Rival Baldelli-Hunt reacts to Woonsocket Mayor Fontaine's economic development plan

Rival Baldelli-Hunt reacts to Woonsocket Mayor Fontaine's economic development plan

WOONSOCKET – Lisa Baldelli-Hunt, a candidate for the mayoral seat in Woonsocket, reacted to a presentation on economic development put out this week by her political rival Mayor Leo Fontaine, questioning the timing of the plan.

Fontaine said he hopes to utilize the newly reactivated Redevelopment Agency, a city board given broad power to target blight under state law, to target zones throughout the city for investment.

"After being left dormant for almost nine years, it was good to see the Woonsocket Redevelopment Agency getting back to work in terms of bolstering Woonsocket’s depressed economy," said Baldelli-Hunt. "But hearing their proposals raises the question 'Why did the Mayor wait until six days before the primary to come up with an economic development plan?' This is an administration that has been asleep at the wheel when it comes to bringing businesses and jobs to our city."

One aspect of the mayor's six point plan calls for development along two entrances, or 'gateways' to the city, as a mean to improve Woonsocket's image.

Baldelli-Hunt said that as a state representative, she's been urging city officials to clean up blighted neighborhoods for years, and that many of Fontaine's plans were adopted from her ideas.

"I’ve pushed for 'Gateway Enhancement' type projects to revitalize key entry points to our city," she said. "I’ve been talking economic development for the last nine months. And now six days before the primary, the Mayor is finally interested in doing something? It’s good to hear Mayor Fontaine jump on the bandwagon and adopt the ideas I’ve put forward, but the fact is he had every opportunity to enact these plans years ago and chose to do nothing."

She said that as a result, too many businesses have left Woonsocket, and there have been too many blighted properties and people who don’t feel safe walking the streets in their neighborhoods.

"Releasing grand plans and ambitious programs in an election year is easy," she said. "Doing the work to make things happen is what matters—that’s what people want to see. The reality is that this mayor hasn’t even been able to keep the streetlights on in our neighborhoods. How are we going to bring businesses to Woonsocket if we can’t even keep the lights on?"

Baldelli-Hunt said that as mayor, she would hit the ground running to start cleaning up neighborhoods, bringing businesses to the city, and helping existing businesses stay and thrive.

"I’ve laid out a plan to do just that, starting my first day in office," she said. "It involves turning the streetlights back on, taking a serious approach to targeting blight in our neighborhoods, and making economic development my top priority. That means taking advantage of every opportunity to promote Woonsocket and to reaching out to state and regional business leaders to highlight what our city has to offer."