OLEAN – The time for talk looks to be over when it comes to the historic Bradner Stadium.
Members of the Common Council this week took the final formal steps in creating an account to fund repairs and renovations to the 90-year-old stadium.
Council members voted to fund the account with $1.5 million in surplus funds.
Council President Ann McLaughlin said the plan was presented to the State Comptroller’s Office and met with approval.
“They would like to see us use the money in surplus,” she said.
City Auditor Fred Saradin said the city is on track to have between $6.5 million and $6.7 million in surplus at the end of the year.
Mayor Linda Witte said the renovations and repairs have been a long time coming.
“For the four years I have been here, we have been trying to work through the [Olean Local Development Corp.] to entice people to donate, and people right now are just not donating,” Witte said. “We have been told, on several occasions, that people look at this as a public entity, not private. I think we should be using the surplus for this.”
“It’s part of our history and what makes it unique,” she added. “We need to be thankful we have it. We can’t just let it sit there and wither away. It’s a one-time project. I am very supportive of it, and I think it’s going to pay dividends in the future.”
McLaughlin said the responsibility for the stadium has to be on the shoulders of the city but also has to be carried out with prudence.
“This is something that has been on the five-year capital plan for some time now,” McLaughlin said. “Nobody I have talked to wants to demolish the stadium. We have to take responsibility for it. This is not the Taj Mahal by any means. We are not trying to put turf throughout it. We are trying to address our needs by staying in our means.”
Pointing to a visual of the proposed layout for the stadium, McLaughlin said, “This layout would best fit everybody, the Oilers, Diesel, Rally in the Valley, the Fourth of July. I know recently the Mayor’s Office received a call to hold an eight-band concert at the stadium. Hopefully, the Olean Theater group would want to put up some kind of outdoor theater plays.”
While many in the city may see this as an East End project, it is far from that, according to Alderman Matthew Keller.
“I think this is long overdue,” he said. “It’s a project that everybody in the city can benefit from if they choose to. I think this is a good way to reach the entire public and put their tax dollars to work.”
The renovations will give the city the ability to charge users properly, McLaughlin said.
Work on the stadium has started under auspices of city departments and with the help of volunteers.