Wednesday, April 30, 2008

SouthCoast Photo of the Month


Here it is April's SouthCoast Photo of the month!

The other day I happened to find myself with the perfect view of the Borden Flats Lighthouse. As I looked and admired, I realized that this was the vantage point of a photo I had long admired. The photo is of the lighthouse with St. Anne's Church looming in the background. It's a great photo and like I said one I had long admired. In fact you can find a copy of it on the Fall River Community website. I don't go around carrying my camera with me but I just happened to have it and decided to try emulate the shot. Here for your viewing please is the result.


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Are you an avid picture taker? Do you have a shot you're particularly proud of? Perhaps just a shot that you'd like to share? Submit it here for the SouthCoast Photo of the Month! Send submissions to aviewfrombattleshipcove@google.com

Monday, April 28, 2008

Progress

For the first time in a long time the main entrance at Government Center is open for use. Today's rainy weather kept me from taking more than just a quick look. However that brief glimpse revealed a welcome sight. Instead of crumbling concrete and and brick, a new more handsome entrance greeted me. The sidewalk is now striped with a brick colored concrete and the drab-gray skirting has been replaced with one that is a reddish sandstone.

Up the road the structure of the new Downtown courthouse is starting to take shape. The Downtown location is not one I supported. Still I have to think that this courthouse will bring more vibrancy to Downtown than did South Main Place.

With the Downtown area now part of the Arts Overlay District and with the Mayor's emphasis on city cleanup I'm hopeful. A new courthouse, a more attractive downtown and a renovated Government Center will help show our city in a positive light.

For so long it seems we've talked about enhancing our city and revitalizing our Downtown. Finally instead of just talk it seems like we're actually making some progress.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

School Surplus

House rich, cash poor could be the motto of the Fall River School Department. It seems that the school department never has enough money to meet expenses. However the one thing the school department has too much of is schools!

This fall three new 'super-sized' schools will open up and replace ten older and smaller school buildings. Meanwhile there are already several unused or underutilized school buildings throughout the city.

It makes sense to evaluate the current use of all school buildings to ensure that we are using them in the most effective and efficient way possible. It makes sense to look at our current needs and our needs for the foreseeable future. However once we've done that it makes sense to sell the surplus school buildings because we can use the revenue and because we will no longer be responsible for maintaining a building that we have little need for.

Many of Fall River's school buildings are deeply rooted in the neighborhoods they served. It is therefor important to control who these buildings are sold to and how they are developed. Also I think it's important that revenue from school building sales be used for our schools. I personally favor the idea that such revenue would be earmarked in a school maintenance fund. I also favor the idea that property taxes generated from a former school building would be earmarked for educational use. This was something that Eric Poulin suggested in his run for mayor and I rather like the idea of these buildings serving education in perpetuity.

Maybe once the new Kuss Middle School opens we could house all of School Administration at the current Kuss site, instead of having housed in 3 different locations. Perhaps the Fowler School, nestled in its little neighborhood could be sold to be developed as condominiums or luxury apartments. The Highland School with is close proximity to Truesdale Clinic would seem an ideal location for medical offices. Perhaps the Stone School could be the new home for the Niagra-Maplewood Senior Center if the future of its current location is still uncertain. Maybe the historic NB Borden School, which once boasted Lizzie Borden as a pupil, would be an ideal location for the Children's Museum of Greater Fall River. After all, the building offers a reasonable amount of space, has parking, is near downtown and borders the Arts Overlay District. And it's already city owned.

There are so many things that we can do with those buildings, as long as we use common sense and make sure their future use fits into the fabric of our city. But we should do something with them so that they continue to have life and continue to benefit of this city.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Media Changes II

So the dust has settled and Keri is on in the mornings, 'Fast Eddie and the Hurricane handle the afternoon drive, and Mike Moran appears every Thursday in the Herald News. It's amazing how an effort to revitalize WSAR's morning lineup created this domino effect.

But what of these changes? How successful have they been? Back when I posted the first 'Media Changes' post I also ran two polls. The results of those polls indicated that 25% approved of Mike Moran's column. Meanwhile only 8% approved of the changes at WSAR.

Let's breakdown these 'media changes'.

Mike Moran - Columnist for the Herald News
I'll admit it, I was not happy to see Mike leave WSAR and thought the Herald was pretty slick in bringing Mike into the fold. I loved Mike's radio show - intelligent discussion! Mike could present a point of view and then walk away from it and play Devil's advocate. He would allow you to present your own view, and poke at it, question it, and challenge it, but hardly ever ridicule it.

