The city council on Tuesday deferred approving a change order to fund a study to determine whether the Hinchliffe Stadium’s southern boundary can be extended to include a regulation size track at the stadium.
The change order would cost the city an additional 12-percent in cost on top of the current $338,000 for the partial rehabilitation and stabilization of the stadium. The change order of $42,000 would increase the city’s contract cost with well-respected New York architectural and engineering firm Wank Adams Slavin Associates (WASA) to $380,000.
William McKoy, 3rd Ward councilman, inquired of the 12.43-percent increase. Public works committee chairman Domingo “Alex” Mendez responded: “It’s extension of the work at the stadium.”
“How would that affect the stabilization?” asked McKoy. An addled Mendez, councilman at-large, did not have an answer.
“If you don’t have the money to rehab the rest of the stadium why would you spend it on the extension of the track?” asked McKoy rhetorically. McKoy pointed out nearby Pennington Park to be a much better site for track than the stadium.
Brian LoPinto of the Friends of Hinchliffe Stadium concurred with McKoy stating that the small increase in the contract with the engineering firm will provide a study, but actually extending the stadium may cost millions of dollars.
LoPinto suggested the use of the park for track.
The city presently does not have enough money for a full restoration. In fact, during a visioning exercise in March, it was pointed out that a full restoration of the stadium would cost at minimum $44 million, a hefty sum.
“Why the change, if we knew, that the track was not regulation size?” asked council president Julio Tavarez, 5th Ward.
During a presentation before the Historic Preservation Commission in June engineers working on the stadium informed a small group of, mainly advocates and interested parties, that the stadium was not big enough for a 400 meter track.
The group expressed their concerns. Some said it made no sense to have a track that was not regulation size, for even if professional athletics were placed aside, the city’s youth, if the school system intends to use it to hold high school sports, will be handicapped in competitions during practice by a deceptive track.
Engineers suggested one way to extend and fit a regulation size track in the stadium is by extending the southern boundary of the stadium. The change order would study a possible extension of the stadium.
“Let’s send this back to committee to hash this out and come back with more information,” said Tavarez, seeing the large number of unanswered questions.
By sending the resolution back to the public works committee, the council will not be voting on approving the change order during its next meeting, rather it will come up during the council’s August workshop meeting.
“There isn’t a time sensitivity,” added Sayegh.