After locals balked, Dutchess County decided there are better uses for millions of dollars in federal funds than improving the home of the New York Yankees’ local minor league affiliate.
Building homes for people, to be specific.
The county has diverted $9.5 million originally intended for upgrades to Dutchess Stadium in Wappingers Falls, home of the Class-A Hudson Valley Renegades, the Times Union reported. The county previously allocated $12.5 million in federal American Rescue Plan funding for the stadium, but most of those funds will instead go toward local housing.
The pivot, according to the Times Union, came after County Executive Marc Molinaro’s plan to allocate more than one-fifth of the county’s $57 million in ARP funds to the stadium drew pushback from community members.
County comptroller Robin Lois noted that while $12.5 million was allocated for the stadium, only $1.7 million was earmarked for water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.
Molinaro, a former Republican candidate for governor, said that any improvements to the stadium will need to be delayed because of rising costs tied to inflation. The county has until the end of 2024 to spend the federal funds, and Molinaro, citing the stadium’s importance as a tourism destination, told the newspaper that upgrades to the venue could be revisited later in the year.
A lack of housing is becoming a problem in Dutchess County, where inventory dropped 44 percent last year, according to Houlihan Lawrence’s fourth-quarter report. The median sale price for a home in the country was $396,000 in the fourth quarter, up 7 percent year-over-year.
The county has also proposed allocating a further $3.5 million from its own budget toward housing to complement the ARP funds. An additional $7 million from ARP will be used for homeless housing and services, according to the Times Union.
“This should have been the case from the get-go,” Dutchess County Minority Leader Yvette Valdés Smith told the newspaper.
[Times-Union] — Holden Walter-Warner