By Alana Melanson, amelanson@sentinelandenterpris e.com
Posted: 03/21/2013 06:37:55 AM EDT
SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / BRETT CRAWFORD Paul Fontaine, a former city councilor and Fitchburg Redevelopment Authority director, hopes to put his experience to work on the Fitchburg Housing Authority.
FITCHBURG -- Paul Fontaine believes his experience in both the business and political realms will help him to work with the Fitchburg Housing Authority to develop and implement a plan to turn the body that oversees the city's subsidized housing around.
Fontaine, 63, has been in the real estate business for 36 years, and has experience in financial and administrative management. He owns and operates Century Appraisal, a residential appraisal and consulting firm, and Fontaine Real Estate School, which provides education for licensing and continuing education for real estate professionals, both of which are located on South Street.
Mayor Lisa Wong, who appointed Fontaine to the FHA board, said his property and real estate background are invaluable, and no other member on the board shares his area of expertise. Fontaine is Wong's second new appointment to the board, followed by former ward Councilor Linda Byrne in January. Both appointments were approved unanimously by the City Council.
"I understand there's a serious vacancy problem with the current housing stock they have with Fitchburg Housing Authority properties. That's concerning to me," Fontaine said. "If I can transpose some of my everyday business experience to the public sector to see if I can do something to make it a better place, that's what I intend to offer."
Fontaine served three terms as city councilor at-large in the 1990s, four years of which he served alongside Byrne. He also served as
chairman of the Planning Board for three years and was chairman of the Fitchburg Redevelopment Authority board for four of his five years serving on the board in the early to mid-2000s.
It was there that Wong met Fontaine, while she was director of the FRA prior to becoming mayor.
During Fontaine's time on the FRA board, they tackled numerous projects around the city, from creating industrial parks to transforming the former General Electric building on Boulder Drive to the "first class office space" now known as Putnam Place, he said. They also built a $1 million space there for the Registry of Deeds, Fontaine said. But he considers the centerpiece of his work with the FRA to be the North Street corridor.
"We transformed a very blighted area into a fantastic boulevard entrance for the college," he said.