WHITE PLAINS, NY– Legislator Lyndon Williams is pushing a new solution to move forward with the stalled renovations at Mt. Vernon’s Memorial Field. Williams is proposing that the project, initially undertaken with $9.7 million of county funding, be completed by the County Parks Department. The County is funding the overwhelming majority of the project. The County would turn over the completed project for the City to run.
Memorial Field is owned by the City of Mt. Vernon but the funds for the renovations are coming from County Legacy Program. Williams said the project has been mismanaged by the City over the last six years and that Mount Vernon residents are frustrated and desperate to have the project completed. Williams said Memorial Field has seen brighter days… days when the famous Mean Joe Green Coca-Cola commercial was filmed there… when the Jackson Five preformed there, and many other glorious memories of this historic place. Williams said “it is time to restore this stadium to its greatness.”
Williams detailed his proposal in a letter dated August 7, 2015 to Mayor Ernest Davis, in which he also wrote:
“The remaining county funds held by the City would be turned over to the County’s Finance Department. These funds along with the remaining $6.3 million of Legacy Funds and the money for which the City is legally obligated under the [Inter-municipal Agreement] would be used to fund cost of the completion of the facility.” The City would have to agree to have the County take over the project. Williams requested a meeting with the Mayor but has not heard from the Mayor or the City Council. He said “I hope that our city officials would put aside their egos in the best interest of Mount Vernon’s resident who have waited long enough for this facility to be completed.”
Williams’ plan to have the County Parks Department take over construction management of the field, which will save Mount Vernon taxpayers the costs of hiring a professional to manage construction. The County Parks Department has experienced and knowledgeable staff. After Completion, the new facility would be turned over for the City to manage. The new stadium, track and field will remove the blighted condition that stands as an eyesore at the entrance-way to the City. The facility will host sporting events, concerts and cultural events. “The new facility promised great benefits for Mt. Vernon including construction jobs for city residents, revenues from the new facility and a restoration of community pride and positive public image,” Williams explained.
The County approved Legacy funding in 2009 for a state-of-the-art facility at Memorial Field with a 4,000 seat stadium, an 8-lane track, regulation size soccer and football fields, concessions, locker-rooms and many other amenities. Construction began in 2011. When Mayor Davis returned to office in 2012, he stopped work on Memorial Field. He changed the design plans to a scaled-down facility using the old stadium. The original 2009 plan required the demolition of the old stadium and construction of a brand new stadium based on current standards. Professional engineers concluded that the foundation of the old stadium (built in the 1930’s) was decayed and contained asbestos and other hazardous construction materials. The change in plans resulted in additional costs of $5 million, money which the City does not have. Williams said that the Mayor permanently changed the footprint of the facility so the initial state-of-the-art project design could no longer be constructed but a smaller project is still possible.
However Lohud reports, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, a Republican, isn’t likely to agree to take the lead on field renovations but Astorino spokesman Ned McCormack said the county is still committed to fund the project. McCormack said Williams raised questions that need to be answered about how money has been spent so far and how the changes will affect the estimated final price tag.
“This is a city project and a city field and we’ll work with Mount Vernon, but it’s their project and their field,” McCormack tells Lohud.
“To suggest the county come in to fix it means that you have the money,” Mayor Davis tells Lohud in response. “So if you have the money to come in and do it, why don’t you give it to the people who stand to gain or lose the most from it?”
We reached out to Williams, who is a legislator that represents Mt. Vernon and is trying to see how he can get it done for community, for further clarification. He explains his proposal was more of a suggestion to the executive branch (County Exec. Astorino and the Board of Legislators) to see how can everyone move forward in the completion of the renovations of the iconic stadium, that has been closed for the past six years.
“The first step, setting up a meeting to see if the city would be interested in accepting the County’s help,” Williams tells BW. “Next is to bring together the legislative branch and the executive branch of the County to find consensus on moving forward with Memorial Field.”
This requires everyone to shelf their egos and work together. So far Williams hasn’t heard from Mayor Davis or the City Council. BW has long documented how Memorial Field has suffered from decades of decay, its time for all the elected officials, that the people elected to serve to community, get over themselves and do whatever needs to be done. No more finger-pointing, no more buck passing, the people are tired of hearing about whose plan is better, right now the only thing that is important is, the elected officials find away to work together and complete this project.
BW feels Lyndon Williams’ proposal is a step in the right direction, now its time for everyone else to get on board, or get out the way. The people need to take back the power and one way to do that is, the people need to use the power of their vote and let their voices be heard, loud and clear in the Democratic Primary on September 10th.