WORCESTER – On Tuesday night, City Manager Edward Augustus, Jr. requested approval from Worcester’s City Council for a $32 million loan to cover additional costs for the Polar Park project.
The request was sent to the economic development subcommittee.
There were plenty of questions asked on the council floor on Tuesday, but one question that wasn’t asked is how long the City Manager knew the project would need the additional funding.
According to a source working closely with the project, the City has known “since at least early October” that millions more would be needed to complete the construction of the ballpark and surrounding development.
A second source said, “[The City] has been working on it for months now, at least.”
When ThisWeekinWorcester.com [TWIW] contacted the City Manager’s office asking when Augustus knew the project would require additional funding, their response via email was, “The communication went to Council on Friday, Jan. 10.”
When asked again to clarify exactly when Augustus knew, city spokesperson Michael Vigneux replied “I’ve answered the question.”
When pressed a third time, asking if the City Manager didn’t know that he would have to request the approval for a $32 million loan until Friday, January 10 and if he drew up these documents on the same day — Vigneux’s response again was one line: “The documents were finalized Friday.”
Vigneux did say that the City is confident the $32 million loan will cover the costs of the ballpark project going forward.
Finally, TWIW requested comment in response to information shared with us that the City was aware of the additional costs as far back as early October.
The City has yet to respond.
A source also told us the firm of Foley Hoag was brought in again for legal consultation between October and December for the purposes of facilitating an agreement between the City, the Worcester Red Sox ownership, affected area businesses and others to finalize the terms of the plan moving forward.
In that time, Foley Hoag received nearly $194,000 in legal consultation fees from the City’s Economic Development office in five payments between Oct. 7 and Dec. 20, 2019.
The firm had already received more than $282,000 in consultation fees from Sept. 2018 to May 2019 to help facilitate the Pawtucket Red Sox move to Worcester.
In response to a request for comment, Vigneux said Foley Hoag has been on retainer by the City during the course of the project.
Additional phone calls and emails to the City Manager’s office on Tuesday, Jan. 14 and Wednesday, Jan. 15 have been ignored.
More information will follow.
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