POUGHKEEPSIE – The Dutchess County Legislature voted to approve a $1.4 million bond for upgrades to Dutchess Stadium on Monday night. Only two legislators, Giancarlo Llaverias and Kristofer Munn, both Democrats, voted against the spending plan.
Munn would have liked to see a vote put off for a month until it is clear what the newest federal COVID-19 relief package will include.
“Just a couple of months ago we made significant cuts to the budget to fill a budget cap in the name of fiscal responsibility including a 15 percent cut to the health department staff in the middle of a pandemic, 10 percent cut to the department of community and family services,” he said. “I opposed the budget that made those cuts, but now, two months later, we are being asked to vote to put aside $1.4 million now for the stadium improvements, and really we are putting ourselves on the hook for $10 million for whatever the consultants design in terms of improvements.” Munn did not speak on the record at Monday’s meeting, choosing instead to issue his statement in a release after the meeting adjourned.
The largest portion of the newest investment in the county park covered by the bond is $994,000 to replace the existing 30-year-old lights with energy-efficient LED lighting. All of the improvements covered under the bond are mandated by Minor League Baseball. Stadiums across the country that do not make the improvements will not be permitted to host minor league ball games.
Chairman Gregg Pulver had encouraged his colleagues to vote in favor of the bond because the New York Yankees could move their farm team to Dutchess Stadium, drawing even more visitors. Minor League Baseball has also increased the number of home games played by the Hudson Valley Renegades from 38 games under the short season to 70 games when baseball resumes.
“The arrival of the New York Yankees speaks volumes to the expert way in which this County is operated,” said Pulver. “Through adequate future funding, we will ensure that our stadium remains the crown jewel of our impressive park system. Dutchess is already an amazing place to live-work-play and we will continue in the same vein. Go Yankees!”
Legislator Llaverias refused to vote for the plan because he felt the money could be better spent elsewhere. “I voted against the bond tonight because spending close to $1 million on lights can be better used for outreach and engaging our youth, both black and Latino, for a youth center, helping small local businesses, and supporting grassroots organizations that are providing services to those severely underserved.” Llaverias also refrained from speaking against the plan during the meeting.
County Executive Marc Molinaro was appreciative of the support of the legislature for this series of improvements. “We are so grateful for the bipartisan support that will make this investment in Dutchess Stadium. This is a big win for County taxpayers, baseball fans, and the County!” Molinaro, a fan of the New York Mets, took a moment to address the cross-town rival of his team. “We look forward to welcoming this new partnership with Yankees and the next successful chapter with our Hudson Valley Renegades.”