MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – While many in Mount Vernon remain split over their government and elected officials, one issue all residents can agree on is that something needs to be done to revitalize Memorial Field.
The field, which was built in the 1920s, was once a hotbed of county and community recreation. It has been out of commission for several years while politicians debate what the field’s future should be.
A renovation was a promise from Mount Vernon Mayor Ernest Davis five years ago, though very little progress has been made. Since that proposal, politicians have debated multiple scenarios involving a track and tennis bubble, much to the chagrin of anxious residents.
“Each year, each election, someone promises a new plan to fix it, but still the gates are locked and it’s loaded with rocks,” Pam Chambers said. “At this point, I don’t think anyone cares what gets done as long as something gets done.”
In April, Davis detailed a plan that would include new turf fields, renovated seating, improved handicapped access and a tennis bubble. That same month, City Councilwoman Deborah Reynolds started an all-out campaign to construct an eight-lane track, citing that eight, not six-lane tracks are needed to regulate and host competitions.
Councilwoman Yuhanna Edwards, who was one of three victorious City Council candidates – along with Councilwoman Roberta Apuzzo and former Councilman Marcus Griffith -- in Tuesday’s Democratic Primary is also a proponent of an eight-lane track, while removing as many as three tennis courts to accommodate it.
Apuzzo is the biggest advocate for the tennis bubble. During her campaign, she argued that the tennis center never should have been closed. According to Apuzzo, the city was earning $50,000 each year from the tennis bubble before it was torn down.
“We could have had revenue coming into the city to this day,” she said. “The tennis center never had to close. Kids came from all over to play, and they want to come back, and we need them to come back.”
With all of the proposals that have been tossed around, South 1st Avenue resident Elizabeth Dunlop questioned why such little progress has been made over the better part of a decade.
“Everyone has a plan, but nothing is happening. Our city is crumbling but we’re busy arguing,” she said. “We need to get people, and money coming into our city so we can fix it.”
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