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Morelle says grant money for Frontier Field hasn't been used, County disputes claims

(WHAM photo)

Rochester, N.Y. - Assemblyman Joseph Morelle said Monday that Monroe County has not claimed or used the $1.5 million capital grant that was awarded by New York State in 2014 for renovations at Frontier Field. The County disputes his claim.

A spokesperson for the County says it has already spent approximately $1.3 million on upgrades to Frontier Field under the terms of the grant program. Those improvements include a new pedestrian bridge, lighting enhancements, steel restoration and safety netting.

The County also says it has until April, 2021 to seek full reimbursement for the $1.5 million grant through Empire State Development.

Morelle made the allegation after he says he was reviewing opportunities for state funding for improvements at Frontier Field.

This came after Morelle sent a letter to Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo and Rochester Community Baseball, Inc. president Naomi Silver in January regarding the Frontier Field lease negotiations.

Discussions about who will be responsible for paying for the needed maintenance at the baseball stadium is part of the ongoing lease negotiations. $6 million in upgrades is needed, which can't be considered without a long-term lease.

Morelle's full statement can be seen below.

"As I continue to review opportunities for state funding for facility improvements at Frontier Field it has been brought to my attention that the County has yet to claim and utilize a $1.5 million capital grant awarded by the state in 2014 for renovations and upgrades at the baseball stadium."
“I find this revelation particularly troubling as the need for maintenance at the baseball stadium, and discussions regarding who will be responsible for the associated costs remains an important component to the on-going lease negotiations between the County and Red Wings."
“Certainly, utilizing these funds for needed renovations at Frontier Field would result in a reduction of the overall cost burden associated with the identified maintenance and upgrades, ultimately bringing the two negotiating parties closer to a final long-term lease agreement."
“I believe taxpayers deserve an explanation from the County as to why, yet again, funding critical to our community has gone unclaimed and unused."

A spokesperson for Monroe County released the following statement in response to Morelle:

"It’s bad enough that Majority Leader Morelle is playing politics with the future of baseball in Rochester, but worse yet he’s simply wrong. The County has already spent approximately $1.3 million on upgrades to Frontier Field under the terms of this grant program, including a new pedestrian bridge, lighting enhancements, steel restoration, safety netting, and other improvements. The County has until April of 2021 to seek reimbursement in full for the $1.5 million grant through Empire State Development. The County takes great pride in its attractive, fan-welcoming stadium and will continue to maintain it to the highest standards under a new long-term lease with the team moving forward."
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