MOUNT VERNON – Dozens showed up at the Mount Vernon Tennis Center (431 Garden Ave) in support of Kela Simunyola and family, Saturday afternoon by Memorial Field, Mount Vernon’s badly decaying historic field that the three administrations has been unsuccessfully renovating for over a decade. The owner of Kela Tennis Center was joined by some dozen supporters, who came out to show their support for the tennis center that Mayor Richard Thomas shut down earlier this month.
On June 1st shortly after midnight, Mayor Thomas sent crews in the middle of the night to shut power to the tennis facility and deflate its bubble. The first-term mayor says he had to do it because he says the tennis center owed the city a half-million dollars in back rent and had never complied with Department of Environmental Conservation orders to remove nearby debris.
But the tennis center owners told News 12 they never received a notice from the DEC to get rid of the debris, and say they were told by the city not to pay rent because the city hadn’t complied with a contract to help improve the center so it could be part of the new Memorial Field.
Councilman Marcus Griffith and Former mayor Ernest D. Davis confirm that there was in fact a deal in place that the tennis center would not be charged rent until the city finished their part of the deal that including building a wall and the exterior. Kela was responsible for the interior. But Mayor Davis lost the election and Mayor Thomas did not continue the work required by the city and the city never held up their end of the bargain.
A city hall insider who currently works for Mayor Thomas tells Black Westchester that there is no way Kela could owe $500,000 in back rent when their lease is only somewhere around $50,000 a year. The insider goes on to say Kela Tennis would have to had been at Memorial Field for over a decade to owe anywhere near the half a million dollars the mayor claims.
BW’s Brenda L. Crump broadcasted live on Facebook from the rally (see video below).
Shortly after the rally Mayor Richard Thomas says there was illegal dumping under the tennis courts and at Memorial Field permitted by former Mayor Ernie Davis caused the metaphorical bubble to be burst.
The bubble was intact until people who had orders from the mayor destroyed the bubble and turned out the lights early Friday morning
The rally comes a day after Judge George E. Fufidio, Jr. issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on Friday, against the City of Mount Vernon, Mayor Richard W. Thomas, and City Comptroller Deborah Reynolds, from doing further work at Memorial Field and additional demolition at the Mount Vernon Tennis Center, halting all activity at the Memorial Field site indefinitely.