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City Council Votes for Locker Rooms at Cranston Stadium

The vote is to apply for a state grant to offset the cost.

Lockers rooms could be in the cards for Cranston Stadium after the City Council last week voted unanimously to apply for a state recreation grant to help pay for their design and construction.

The grant would give the city matching funds to the tune of about $250,000, said Cranston's Finance Director, Bob Strom, bringing the total cost of the project to about $500,000.

Council members hailed idea as a way for the city to make more money from leasing the stadium to other cities and towns and to boost the local economy with more venues booked throughout the year.

"It's not too often we hit a home run, and we haven't hit one yet here, but it's proof we're close to hitting one," said Cranston City Council President John E. Lanni Jr., who noted the grant was identified and will be applied for with the help of the city's recently-hired grant writer, Ken Filarski.

If the grant goes through, Filarski's salary of about $30,000 will more than pay for itself, Lanni noted. And there was some resistance to hiring a grant writer, just like there was resistance to installing synthetic turf at the stadium a few years ago. The turf has paid off in a big way, with the stadium's maintenance costs going down and bookings from other communities going up.

"Cranston Stadium is a first-class operation and the pride of the community," Lanni said. "It will attract athletic teams from throughout New England if we put in this grant to get showers."

The resolutions sponsor, Councilman Richard Santamaria Jr., said the council had to act fast and cast a vote that night — the deadline for the grant, which is run by the state Department of Environmental Management, is fast approaching and the normal committee review process would take too long.

That ended up being no problem as every council member voted in favor of the application. Still, Councilman Steve Stycos said he wanted to make sure the public had a chance to vet the proposal during a public hearing. And Councilwoman Sarah Lee said she had some concerns about traffic and congestion during sporting events.

To Stycos' concern, Santamaria said "if it looks like we're putting the cart before the horse, we are," since the deadline for the application was looming and the city had to get it in before any lengthy debate. But the city could opt out of the grant program even after applying.

And in terms of traffic, the suggestion from other council members and Filarski himself was that more people in the Park Avenue corridor is a good thing. For starters, Park Avenue is already a highly-trafficked road. Lots of shoppers means more business for local stores.

"The city will get money from the field being leased and vendors get money from people shopping," said Councilman Mario Aceto. "Not only will it be great for taxpayers due to matching grants, but opens us up to have more tournaments so the city will get more money."

Filarski said the grant is designed to expand recreational and commercial opportunities in the city. The stadiums location in the heart of the city near Park Avenue is mentioned in the comprehensive plan as a place for upgraded commercial activity. And upgrading the stadium can give the city an opportunity to make small changes that might actually improve traffic in the area.

"It will undoubtedly drive a lot of business in and around the area of Cranston Stadium not only for retailers, but for service facilities," Filarski said. "The enhancement of the stadium can actually be used for traffic mitigation."
Bob December 03, 2013 at 08:52 AM
Lanni is hitting home runs over here....the only home we'll hit is when you voters do not vote him into office.....Sure let's spend more money we don't have as a city...Roads in deplorable condition, schools falling apart.....infrastructure deteriorating....yeah we're hitting home runs....hey...but at least the secretaries have contracts and the ball field will have locker rooms... Yeah, "We're on the Move" alright

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