Former Fall River mayor, John M. Arruda recently passes away at the age of 90. I did not learn of this by reading the glowing tributes to him in the Herald News. In fact I could not even find a single mention of this on the Herald News. No, instead I learned it by coming across a letter to the editor that was published on SouthCoastToday.com.
It's rather disappointing and pretty sad (in a pathetic sort of way) that the Herald News didn't cover this. Where are the retrospectives, the career highlights, the timeline and the tributes?
Mayor Arruda certainly shaped Fall River's future in one key event. When Rt. 195 was being built with its path going right through the middle of the city, it was Arruda who worked to secure the air rights above the highway to build a replacement city hall above the roadway. The idea was that the new city hall would be located in the same location as the old city hall and help reunite the city, literally divided by the highway. Today the decision to build Government Center is often ridiculed but the reality is, it was built over a dozen years after Arruda left office. Whatever problems have plagued the building is the fault of a different mayor.
In a way I wish I had taken the opportunity to search out and speak with Mayor Arruda. It would have been fascinating to speak to the last Mayor of Fall River to preside over a city that wasn't dissected by highways. It would have been interesting to find out what he wishes he had done differently and what accomplishments he was most proud of.