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Memorial Field Clean-Up Is A Priority

Letter From County Legislator Lyndon Williams

Two weeks ago, I wrote this letter (below) to Mount Vernon’s Mayor, City Comptroller and City Council President requesting a meeting to discuss plans for remedying the deplorable conditions at Memorial Field. To date, I have received no response agreeing to meet.

As you know, last year tons of contaminated dirt and hazardous waste were dumped on Memorial Field. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation found soil and debris contaminated with ash, slag, lead, and other toxins. The dumping of hazardous waste on a public park is a crime. You only need to Google “dumping on Roberto Clemente Park” to understand the seriousness of this situation.

I believe it would be a travesty for City officials to turn a blind eye to the conditions at Memorial Field and then saddle city taxpayers with the cost of cleaning-up the field. Residents are already overburdened with taxes and should not have to pay for the costs to clean-up illegal dumping on Memorial Field because the city decides not to hold the perpetrators accountable.

As the County Legislator, I had the County approved $9.7 million for the renovation of Memorial Field in 2009. Over the past six years, the project has been riddled with unnecessary delays and mismanagement ranging from infighting between the City Council and a former Mayor; the unilateral changing of the plans which inflated the costs of the project by $5 million; waste and lack of full accountability for funds advanced from the County to the City; and now the dumping of toxic waste on the Field.

City officials must put aside their petty disputes and move quickly to remedy the deplorable conditions on the long-shuttered Memorial Field. With each rain fall, toxic waste seeps into ground water and streams and becomes permanently deposited into the soil.

While City Council President, Marcus Griffith, did not respond to my letter requesting a meeting, here is his quote in the Journal News: “We know the field is a mess. We know that. Until there’s a proposal, there’s nothing more to talk about.” This is not good enough. Mount Vernon officials owe it to the residents who elected them to talk with each other and come up with a proposal for cleaning up the hazardous waste dumped on the City’s largest park. These toxins were dumped under their watch. City officials must cooperate with federal, state and county law enforcement to get to the bottom of this criminal act.

In Flint, Michigan, the elected officials’ failure to protect residents resulted in a poisonous water system causing substantial harm to children and adults in that community.  Mount Vernon’s elected officials must fulfill their responsibility to protect residents from harm and the environmental degradation of Memorial Field.

As the County Legislator, I will work to have the County release the remaining $6.4 million for Memorial Field. My office is also working on identifying other government funds to supplement the county funding for the renovations. However, cleaning up the contamination and the cooperation of city officials are necessary for this project to move forward. Please let your city officials know that Memorial Field must be their priority.

Sincerely,

lyndonwilliams

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Black Westchester - News With The Black Point Of View is an online news magazine for people of color for Westchester and the Tri- State area of New York at every economic level. Our mission is to promote the concept of “community” through media.
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