The city’s school district lost a $196,000 federal grant it received from late senator Frank Lautenberg for Hinchliffe Stadium rehabilitation in late September when the funds prematurely expired, according to district officials.
Rep. Bill Pascrell said he is attempting to recover the funds that the district intended to use for a market analysis and feasibility study. “We’re trying to get that money back. The money was unfairly cut off because of a misunderstanding about dates,” said Pascrell on Monday morning.
The congressman said he has already spoken to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary Julian Castro last week about the $196,000 grant. The district awarded a contract to Retail Development Strategies in June of this year to determine the marketability of the historic stadium which is one of the few remaining places in the country where the legendary Negro League held baseball games in a segregated United States.
The district, which owns the stadium, waited two years to spend the grant money, according to school board members. In late September, as the district attempted to draw down the funds to pay the contractor, it was realized the money was not available, according to officials.
Pascrell did not fault the district for the loss of funds. “I don’t believe the district did anything wrong on this occasion,” he said.
State-appointed district superintendent Donnie Evans had said absent grant money the district incurred some of the costs. He had said the cash-strapped district could not take on the unplanned expense.
Evans said the district spent thousands of dollars on the contract. He did not have an exact number on hand on Monday morning. The superintendent is remaining optimistic the funds will materialize.
Pascrell said he is confident the district will recover the $196,000 grant.
There’s been a prodigious effort to renovate the historic stadium, which was made part of the Great Falls National Park, through congressional action in 2014. Pascrell pushed to expand the boundaries of the national park to include the Great Depression-era Art Deco structure on the corner of Maple and Liberty Streets.
The city council awarded a $1 million contract in June of this year for an architectural study to New York City-based Wank Adams Slavin Associates (WASA) to prepare schematic design and construction documents.
Most recently, the stadium received a $300,000 grant from American Express to preserve two original ticket booths at the entrance of the structure.