After years of discussion, debate and discourse, efforts to restore the once vibrant Memorial Field in Mount Vernon have begun in earnest.
Earlier this year, Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas announced a “two-prong” approach to reopen the once vibrant recreation hub that has laid in ruins for the better part of a decade.
On Monday, the first shoe dropped, as demolition of the deteriorating Memorial Field grandstands kicked off shortly after 10 a.m. on Monday morning. The demolition project and subsequent removal of debris is expected to take up to three weeks, then a full restoration effort can begin, Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas said on Monday.
“For a decade, Memorial Field has been a zombie,” he said. “But, today, the flatlining is over and the pulse returns. Tearing down the grandstands clears the way for the rebirth of the new, better than before Memorial Field. Our iconic park, once the proud site of countless competitions, concerts and most important, lasting generational memories, is coming back to life.”
Thomas said that Mount Vernon expects to save about $500,000 by doing most of the work in-house and taking advantage of off-season, winter trucking rates. The total cost of this phase of restoration is expected to be about $800,000.
Work began over the weekend to prepare for Monday’s demolition. Crews began staging the heavy machinery necessary to take down the structure safely and separating loose debris around the grandstands to be recycled.
“The reason I have been so adamant about moving forward is that we cannot allow another year to pass without progress,” he said, noting that it has been seven years since the county and city announced work was set to begin on the Memorial Field restoration,” Thomas said. “For too long, there has been too much talk and not enough action. It has been too easy to do nothing. Today, we are here to break through the inertia and resistance with action and persistence.”
“A lot of hard work remains, and we won’t stop until it is all done. With the grandstands down, the buildup can begin.”
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