NEW BEDFORD — City councilors reacted to the recent announcement of developing part of the Whaling City Golf Course into a business park during Tuesday's meeting with calls of greater transparency.

Councilor at Large Brian Gomes is requesting city officials and stakeholders gather to discuss the details of the proposed idea.

Gomes said while he isn't against the idea of a business park, he's concerned over how it's been rolled out.

"I think this thing was prematurely put forth," said Gomes. "I think that the concrete work should have been done so that when we stood before everyone in a press conference, this was a plan of action."

Gomes said he was also skeptical about increased tax revenue and jobs, as well as future costs to taxpayers.

Last week, Mayor Jon Mitchell announced possible plans for the redevelopment that could generate over 1,000 jobs and $2 million in annual tax revenue.

Ward 5 Councilor Hugh Dunn agreed with most councilors that the transparency has been lacking and all stakeholders should have some say in the matter.

"If we had a comprehensive briefing, I think people would feel a lot more comfortable with the project and I can't stress enough that as we go forward that residents have to be engaged every step of the way," Dunn said.

While most councilors spoke on the issue, mostly agreeing the city could use an additional business park though believe it could be in a different location, Councilor at Large Debora Coelho didn't speak on the topic during the meeting.

After the meeting, Coelho said she hasn't been hearing much opposition from residents and believes it could be a good investment on behalf of the city.

"Everyone I speak to out there is standing behind the mayor, I'm not getting some of these calls so I have to stand by what I believe is in the best interest for the city," said Coelho.

Mitchell said last week that there is no "done deal" yet and there is still likely a few years of surveying and other studies by MassDevelopment before anything gets put in motion.


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