Expressing their concern about the ongoing neglect of Memorial Field and its significance to the community, Mount Vernon residents, clergy and community leaders rally and march as part of the annual event, Unity and the Community. The event focuses on issues of social justice, community togetherness and honoring residents of Mount Vernon.
“Memorial Field can, once again, be a great place for young men and women throughout the county who enjoy athletics and outdoor recreations,” said Majority Whip Lyndon Williams (D-Mount Vernon). “Moving forward with a renovation project makes sense in so many ways. Athletics help keep our young people off the streets. Also the work will create jobs.”
Memorial Field, formerly know as City Field, was hailed as one of the finest fields in the State with its ideal location visible from the Hutchinson River Parkway. After years of neglect, the stadium on East Sandford Boulevard, built-in 1930, has decayed into a collection of chipped bricks, rusted bleachers, peeling paint, potholes and weeds.
“Memorial Field used to be like our Yankee Stadium: when you played there, you felt like you were playing somewhere special,” Darlos James who coaches the Razorbacks and played at the stadium while growing up told the New York Times in 2009. “It’s horrible now, but we play on it anyway because that’s all we have.”
I was told by clergy, civic leaders and residents about the millions of dollars allocated for renovation. In the same article in Jan 2009, New York Times reported, the Westchester County Board of Legislators voted to set aside $9.7 million for an overhaul through its Legacy Program, which uses capital budget funds and bonds to preserve open space and create recreational facilities throughout the county.
Now five and a half years later, Memorial Field where The Jackson Five performed Sept. 1, 1975 and where I used to attend Mount Vernon High School games and many other events in the 80’s and 90’s has deteriorated to what we have now. Now we have city clergy, community leaders and residents marching for the city and county to do something to restore this once prominent park.
Mount Vernon as a whole as well as many other urban areas in Westchester County are on a consistent decline. We wonder why the youth are out of control when then don’t have safe havens like this once great recreation facility to go to and activities and programs to keep them busy. I moved away from Mount Vernon ten years ago and came back to take care of my mom. I originally showed up to Memorial Field to cover the march for Black Westchester, but once I got there and saw what horrible shape it was in, it almost brought a tear to this editor’s eyes.
I knew I had to get involved and do something. Its time for us to step up and hold those in power responsible. Why is it necessary to march to get the city and county to upkeep a city owned park. What started out as a news brief, become an editorial demanding answers and progress. I want answers, and want to encourage all residents of Mount Vernon to demand answers. Time for passing blame on previous administrations is over. If you are in power now, it time for you to tell the people how you plan to restore Memorial Field. If we the people don’t like what we hear its time to vote in someone who will do what needs to be done. Not just in Memorial Field, not just in Mount Vernon, but in all the urban or what’s being termed low-income areas in Westchester. I stand by those who put together the march but encourage the residents of Mount Vernon to do more!
How did we get here? How did a place, once grand enough to hold a Jackson Five concert become such an eye sore. What happened to the millions of dollars voted to be set aside by the Westchester County Board of Legislators? Why hasn’t the county done something about the money allocated and approved not being used for the renovation? Why hasn’t someone demanded answers from Mount Vernon’s Department of Recreation who The Times reported were over the maintenance, scheduling, security and overhauling the complex. From what I saw today, not much more than a lot of talk and shuffling of dirt has been done. Who needs to be held accountable? Black Westchester will be searching for answers to these questions and report what we find back to the people.