Legislators Claim Molinaro Wants To Give Away Dutchess Stadium
In a heated meeting of the Dutchess County Legislature, the County Executive threatened to give up on Dutchess Stadium.
A bipartisan group of legislators rejected the former Gubernatorial candidate's request to approve $2.4M in bonds to replace seats, resurface concrete and repave the parking lot at Dutchess Stadium. The bond fell 4 votes short of the 2/3 majority needed, receiving only 13 votes.
At the meeting, legislators claim Molinaro confirmed a threat he made earlier that the county would abandon the stadium if the improvements were not approved. The Legislature toured the facility and said they did not believe the worn out seats were a safety concern, as the Molinaro administration suggested.
But the main reason legislators say they rejected the plan was that it was proposed so late and was very incomplete. Officials also fear that if the stadium's land lease may not be renewed by voters of the Beacon School District. If this were to happen, the $2.4 million bond to make the improvements would be left for the Dutchess County taxpayers to have to pay for.
Molinaro says the failure to approve the funds makes it impossible to guarantee that it can be used next season. The County Executive says that while Dutchess owns the stadium, "we lease the land from the Beacon City School District. That lease ends on December 31. Our agreement with the Hudson Valley Renegades ends as well. Without the funds to make these repairs we cannot in good conscience extend these agreements."
Legislator Hannah Black from Hyde Park said "We are not suggesting that we walk away from minor league baseball. The Renegades have indicated that they will stay in 2019... We must have a stable and sound plan before us in order to protect the taxpayers from overrun costs with agreements in writing before moving forward."
Molinaro said at the meeting that if it had been up to him there never would have been a stadium in the first place. In a release, county legislators wondered if this might have been Molinaro's plan all along.
Molinaro says this is a mischaracterization of what he said at the meeting. "They're misquoting me. Would we want to be in the stadium business? No, but we are and we have an obligation to maintain the facility. I supported the stadium way back in 1994."
The County Executive says he's the county's "biggest fan" of the stadium and is urging the legislature to reconsider their vote against the repairs. If they don't the county will be forced to turn over the stadium.