Havre de Grace and Harford County Public School officials testified this week before the Harford County Council that a project to improve Harris Stadium was funded in phases and did not violate the county’s procurement process.
In June, the Harford County Board of Education was allocated $1 million by the county to make improvements to the Havre de Grace High School stadium to bring it up to standard with other stadiums in the county. The upgrades included building a field house and referee room, improving the concessions area, and adding flagpoles, a planter and concrete pad for a future statue.
“The project came slightly over budget” when the school system bid it out over the summer, Cornell Brown, assistant superintendent for Harford County Schools, said at the county council’s Nov. 13 meeting.
To account for the difference, Harford County Public Schools formally asked the county for an additional $313,770, presented to the County Council as a resolution at its Oct. 16 meeting.
Several council members expressed concern that work had begun off Juniata Street prior to the resolution's approval.
“We had some confusion over how the project could move forward without the appropriation,” Harford County Council President William Boniface said at the recent council meeting.
There was no vote on the request at the council's October meeting and any project more than $100,000 must be prequalified before it is bid out and approved, according to the Harford County Charter, which provides guidelines on procurement.
Brown explained that the school system works under a different budgeting process. His team broke out portions of the project into items that could be funded before getting the additional money needed from the county.
“We ended up …developing a strategy…that would allow us to pick the different parts of the project we would be able to fund," Brown said.
One council member was not satisfied with the response.
"It seems like you’ve got the cart before the horse here. Did you approve something before you got approval for the funding? I’m confused,” Councilman Dion F. Guthrie said.
"If you didn’t get the additional funding, where would you be?” Guthrie asked.
Brown said that without the additional $300,000, the stadium would "move forward," but without brick entryway paving, flagpoles, the concrete pad and planter, and without fencing for the field house.
From the council and in the audience, there was testimony in support of Havre de Grace proceeding with a project that had been protracted and toward which the community had donated money and time.
“The community of Havre de Grace raised over a million dollars for the project themselves, so there is a major contribution that came from the community,” Councilwoman Mary Ann Lisanti said, noting the project had been in the works for a decade. “The mayor and City Council of Havre de Grace also waived water and sewer fees and other inspection fees.”
In fact, Mayor Wayne Dougherty, Police Chief Teresa Walter and City Councilman David Glenn attended the Nov. 13 meeting in Bel Air as a show of support.
“We had countless volunteers dedicate their time and effort with their in-kind services throughout the various stages of the process, [from] prepping the area for pouring of concrete slabs [to] the actual assembly of visitors’ side bleachers,” Glenn said, speaking during the time for public comment.
"It is this type of community spirit and Warrior pride that makes us one of the best kept secrets in Harford County. But now we need your help. We need you to approve the funding for the final stages of this worthwhile project," Glenn said. "...a yes vote....will reinforce..that the tireless dedication of the Havre de Grace community didn’t go unnoticed."
The Harford County Council is scheduled to vote on the resolution at its Nov. 20 meeting.
- County Begins Tearing Down Old Harris Field
- $1.134 M in Improvements OK’d for Harris Stadium
- Craig Says Field HHS Field House in Planning Stages
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