Alfred J. Lima, a longtime FRHS member, is being recognized for his work with numerous community organizations in which he has served in various capacities, and for his tireless efforts in historical research and publications, preservation, and conservation of the natural environment.
A Fall River native, Al’s professional work includes forty-three years as a city planner and consultant for towns such as Concord, Massachusetts, and cities such as New Bedford.
Educated at UMASS Amherst earning a degree in Landscape Architecture, Al also holds graduate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania in City Planning and from Harvard University in Education.
Al was part of SAVE (Save Architecturally Valued Edifices) Inc., a group formed to prevent the demolition of the former Central Congregational Church; he was also involved in preventing the demolition of Broadview, the former home of Sarah Brayton on Highland Avenue.
Al was the leader of the city-wide campaign to pass the Community Preservation Act in Fall River; as a result, more than $1 million in annual income is now available for the restoration of historic properties, and the preservation of recreational and open space in the city.
Among his environmental accomplishments was a leadership role in the creation of the Southeastern Massachusetts Bio-reserve, a 15,000-acre preserve within the City of Fall River. He played a key role in the Quequechan River Rail Trail, is working on other bike path projects, and was involved in the creation of Highland Park and the renovation of Fr. Travassos Park.
Al has been involved in the closing of two polluted power plants in Somerset, was a leader in the effort to prevent the Liquified Natural Gas terminal from locating in the city, and was instrumental in getting the Municipal Incinerator permanently closed.
A noted historian, he has written three books: A River and Its City: The Influence of the Quequechan River on the Development of Fall River, Massachusetts; America’s Voices: An Oral History of Fall River, Massachusetts from 1900 to 1950; and Preserving Community Character: A Citizen’s Guide to Saving Place and Halting Urban Sprawl.
He is currently involved in the effort to daylight the Quequechan River, as well as in efforts to create new bike paths, including the Mount Hope Greenway to Tiverton, Rhode Island.
Al has made it clear that these accomplishments took place with the assistance of many others. He did not – and could not – do it alone. A recent illness caused him to have several strokes; while this may have stopped others, he continued his efforts.
One of Al’s favorite quotes is from E.B. White: “I arise in the morning torn between the desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”