Nine months after the city awarded a contract for the stabilization and partial rehabilitation of the decrepit Hinchliffe Stadium to a New York City company, engineers have nearly finished a work plan that includes reversing deterioration of the stadium’s exterior.
Carl Rothbart of Wank Adams Slavin Associates, a New York based architecture and engineering firm, said 80-percent of the stadium’s construction plan has been completed. By September of this year the entire plan will be finished, said Rothbart, a preservation architect.
Rothbart and others presented part of their plan to the Historic Preservation Commission on Monday evening inside the Paterson Museum. The plan detailed ways the stadium will be stabilized.
Throughout the stadium there’s a lot of cracking and voids in concrete mostly due to the rusting of the reinforcing steel, said Rothbart. “You should have an inch of coverage between the surface and the reinforcing steel,” said Rothbart.
Rothbart said part of the stabilization will include an inch of concrete that will be paved over the current structure’s exterior.
“We’re going to be drilling holes at a 45-degree angle into the cracks and injecting an epoxy grout that will mend the wall back together and prevent water from infiltrating,” added Anthony Pagnotta of Gilsanz Murray Steficek, a New York based structural engineering company.
By preventing water from sipping inside the cracks, said Pagnotta, a structural engineer, it will prevent further deterioration of the stadium.
“The Hinchliffe sign above the entrance is cracked on both sides, there’s a very fine material that has to be removed and stabilized,” mentioned Rothbart. Some of the ceramic tile work that make up the sign outside of the stadium are missing, said Rothbart. However, those that remain are in decent condition.
“We’ll do everything we can to maintain the sign,” said Pagnotta. “What we called for is that each of the section to be carefully cut away from the structure and laid face down in a form and mend those pieces together to each other.”
Pagnotta said the sign will be added following concrete re-slabbing which will provide structural backup preventing further decay.
On the inside, the stadium faces a dilemma, because it is too small for a modern sports complex and too big for a high school sports arena, fitting a 400 meter track field will be a stretch.
“The intention was to get a regulation size, 400 meter track, under the current condition the field doesn’t fit the track,” said Hamidul Hoq, a civil engineer with an Edison based engineering and design consulting firm, Pennoni.
Hoq said the only way to fit the track would be by extending the stadium’s southern boundaries further towards the Passaic River. “It’s 30 to 40 meters short on the south side,” said Hoq.
Richard Kilpatrick, business administrator for the city’s school district, observed, “That seems like a big change to the whole structure.”
Kilpatrick asked Hoq what the current measurement was; Hoq said approximately 385-meters. Kilpatrick said for just 15-meters moving a wall seems unnecessary. The business administrator suggested they extend the track’s straightaway rather than launch a major renovation over a paltry 15-meter.
Following the presentation Hoq said it would be difficult if not impossible to add 15-meter without expanding the stadium’s southern boundaries.
Brian LoPinto, founder of Friends of Hinchliffe Stadium, an organization that has been fighting to restore the stadium, stated that if measurements do not reflect professional standards of each sport – the stadium is set to be a venue for football, baseball, soccer – then the renovated stadium will be unsustainable.
“Hinchliffe has to be sustainable,” said LoPinto. “We can’t just have a 260-70 feet right field, no one’s going to come.”
For the field itself Hoq mentioned an artificial turf. LoPinto suggested natural grass. “Here’s the thing about natural grass it has to be maintained,” said Martin Feitlowitz, chairman of the commission, alluding to the city’s history of being unable to maintain structures.
Away from the field and returning to the stadium’s exterior, Rothbart mentioned the sidewalks surrounding the stadium which require renovation.
“We’re proposing decorative concrete for the sidewalk, concrete pavers, where we can probably engrave names for fundraising purposes,” added Hoq.
Officials in charge of the stadium will be able to sell space on each paver to the public to raise funds to fully restore the stadium.
Before engineers began looking at the structure an archeological review was completed which found that before the stadium was built on the site there was a reservoir, a burial ground, and “there was a roller coaster that was partially in the stadium,” said Rothbart.
Rothbart also said the four ticket booths in the stadium that have Spanish tile roof will have to be renovated. And safety railing, not part of the original stadium, must be added to the stadium for safety.
Concluding the discussion and presentation at the museum, Gianfranco Archimede, director of the commission, said after this phase the city will have the documents necessary to begin the process that will ultimately result in the restoration of one of the only remaining stadiums in the country where the Negro League was able to hold baseball games.