The nonprofit group that has been planning to redevelop Family First Sports Park has lost its tax-exempt status.
At least for now.
Erie News Now has learned the IRS revoked the tax-exempt status of the Greater Regional Erie Athletic Team Training (GREATT) for failing to file proper tax documents.
GREATT president Bob Catalde says that there was some confusion over what paperwork had to be filed, due to the fact that the organization never spent any money.
But Erie County Councilman Jay Breneman is now asking for the county to withdraw its support of the project.
GREATT plans to purchase Family First Sports Park and transform it into a state-of-the art facility.
Those plans include transforming the two indoor soccer fields, into two NHL size hockey rinks.
GREATT also plans to upgrade the parks' the basketball and volleyball courts, as well as the outdoor fields.
For three years, GREATT has been working to raise $9.1 million, which is what phase one of the project is expected to cost.
News of the IRS revoking GREATT’s charitable status, is not sitting well with Breneman, who in a written statement tells Erie News Now:
“GREATT received a $20k planning grant in 2015, and has been earmarked to receive over $3.5 million in taxpayer funds, yet they failed to file a critical document that is a fundamental requirement of every nonprofit in America. This critical failure on their part of something so basic is alarming, and every taxpayer should be concerned about GREATT's ability to be faithful stewards of such a major investment of taxpayer dollars.” said Breneman. “No one wants to see the GREATT initiative fail, but we cannot simply shrug this matter off, as it could be indicative of their ability to deliver on their promises.
Catalde also sent a written response to Erie News Now:
“In response to the recent concern raised by Councilman Breneman regarding GREATT's charitable status, please be aware that because no revenue came into the corporation for the first couple years, and no expenses went out, there was a misstep with respect to one form that should have been filed. Once we were made aware of the problem, it was corrected and the IRS will reinstate our charitable status post haste.” said Catalde. “This in no way affects our plans to purchase and build out the facility in the coming weeks. Had Councilman Breneman reached out to us before attempting to inexplicably harm the project, we would have explained that to him."