After the city’s school district failed to conduct a market study due to a federal grant loss, the municipal government on Wednesday night approved funding to continue the same market study for Hinchliffe Stadium.
Council members approved $103,000 to continue the market study with the same company — Retail Development Strategies – that received the school board contract last year.
The school board ended up cancelling the study after the $196,000 federal grant was lost as the district attempted to draw down the funds just days before expiration.
Economic development director Ruben Gomez said the city negotiated the reduced price for the study. He said the reduced price means the city will assist the company in conducting the study.
The funds for the city’s contract comes from $200,000 it received when New Jersey took legal action against Classic Sanitation and Recycling New York for non-compliant waste disposal at Mary Ellen Kramer Park.
The rest of the money, $97,000, will be used for Phase II construction document and construction administration project at the stadium that was awarded last summer, according to city records.
Although all council members agreed the stadium needs to be restored and brought back online, not everyone agreed to conduct the study.
We’re placing the cart before the horse, said Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large. “I’ve not seen any progress report on the stadium,” he said.
Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres has said he wants to see the stadium rehabilitated before his term ends.
Morris said it did not make sense to conduct a market study when the stadium is in disrepair. Gomez added that the study is more like a business plan for a start-up.
The study will determine potential revenue generation capacity for the city stadium. It can also be used to raise funds to rehabilitate the historic stadium.
Morris also said the school district, which owns the building, is not doing enough. He wanted the district to be an equal partner in rehabilitating the stadium. “They are just going to sit back and let us spend the money,” he said.
The stadium will help revitalize that section of the city, said council members. “Hinchliffe Stadium can’t wait any longer,” said Andre Sayegh, 6th Ward councilman. He said the stadium has been abandoned for almost 20 years.
Council members approved the funds to conduct the study.