PATERSON, NJ - Paterson’s historic Hinchliffe Stadium could get a new lease on life if members of the Paterson City Council approve a new lease agreement between the city and the Paterson Board of Education.
The body is expected to vote on the measure at their Tuesday meeting.
While a similar proposal failed to garner enough support when previously presented to the legislative body the tone of the conversation at last week’s workshop meeting was a more positive one.
Baye Adofo Wilson, the lead developer on the proposed project, started his presentation by saying that the project, thanks to the “creativity, guidance, and suggestions” of the Council’s economic development committee is “substantially better.”
Unlike a previous iteration, Wilson explained, the overall development will now include the construction of a childcare facility and the proposed housing will be restricted to senior citizen living, both critical needs in the heavily congested area where the city’s First and Second Wards come together.
In addition to the playing surface and track designed to accommodate a number of sports the 7800 seat stadium will also include restaurant and exhibit space.
While Councilwoman-at-Large Lilissa Mimms questioned many of the financial aspects of the project Joe Portelli of RPM Group spoke of the commitment of the developers to lay out as much as $6 million of their own money “to get the project moving,” and Council President Maritza Davila clarified that no city money is to be used for the project.
Under questioning from Fifth Ward Councilman Luis Velez. Portelli acknowledged that they will be back before the legislative body seeking a tax abatement for the construction of the six-story, 75 unit living space.
Third Ward Councilman Bill McKoy also referred to it as a “strengthened plan” suggesting it would be better still if it included an aquatic complex, and First Ward Councilman Mike Jackson, who has never been shy about being the most vocal opponent of project to come before him, was forceful in his questioning of anticipated construction costs, as well as the impact on the area surrounding the project.
“The developers are trying to make money,” 6th Ward Councilman Al Abdelaziz offered, perhaps in an attempt to draw the conversation to a close. “It’s our job to make sure the project will benefit the city.”
With the presentation completed Davilla opened the meeting up to public comments, drawing an impassioned plea from former Mayor Pat Kramer who asked when casting their votes the councilmembers consider “what the stadium did for so many people.”
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to make something big happen, not just for Hinchliffe but for that entire neighborhood,” Paterson Director of Economic Development Mike Powell has said previously. “We can make this project a catalyst to additional investment not just in the Great Falls area but across the city, it’s an opportunity too good to pass up.”
“Do the homework you’re doing,” Kramer suggested before suggesting that the project can’t stall again. “It’s vital. People are tired of hearing what’s going to happen. Make it happen.”
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