As the battle over Memorial Field rages in Mount Vernon, New York State has offered $5 million to help rebuild the once vibrant park - but with a caveat.
New York State has offered the money, but only if Mount Vernon cedes control to Westchester County to handle construction efforts, officials said. The field has been a sore spot for locals and elected officials as it lays dormant, with thousands of tons of illegally dumped dirt and debris on its surface.
The county seized control of cleanup efforts earlier this year amid the controversies.
Earlier this year, Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas demolished the grandstands at Memorial Field, an action that quickly came under fire by the City Council.
According to a lohud report , state Assemblyman Gary Pretlow wrote a letter to Westchester County Executive George Latimer, stating that “although his money was originally earmarked to flow through the City of Mount Vernon, I assure you that under no circumstances will the City have access to these funds,” regarding the $5 million grant from the state.
Last month, lawyers met with a New York State Supreme Court judge to discuss Memorial Field, as a restraining order remains in place following the demolition of the grandstands, which Thomas may have done without permission.
In a statement following those meetings, Thomas stood resolute in his standing that he is complying with the law and that Memorial Field needs to be cleaned up before major work can begin to reopen it.
“As far as the county takeover, those details are far from complete,” he said. “What I know is we have to remove and address what was illegally dumped out there, and that’s the issue. Nothing more, nothing less. We’re just waiting for the judge to acknowledge that we’re doing a clean-up job at the site.
“We’re making good progress, where everyone is starting to talk, be it through attorneys or through the judge. Memorial Field is moving forward, and we’re looking forward to cleaning up the mess that was left.”
Thomas said that talks included restoring Memorial Field, “making it a premier east coast destination for Olympic athletes and local champions to train, compete and connect with the community.”
Westchester County Legislator Lyndon Williams took to Facebook to address the controversial field this week.
“Between the state and county money, there is over $12 million available for Memorial Field. I commend my friend NYS Assemblyman James Gary Pretlow for all of his efforts in delivering funds for Mount Vernon. Our state and county officials are prepared to work cooperatively with the City as the County leads the construction of new Memorial Field for residents and no obstacles will prevent that.”
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