FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — Mayor Paul Coogan was supposed to deliver his first State of the City address back in March, but the coronavirus derailed those plans.
Instead, Coogan spoke virtually to Fall River residents Monday evening and reflected on this past year.
“I am dedicated to making this city a better place for everyone, especially the hard-working, caring and no-nonsense people who live here, the ones who give it its character, its color and its heart,” Coogan said.
Coogan took office back in January after defeating embattled Mayor Jasiel Correia. He said he never thought his first year as mayor would include navigating the city through a pandemic.
“Although COVID-19 is still an active threat in the city, we have gained PPE, medical knowledge and a response plan that allow us to handle the situation much more smoothly than in March,” he said. “Because of this, and because of the calmer summer months, my administration is now able to focus more of our attention on the issues I ran my campaign on.”
Coogan said he’s committed to replacing deteriorated sidewalks in the city and he continues pushing for cleaner streets, vowing to implement plans to address littering.
Together, he said, citizens can help bring Fall River to its fullest potential.
“We will be working with the Massachusetts Development Agency to strengthen our downtown and attract new businesses to Fall River,” Coogan said. “We are also looking to utilize grant funding in the Flint and East Main Street areas with the goal of reducing store front vacancies and improving infrastructure.”
Coogan also addressed issues which he said are not new to the city, like opioid use, and housing.
“This is a real long-term battle and I know that COVID-19 has not worked in our favor when it comes to matters of addiction,” he said.
As Coogan looks ahead, he vows to take each step with integrity and transparency.
“When I ran for office, I told you that I had no magic wand and that I could not address these issues alone,” he said. “I continue to look to our city council, our school committee, our department heads, our neighborhood associations, our state delegation, our state and federal officials and to all citizens of good will to work with us to improve our very own city on the hill.”
Coogan also gave a construction update on Durfee High School. He said it is set to be completed as scheduled, which is in time for the 2021 school year.