The $1.5 million bond issue proposed by Mayor Carolyn Kirk to help put the effort for a new Newell Stadium over the financial top will be aired tonight before the City Council's Budget and Finance Committee.
"The reward for three years of austerity, the hard work we have all put into closing the deficits, and getting the fiscal house in order, is that the city is in a stronger position to give back to the community in important ways," the mayor said.
After the hearing — set for 6 p.m. in City Hall's council conference room — the committee will make a recommendation to the full council, which must hold a public hearing and support the project with a two-thirds majority to authorize the borrowing.
The Gloucester Fishermen's Athletic Association, which helps athletes pay for the privilege of joining teams, has spearheaded the overall $3.5 million drive, which will provide a new field and track along with new stands and restrooms.
The GFAA has raised more than $100,000 from private sources for the so-called Newell Renewal project. The GFAA's primary fund-raising effort, aimed at generating $1 million, relies on having 1,000 people pledge $200 each a year for five years.
Kirk and GFAA leaders Jonathan Pope and Dick Wilson have said they hope the city's commitment to bonding the project will also open many private and institutional wallets, and open the city to receiving other grants.
Kirk has called the effort it "the philanthropic opportunity of this generation."
Kirk announced the proposed municipal part to the rebuilding budget at the annual football banquet, a month after this past season's Gloucester High Fishermen's football team won its third high school Super Bowl title in four years, and completed its second straight perfect season.
Backers of the Newell project have emphasized, however, that the stadium plays host to many more events beyond football — including boys' and girls' soccer, field hockey and track. The high school's track teams, however, are currently unable to host any meets due to the unsafe condition of the running surface.
Newell Stadium also serves as home to adult and youth soccer games connected to the annual St. Peter's Fiesta, and — weather permitting — to Gloucester High School's graduation ceremonies, among other events.
Kirk has said she hopes much of the rebuilding effort can be carried out this year.
Richard Gaines can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3464, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.