Recently, the candidates for the First Ward City Council seat attended a forum to discuss their policy positions. With Hinchliffe Stadium sitting in the First Ward, naturally, the safeguarding of this historic ballpark was a topic of discussion.
While all of the candidates were, technically, pro-Hinchliffe Stadium, it was perplexing that current City Councilperson Michael Jackson prefers the current Shared Service Agreement. That agreement has the Paterson Public Schools as deed holder and the City simply as a partner.
What Jackson failed to acknowledge is that the current Shared Services Agreement isn’t really shared at all. At this juncture, the City of Paterson has done all of the leg work to investigate potential funding through public and private sources. Meanwhile, the Paterson Public Schools has acknowledged that they cannot, and will not, focus time or resources toward Hinchliffe Stadium.
It isn’t only the neglect by the school district that is a concern, but the intentional acts over the years, such as: the destruction of historic fabric just to store “educational” trailers, the stadium’s use as a dumping ground for storage containers, school furniture and snow from other parts of town, not to mention the stall tactics by certain members of the Board of Education. The aforementioned does not suggest proper stewardship regardless of any form of “shared” services.
Paterson Times reported that Jackson said: “any move by the city government to retake the stadium from the schools will only engender ill feelings between members of the two bodies.”
Engender ill feelings? What about the “ill feelings” felt by the community in regard to the stadium going from a home for athletes to a home for vagrants? What about the “ill feelings” for the lack of accountability as it pertains to Hinchliffe Stadium? That should be more of a concern than which government entity owns Hinchliffe Stadium.
If “ill feelings” are such a concern, perhaps the Paterson Public Schools can graciously give the stadium back to the City as a gesture of good will? Why didn’t Jackson suggest that option?
Rest assured that if the City of Paterson were to become the sole proprietor of Hinchliffe Stadium, the athletic programs at BOTH Eastside and Kennedy high schools would have priority access to use the stadium. I emphasis both, because it is crucial that the two high school academies have independent athletic programs.
The Paterson Public Schools is an educational institution and should not have to worry about owning and operating a historic sports and entertainment venue, especially since they don’t really seem to want to.
Friends of Hinchliffe Stadium