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June 20, 2013

Holes in stadium stands

Mayor, council at odds over sports complex repairs

HAVERHILL — The mayor and City Council are at odds over how to come up with $2 million to repair crumbling sections of grandstand and install new lights at Trinity Stadium.

The council and the city’s Stadium Commission, which oversees the sports complex on Lincoln Avenue, want Mayor James Fiorentini to apply for stadium renovation money from a state program called Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities, or PARC for short.

The grant program can provide up to $400,000 a year for eligible projects. The deadline to apply for the next round of awards is July 17.

City Councilor William Ryan, the council’s representative on the Stadium Commission, urged Fiorentini this week to seek the state grant for the stadium.

“It’s not only a tremendous asset, but it generates revenue for the city,” Ryan said of the 77-year-old complex, formerly called Haverhill Stadium. “It should be our top priority until it’s finished.”

Fiorentini said he plans to file several application for PARC grant money, but not for the stadium.

The mayor said he wants PARC money to make improvements to Winnekenni Park and for the new rail trail the city is developing on the Bradford side of the Merrimack River, opposite the downtown. Fiorentini also indicated he does not believe the state would allow PARC grant money to be used to repair a stadium.

“It’s for parks, not stadiums,” the mayor said. “The state would not allow it.

“No one wants to see the stadium finished more than me,’’ he said. “But I don’t want to raise the public’s expectations for the stadium. I prefer to under-promise and over-deliver.”

Ryan didn’t like the mayor’s response. He told Fiorentini to apply for the money and then blame the council and Stadium Commission if the grant is rejected.

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