MOUNT VERNON — State Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow stated in an important letter, to Westchester County Executive George Latimer on Monday, that Mayor Richard W. Thomas will have no access to the funds allocated to the renovation of Memorial Field by the State of New York.
“Please be advised that the State of New York, through Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, has allocated $5 million to the reconstruction of Memorial Field. Although this money was originally earmarked to flow through the City of Mount Vernon, I assure you that under no circumstances will the City have access to these funds.”
Assemblyman Pretlow is not saying the funds are no longer available, he went on to indicate that the earmarked funds will still be available for the renovation of Memorial Field, so long as that renovation is conducted by the County of Westchester.
The City Council has been advocating this position for some time now and, indeed, was forced to litigate to stop the unauthorized and damaging activities that were occurring at Memorial Field by Mayor Thomas. Through counsel, Mayor Thomas unsuccessfully attempted to have the temporary restraining order thrown out, but two courts denied the Mayor’s request and kept the temporary restraining order in place, without modification. The restraining order, secured by the City Council of Mount Vernon, keeps the status quo and continues to prohibit Mayor Thomas and his administration from performing any activity at the Memorial Field site.
The State of New York, like the County and the City Council before it, has made plain it has clearly lost confidence in the Mayor to complete this project. The City Council has been actively working with the County of Westchester to help develop a plan to restart the renovation at Memorial Field as soon as possible. They have been excellent partners throughout this process, and we look forward to working with them as the renovation takes place.
“The goal of everyone involved has always been a revitalized and vibrant Memorial Field,” Councilman André Wallace tells Black Westchester. “The State reinforced today what we’ve been fighting the last two months for in court – a real plan with real deliverables on a real schedule. The County of Westchester is in the best position to make that happen.”
On Friday, June 1, 2018, the City Council voted unanimously (4-0, Councilwoman Delia Farquharson was not present) to transfer control of the renovation to Westchester County. Nevertheless, the Thomas Administration has continued to direct what the council and Kela Tennis owners allege are unlawful and unauthorized activities and expend City resources at the site, including the controversial removal of the tennis bubble at the Kela Tennis Center. A judge had to ordered the equipment to be returned to Kela or Mayor Thomas would face a contempt charges.
Kela Tennis has now sued the city for $27 million, alleging a months-long effort to shut down the tennis operation that ended with the bubble taken down and the owners being locked out of his facility.
Since the issuance of the restraining order, the County of Westchester has been authorized by its Board of Legislators to file suit against Mount Vernon for breach of the inter-municipal agreement which governed the renovation of Memorial Field.
Stay tuned to Black Westchester for more on this developing story!