PATERSON, NJ - Hinchliffe Stadium, one of a handful of stadiums from the old Negro Leagues that are still standing, may get $500,000 for repairs in under state historic preservation grant.
The Christie administration on Wednesday announced plans to award $10 million in grants to 58 projects around the state, including three in Paterson.
In addition to Hinchliffe, Christie wants to give $180,000 to the SUM Great Falls Power Plant and $50,000 for the old Paterson post office.
The list of recommended sites was approved by the New Jersey Historic Trust Board of Trustees at a meeting on Wednesday today, according to the goveror's press release. The list will now go before the Garden State Preservation Trust on May 4 for ratification and then move on to the state Legislature for approval.
"I hope that Patersonians near and far are grateful to the New Jersey Historic Trust for seeing the value of a restored Hinchliffe Stadium,'' said Brian LoPinto of Friends of Hinchliffe Stadium. " Our beloved ballpark is one of only three remaining Negro League stadiums in the United States, which is an important part of African-American history. Hinchliffe Stadium's history is nationally significant, but what it can do locally, for future generations, is equally important.''
The Friends of Hinchliffe Stadium submitted an application for this grant, said LoPinto. The group was inspired to aply for the grant in the wake of the National Trust for Historic Preservation naming Hinchliffe Stadium one of "America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places," he said."
Hinchliffe Stadium, in conjunction with the Great Falls National Park, will serve as a catalyst for a revitalized Paterson,'' LoPinto said. "We are appreciative to Paterson Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Donnie Evans for giving his blessing to seek out this grant. I have a strong feeling that Larry Doby is smiling upon Hinchliffe and the City of Paterson."
The city still needs to raise millions of dollars more to renovate Hincliffe, which has been closed for more than a decade and continues to fall into disrepair, partly because it became a haven for squatters.
Earlier this month, the city council voted to borrow $2.25 million to begin the renovation process on Hinchliffe and to make repairs on Bauerle Field.
Sitting on the crest of a hill overlooking the city, Hinchliffe is crumbling and overgrown with weeds. It stands as a haunting reminder of the Silk City's heyday and municipal official see its eventual reopening as part of Paterson's rebirth.
A bond ordinance approved on March 30, will provide about $1 million for architectural work and engineering studies on Hinchliffe. It also will pay for preliminary work, including improved security to prevent people who are homeless from continuing to use it as a place to stay, officials said.
In 2009, city voters overwhelmingly approved a $15 million bond referendum that included about $11.5 million put towards Hinchliffe stadium, $1.2 million towards Baurele field and the rest of the money going to renovating the Paterson Armory.
The engineering studies will determine exactly how much renovations will cost.
Built in the early 1930s near the Great Fallls, the stadium is named after the mayor at that time, John Hinchliffe. the stadium hosted Negro League games when baseball was segregated and had been the scene of generations of high school football games until it shut down because of disrepair in the late 1990s. Hinchliffe also has hosted boxing and auto racing. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places.
Patersonians have heard talk about Hinchliffe Stadium’s renovation for years. And the bond ordinance approved in early April had been in limbo for five months as city officials struggled with their fiscal crisis. The state refused to sign off on the stadium bonds until after the city council approved a balanced budget.
The $1.2 million for immediate repairs to Bauerle Field will have more immediate impact on city sports life. The boar's artificial turf, where problems with the field threatened to force the cancelation of next fall's high school football and soccer season, like tears in the seams.