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Mount Vernon Mayor Threatens Legal Action Over Memorial Field Dumping

Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas issued a call for action at Memorial Field on Friday.
Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas issued a call for action at Memorial Field on Friday. Video Credit: Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. - Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas has threatened legal action against former Mayor Ernest Davis’ administration over contaminated soil that was illegally dumped at Memorial Field.

During a press conference held at Memorial Field, Thomas announced that the city was taking action and issuing subpoenas to former city employees who may have information regarding the illegal dumping, which is expected to cost upwards of $2 million to remove.

Thomas said he would petition the court to “bring people forward to share vital information, starting with Davis, all the way down to former employees of the city who have critical knowledge and awareness about what happened (at Memorial Field).”

“Something happened here that didn’t follow the rules, and didn’t follow the rules of law,” he said. “Operating outside of the law is something we don’t tolerate in Mount Vernon, and this is one of the first big developments that we’ve been able to identify, because the records of which are related to Memorial Field were removed from City Hall before we got there.”

Citing the murder of Kitty Genovese in 1964, Thomas said the city was done turning a blind eye to misappropriations.

“To hear the former mayor now say he had a handshake deal to allow dumping at our field is reminiscent of Kitty Genovese, when she was screaming for someone to step in and do something while everybody watched.”

Thomas went on to say that he was in the process of issuing a demand letter to Mamaroneck-based Avante Contracting, which holds the contract to destroy the grandstands at Memorial Field, yet have failed to make any progress.

“We paid more than a million dollars to demolish the grandstands behind me, and yet they’re still standing,” Thomas stated. “We’ll be enforcing this contract and anticipate they will come forward to demolish the grandstands. Permission for a demolition permit has been extended and we look forward to having them begin the process in demolishing the grandstands.”

Thomas added that he expects Davis, Comptroller Maureen Walker and others inside the alleged “handshake deal” to pay for the removal of the contaminated soil.

“Part of the action that we filed includes having former Mayor Davis, Comptroller Walker, (City Councilman) Marcus Griffith pay the bill,” he added. “All of them had some form of knowledge or input and we expect to hold them accountable for the cost of removing this.

“While the city may have to pay some up front, we fully expect them to pay the bill.”

Moving forward, Thomas said that he and Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow and Legislator Lyndon Williams will meet with the community regarding Memorial Field and have an announcement planned regarding the next steps.

“It is time for justice and we certainly hope that our friends in justice take a hard look at the recent revelations and help Mount Vernon bring its field back,” he concluded. “As we work to bring it back, know we are looking forward and are doing all we can to bring this field back to life.” 

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