ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Funding for Coca-Cola Park and the Da Vinci Science Center split Wednesday night among members of the Allentown City Council.
The Council voted 4-3 to put two amendments to the US Relief Plans Act of 2022 on the agenda for the September 28 Budget and Finance Committee meeting.
The proposal would send $1.5 million to Coca-Cola Park for the renovations Major League Baseball needs and $1.5 million to the Da Vinci Science Center, which broke ground on a new three-story, 67,000-square-foot science museum downtown. is. A corner of Hamilton Street.
The Council previously referred the proposal to a special committee on July 20th.
City councilors Ce-Ce Gerlach, Ed Zucal and Natalie Santos voted against Wednesday night.
Gerlach questioned why ARPA’s funding process was not followed for the two allocations.
“We had community experts testify, and we learned from the community that homelessness is a big problem,” Gerlach said, referring to a meeting where the council had to discuss the use and distribution of ARPA funds.
“We learned from the community that public safety is a big issue,” continued Gerlach. “We’ve learned from the community that it’s a big issue for young people to do things, and yet we’re working on those two items again.”
Gerlach said he didn’t understand why the two proposed allocations for Coca-Cola Park and the Da Vinci Science Center would come up before spending money to solve community problems.
“These are the first two items that we decided to allocate funds in the first place,” says Gerlach. “Not unprotected, gun violence prevention, affordable housing, youth centers. Why do we have these two items? It’s much bigger than anything.”
Alderman Joshua Siegel said both projects are out-of-the-box and important to the community.
“I respect that process, but it’s a time constraint,” says Siegel. “I think it’s a worthwhile investment.”
Major League Baseball is requiring associated minor baseball stadiums to undergo renovations to meet standards by the start of the 2023 season.
Alderman Candida Affa said MLB is holding the city hostage.
“I don’t want to be the alderman who saw Coca-Cola Park and the (Iron) Pig leave the city of Allentown,” Afa said. “I think it’s very important.”
However, Afa noted that the proposed allocation is currently only a matter of discussion for the budget and finance committee, and the final decision may not necessarily be the recommended allocation.
The Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund, part of ARPA, has allocated a total of $57 million to the city. The funds will be used for the city’s response and recovery from COVID-19. More than half of the funding (about $29 million) has been allocated by the city council for 2021.
Council members said items that address community needs will be addressed and will receive ARPA funding.