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Haverhill

November 26, 2013

Stadium wins $400K for repairs

New lights, better grandstand coming after political struggle

HAVERHILL — City Council was right, and the stadium is about to reap the rewards.

Haverhill has received $400,000 to replace old and poor lighting and repair the worst of several crumbling sections of grandstand at Trinity Stadium. The money is coming from the state’s Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities program —PARC for short.

High school Athletic Director Tom O’Brien, who is also chairman of the Stadium Commission, has said the facility is so poorly illuminated that he no longer allows lacrosse games to be played there at night and that there is “barely enough light to meet the requirements for baseball.” The commission oversees the 77-year-old sports complex on Lincoln Avenue, formerly called Haverhill Stadium.

The city’s application for the money was the source of political tension during the summer, when Councilor William Ryan and the rest of the council pushed Mayor James Fiorentini to seek the grant.

At the time, the mayor said he was not sure the stadium would qualify for the program and that he was considering applying for a PARC grant for other projects. He mentioned the need for improvements to Winnekenni Park and the rail trail recreational pathway the city is developing on the Bradford side of the Merrimack River opposite downtown.

In June, Ryan strongly urged the mayor to apply for the PARC grant for the stadium and then blame the council and Stadium Commission if the application was rejected.

“We are all on record that this is what we want,” Ryan told the mayor at the June meeting. “You’ll be off the hook if it’s rejected. All you have to do is submit the application.”

Fiorentini responded that he didn’t want to be “off the hook.” After the back-and-forth between Ryan and the mayor, the council voted 9-0 to ask the mayor to apply for the grant for the stadium.

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