However, Mike's move to the Herald shows that what he does best is discussion and debate and writing is about opinions and narratives. Mike's first column was a bit of a disappointment and while the succeeding columns have been better none of them would make me run out to buy a copy of the Herald News. I had high hopes for Mike's move the Herald News, right now I'm still hoping.

Fast Eddie and the Hurricane
When I first learned that Keri was moving to the mornings the one thing that made my blood run cold was the thought of 3 hours of some syndicated national talk show. I listen to WSAR for local talk, and Eddie and Mike certainly have focused on local topics. However the initial feedback I got on them was negative. Remember only 8% supported the changes at WSAR, but 48% thought Keri in the morning was a great idea. I certainly understood the criticism. Eddie had struggled with local topics and leans hard to the left. Mike might have a solid grasp of the local but he has the worst voice in radio. It's like Bea Arthur with a 5 pack a day habit. Except of course Bea is a better speaker.

Still, right from the first show these guys did together I thought they had a great chemistry. They work well together. Either by themselves might be a little overbearing but they have a certain charm together. And they're getting better with every show. I think that WSAR may have found a solid replacement for the afternoons but the ratings will tell.

The Bristol County Breakfast Club
Here is the reason for all the 'media changes'. In an effort to shake things up and improve their morning ratings, WSAR moves Keri Rodrigues to mornings. I was lukewarm on this idea. Why take your highest rated host and move her? Why mess up a good thing? Truthfully, I still feel that way. While Keri's own 1 hour show starts off talk-show row with a bang I've always felt the 1 hour time slot was too brief. The real problem is the BCBC seems to me to be Hec and Mike but with Hec and Keri. I think the chemistry between the two of them is good and getting better but the format seems little changed and I fail to see the point.

That's not to say that I don't like Keri in the morning because I do but I also liked Hec and Mike. I guess as long as Hec is there the format just isn't going to change much, to be fair I don't get to listen to the whole show, so maybe I'm missing some of the 'change'. Bottom line is, if the old show wasn't pulling in the ratings can a few minor changes really make a difference?

Has Mike Moran become a staple of your Thursdays? Is the Bristol County Breakfast Club now part of your mornings? Is WSAR still part of your afternoon drive?
So what is your opinion?




Fall River Children's Museum - An Unfurnished Home


It was several years ago when I first heard that there was a group working to establish a children's museum in Fall River. I was excited. This, I thought, was a great resource for our city. A children's museum would be both a benefit to the children of this city, and a great tool for economic development. It would make Fall River a family destination and tie in wonderfully with Battleship Cove and the Marine Museum.


Today, the museum exists but only as a series of traveling exhibitions. It's board is working to establish a home but also to establish a presence.

Over the years I've mulled over various locations that I thought would be a perfect home. South Main Place, the former Police station, the old Durfee Tech, all these sites have been on my list at one time or another.

So what is a perfect location? Ideally it should be in or near the heart of downtown where it can draw on other nearby attractions and serve as tool for revitalization. It should be someplace with convenient parking, in walking distance to restaurants and shops.

Recently, with the news that a Fall River landmark is closing I'm convinced this is the opportunity for the Children's Museum of Greater Fall River to finally find a home.

After 87 years Modern Furniture is closing their Fall River location. The building which is currently up for sale offers parking and over 27,ooo sq. feet of space. The building has been fairly well maintained and best of all because of it's use as a furniture store it has a very open floor plan.

I'm convinced that this is potentially the best location for the Children's Museum and if there is one downfall it's the 1.2 million asking price. This is where some creative thinking is needed. Perhaps Modern Furniture could lease the building to the Children's Museum with an option to buy? Perhaps the city could purchase the building and lease it to the Children's Museum. Maybe the Office of Economic Development could help secure the funding. Possibly our local delegation could secure some state money for this purpose or help in identifying available grant money for this purpose.

If you've been to a children's museum you can instantly see the benefit they have. The excitement and energy of children experiencing and learning new things. They teach and inspire. It's a place not just for children but for families. Our city needs this, not just for our children and our families but the families that will come here to experience it. These families will make a day of it, visiting Battleship Cove, walking the boardwalk, and visiting our eateries. Establishing our Children's Museum in the Modern Furniture building places it firmly in the Arts Overlay District. It's an area where we want this type of use to flourish. It's an area where we want people to visit and experience.

I truly believe that this could be the cornerstone of a Fall River renaissance, I only hope we don't let this opportunity slip through our fingers.