PATERSON, NJ – The cost of refurbishing the upper portions of Pennington Park has turned out to be hundreds of thousands of dollars higher than what city officials expected, forcing them to try to find additional money.
The state Green Acres program has allocated a $1.7 million grant and a $1.2 million loan towards the Pennington Park project, while the city has authorized $900,000 in its own loans for the work, according to municipal documents. That’s a total of $3.8 million.
But the initial bids for the work came in higher than that, said city officials. The city needs to come up with at least another $500,000 to cover the cost of the least expensive of the three options being considered for the renovations, said Public Works Director Christopher Coke. That option would entail installing synthetic turf on just one of the three ballfields in the upper park area, he said. The funding gap would grow to more than $1 million if the city put the synthetic turf on all three fields.
In addition to the synthetic turf fields, the plans also called for improved irrigation, the creation of a rubberized exercise oval and various other improvements, officials said.
City officials are looking at their open space funds from Passaic County as one possible place to get the money to move ahead with the project. Coke said the city wants to reallocate unused open space grants that had been earmarked for other projects in Paterson for Pennington Park. He said Paterson’s Community Development Director Lanisha Makle is holding discussions about such a plan with county officials.
“It would be terrible for this project not to go forward,’’ Coke said. “We really don’t have a lot of playing fields available to the youth of the city. We need this.
But Councilman Rigo Rodriguez has expressed concerns about whether Pennington Park would be the best use of the city’s limited funding because the flooding that plagues the area.
“All it takes is one flood to abolish this,’’ Rodriguez said last month during a City Council discussion of the Pennington Park project. “That river has no mercy.’’
Those comments drew a quick rebuke from former councilman Aslon Goow, who was attending the meeting. “We are beyond the 100-year flood,’’ Goow said. “We cannot continue to let that park sit there in the state that it’s in.’’