EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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June 25, 2013

Mayor: Councilors didn't do homework on stadium grant

Email suggests they should have known state grant can't be used for stadium repairs

HAVERHILL — Mayor James Fiorentini said he has received confirmation that Trinity Stadium does not qualify for a state program that provides up to $400,000 a year for improvements to public parks and recreational areas.

And he forwarded an email to The Eagle-Tribune that suggests all nine city councilors should have known that too — before they voted unanimously last week to push him to apply for a Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities grant, PARC for short, in the name of the Lincoln Avenue sports complex.

Since 2006, the state has provided about $3 million for stadium work, most of it to repair two of the five grandstand sections, fix structural problems and to replace the grass field with artificial turf.

But at least another $2 million is needed to repair crumbling sections of the stadium grandstand and install new lights, city officials said.

High school Athletic Director Tom O’Brien, who is also chairman of the Stadium Commission, 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, formerly called Haverhill Stadium.

At last week’s council meeting, Councilor William Ryan strongly urged the mayor to apply for the PARC grant and then blame the council and Stadium Commission if the application is rejected.

“We are all on record that this is what we want,” Ryan told the mayor. “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 Fiorentini to apply for the grant for stadium repairs.

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