Council meets amid rift between administration, authority

RRA director resigns, citing toxic atmosphere

Video report by WFMZ's Tom Rader

READING, Pa. - The public comment period of the Reading City Council meeting had plenty of reaction to the changes coming to the Reading Redevelopment Authority.

"No one just gets up and goes and runs away when things are starting to happen," said Robert Melendez, a Reading property owner. "People normally stand and fight and figure out what's going on."

Executive Director Adam Mukerji announced Monday that he will step down March 16 after nearly 18 years on the job.

"The ultimate was the toxic environment, the unfounded allegations and innuendos of the mayor and his administration," Mukerji told 69 News earlier in the day Monday. "We have provided documentation for every economic development project that we have been involved in."

At the forefront is a state and federal investigation requested by members of city council.

"I wrote the initial letter. My initial intentions were: I don't need any headaches. OK? We don't need any headaches," said Councilman Stratton Marmarou, a Democrat who represents the city's 4th District. "All I want to know is, was it done properly? If not, let's not do it again and get in trouble."

The turmoil stems from the authority's efforts to move some of its files from City Hall to a location at Third and Spruce streets. Murkeji said the files that were moved were closed.

"They thought we were taking files out to be destroyed," Mukerji said.

Glenn Steckman, the city's managing director, said the files did include one that's still open — involving the Buttonwood Gateway from Our City Reading, an organization backed by the Boscov family.

"The city controls those documents," Steckman said. "Those files are still there."

That's also been cited by the mayor's office, along with the parking garage at the DoubleTree Hotel and others, for which the city claims bills aren't being properly collected.

"The city is taking a look back at these contracts that were negotiated and whether the city and its agencies negotiated the best deal," Steckman said.

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