1 million) "The city can then move forward through these dark clouds and move on so that the ARA can continue the good work that they've done and these projects can then move forward without the incredible albatross that has been around their necks for so long," Good work? spending millions of dollars of the taxpayers money through bad deals and attorney fee's. Paul a sieve is right and I don't think it's the end.Stay tuned.
Aaron Bennett May 02, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Good to see there's money to burn, yet, Full Day Kindergarten remains unfunded.
Dolly May 02, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Have a long memory when election times comes in about 1 1/2 years. Start now and tell your city councilors that a parking garage is a waste of money! There are 300 to 400 parking spaces available every day at the train station. Who wants to look at a cement structure that no one wants to use? They should poll the commuters.
blueskies May 02, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Dolly, I am confused. who is building another parking garage?
Fact Checker May 02, 2012 at 06:43 PM
Having spent sometime on the phone with my councilor over the past few days trying to understand all of this, let me see if I can make the muddy water slightly less muddy: "The good work of the ARA": the ARA is able to do things for the city which it cannot do for itself. Example, because the city may have been one of the polluters at the highway yard (there's a stretch) the city cannot get state or federal money to clean up the site, the ARA can. The parking garage is more than that it is a multi-modal (train, taxi, bus) center that is largely being funded by GATRA in conjunction with MBTA and Amtrak and working with ARA. One court has already said that the city will be liable for ARA debt. If the court process continued, the very likely outcome was that the city loses, pays more interest, more court costs and more attorney's fees. In the end, it would have probably been double. I got all of this information because I called to tell my councilor I wanted the ARA to fail and I was informed of the ramifications. As usual, do not believe me, call your councilor and ask. Conti and Weydt were wrong in this instance.
Steven Scott May 02, 2012 at 07:34 PM
All I have seen so far is the FACT that 2 buisness have been run out of town to make way for vacant lots. a lot of other promoses but that is all I have seen !!!
Tisiphone May 02, 2012 at 09:21 PM
Here is a refreshing thought. take the losses and start fresh. No one seems to want to think outside of the "government box". Start with selling the former Automatic Machine lot to a private developer. Since it is rather difficult to get financing for undersireable projects,this should result in a project that the public wants. Only governments can get financing for "hopes and dream". Why are we building parking that will service Rhode Islanders? Then let's get out from under the "Business Park" (no one dares say "Industrial Park" anymore). Let it become residential, it isn't going anywhere with industrial zoning. Show me another "Business Park" built on a ragged hill top. Enough of "If we build it, they will come". The importance of being "multi modal" is that it can get funding under the "Intermodal Transportation Act" (so do bikeways painted on a street). More hopes and dreams. Take some that old industrial property around Union street and make it "loft apartments" within walking distance to the train. Sorry, Mansfield can't get anywhere with that idea either. Most cities rely on "parcel assembly" and then turn it over to a private developer who knows what he is doing. That seems to be a successful model. We seem stuck with the idea we can milk the goverment funding system and come out with a desireable result. "A moose is a deer, designed by a committee". We have assembled the parcels, let's send out RFP's and get opinions from people with proven abilities..
blueskies May 02, 2012 at 11:05 PM
I might be wrong but I think I have read that the ARA IS doing much of what you suggest. They are not developers but do get the grants to clean up the contaminants so the developers can build ,..at least that is what I think I heard last night
Patricia Resende May 03, 2012 at 12:38 AM
I wish there was a like button for those of us in the 'Boro who would "like" to oust Fact Checker from Patch! Seems like he has something negative to say about anyone that questions how the city is run from the corner office. Or shall I say the office down the hall from the corner office ...
paul May 03, 2012 at 01:46 AM
I worked in jewelry for years in Attleboro, those were the good old days. Jewelry is not coming back, nothing is right now. No matter how nice you make the yellow brick road to Attleboro, this area is dead and taxes are too high. This ARA idea is not new, it goes on at every level and it's a waste. It's not the governments job to create jobs, that's socialism! Paying out 1.1 million should be the last transaction for the ARA.
Tisiphone May 03, 2012 at 02:27 AM
Blue, the ARA did decide we needed a business park and did try build it. It was the ARA who decided on expanding the train statio, condos along the 10 Mile, etc. Actually, that was probably a consensus decision with the ARA as a vehicle. Now it is the whipping boy. An unfortunate part of the governmental decision process is that it is driven by what grants are available. If there were no "intermodal grants", but there were "Airport grants" we would be building an airport. If this sounds rediculous ask anyone old enough to remember about Wiggins Airport, that was at the junction of 106 and 152.
Tisiphone May 03, 2012 at 02:47 AM
I, for one, think Fact Checker simply states the obvious. There seems to be a lot of negatives emanating from City Hall. I have often wondered if it is the way City Hall is reported on. How deep a hole did the ARA have to dig before it was headlines? Why does Fact Checker have to call his councilor to find out what the ARA is all about. Shouldn't such knowledge be part of the news? Particularly with the known history of Redevelopment Agencies in Massachusetts, why wasn't everyone's ear to the ground? The existence of a Redevelopment Agency is a clarion call for the "hard eye" and frequent investigation. Isn't it so convenient that the City cannot get grants for clean up because the City is part of the problem, yet if the City can establish an alter-ego so that "creature of the city" can get grants? Doesn't this take all of the sting out of the City's wrongdoing? Why shouldn't Walton & Lonsbury be able to form another corporation/agncy to obtain grants to clean up it's property? Government is very faliable. Everyone who likes our swoopy new sidewalks downtown, please raise your hand. I wonder if the design was not required to obtain a grant?
blueskies May 03, 2012 at 12:33 PM
Tisiphone, Were these "decisions" that you have listed part of the "plans" that are currently in place? Or is the present board attempting not only to clear up the contaminants around the city, but also the poor leadership actions of a previous board? Does the current board have a workable plan if they ever escape the problems they have been working under due to previous actions?
blueskies May 03, 2012 at 12:38 PM
As a "governmental" body isn't the ARA under the requirements of the open meeting law? I think I have seen announcements of their meetings posted here on the Patch. Who is responsible for deciding what parts of their meetings are reported on? I know that some issues e.g. litigation may be in executive session, but certainly their entire meeting cannot be held behind closed doors. How many of the writers on here have attended their meetings? Does anyone know when they next meet?
Dolly May 03, 2012 at 08:32 PM
The ARA.
Jonathan Friedman (Editor) May 04, 2012 at 01:23 AM
Hi FC. Thank you for reading my bio. Which part were you trying to point out to Patricia? I am curious, why do you not use your real name on this site? I think everybody's statements on Patch could have a stronger effect if readers knew they were coming from real people. Please consider using your actual name when you post comments.
blueskies May 04, 2012 at 01:55 AM
It is my understanding that the MBTA will eventually be building a garage adjacent to the bus area being constructed by GATRA. The ARA is NOT building anything. They are overseeing the cleanup of several area of the city which are/have been contaminated.. Again I could be wrong as I am not an expert
Reason May 04, 2012 at 12:16 PM
I uploaded a few documents with information on the downtown project as it was proposed in 2006. We haven't heard much about if this plan has changed. https://www.dropbox.com/sh/37idmnwvs899w1h/JdT4NdGOaZ
blueskies May 04, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Thank you reason for this info...I will be reading it over quite carefully
Fact Checker May 04, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Jonathan: I was referring to the section specifically entitled "beliefs" where you explained "So in the spirit of simple honesty, our policy is to encourage our editors to reveal certain key beliefs to the extent they feel comfortable. ". Ms, Resende clearly has a bias regarding the Mayor and it would have been appropriate if she had disclosed that when she was editor. Before you became the editor, I explained early on that I can at times be provocative, incendiary, or, as is the case most times, embarrassing with my comments and as a result, I opt not to subject my family and friends to harassment based upon my stupidity. There are times, as in the postings here regarding the ARA, where I pass along information and encourage others to get confirmation as to its validity or lack thereof. Whether you know who I am or not does not change the statements. As for the screen name itself? Look back at the early days of this blog in Attleboro. Accuracy was cast aside in favor of getting something posted and I felt compelled to correct those errors I saw. You can choose to ignore my postings because they are not under my name or not. There are postings on here that I immediately dismiss because of the name. As an aside: take a look at this list http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_pen_names Do you dismiss the offerings of these writers?
Patricia Resende June 23, 2012 at 09:48 PM
By the way Fact Checker, I was not editor of Patch at the time of this post. I am not bias against Dumas. I think he's done a nice job cleaning up the city. I did, however, have a job to do and that was to uncover the facts. The more questions that I asked the more people in this city tried to silence me, including you.
Jerry Chase July 31, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Tisiphone, It's a very safe bet that for the City to accept the grant money for the new sidewalks, it had to accept the atrocious design . . . which might be okay in many parts of America; but here in Southern New England cities, it's impractical and a dreadfully poor layout. BTW, the same design has been spotted in some cities of Pennsylvania . . where there's more wide-open spaces.
Tisiphone July 31, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Jerry, I wonder if it would be possible to use city money to remove some of the obtuseness from those sidewalks. I wonder if people realize how much sidewlaks are a part of a streetscape. The flat storefronts and the swoopy sidewlaks simply boggle the eye. Now,if some one could just find funds to restore the ground level of the Bates Block, that might do something for downtown. I undestand the theater is still in there, they just leveled the floor.
Jerry Chase August 01, 2012 at 01:09 AM
I don't know, Tisiphone. I don't know if there's a clause in the grant which states that the community must retain said sidewalk design and installation for so many years. But, even if there is no such stipulation, I truly doubt that there is ANY will or desire within the current administration to modify the current downtown sidewalk . . . even though they never should have been installed in the first place. In short, they're terrible, as many others concur. My thought is that the Western side of Union Street, from Park to Mill, should be razed for redevelopment, all the way to the railroad. It would be a nice-shaped parcel to build a fine example of what could become a genuine "magnet" and proof of what could be done downtown. And, of course, round off the South- Western sidewalk corner of Park and Union, to make it easier for right-hand turns from Park onto Union AND make it easier for those South-Bound on Pleasant Street to negotiate the goofy intersection there (including the raised crosswalk).
Jerry Chase March 14, 2013 at 01:47 AM
Early in May, 2012, "Blueskies" asked an excellent question: is the ARA obligated by law to obey the Open Meeting Law? I don't know; but I think not, especially given the seeming inconsistencies. As (s)he asked, "Does anyone know when they next meet?" Maybe tomorrow? Thurs. afternoon, 3/14 . . the library???
Tisiphone March 14, 2013 at 01:57 AM
Jerry, I just checked the Attorney General's guide to the open meeting law. It seems to include "the governing board of any local housing or redevelopment authority:" Of course there are several ways to avoid the Open Meeting Law and the Freedom of Information Act.

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