MOUNT VERNON, NY — February 13, 2019 — I must regrettably inform you that Mount Vernon City officials neglected to place money in the 2019 city budget for the clean-up of the 18,000 tons contaminated dirt and debris, which the city allowed to be dumped on Memorial Field. This inaction by the Mayor, Comptroller and City Council jeopardizes the restoration of Memorial Field by the County for residents of Mount Vernon. The City’s contract with the County, which was approved last year, requires the City to clean-up the dirt and debris on the Field before the County could spend almost $12 million in county and state funds improving Memorial Field. The City’s failures and mismanagement have delayed Memorial Field’s improvement for the past 10 years. The present inaction and disregard for contractual obligations by city officials demonstrate a continued pattern of behavior that is responsible for this stalled project.
As I previously informed you, when Westchester County Executive, George Latimer, took office in January 2018, I wrote to him requesting that the County take over the construction and restoration of the Memorial Field and then return the completed project for City of Mount Vernon to run the day-to-day operations. He agreed. This change required amendments to existing agreements between the County and the City. It also required the Board of Legislators approval, which my colleagues unanimously approved. The new agreement requires the City to remove 18,000 tons of dirt and debris that it permitted to be dumped on Memorial Field.
Memorial Field is a jewel of Mount Vernon. However, the City has allowed it to become a pile of rubble. The County approved $9.7 million back in 2009 and advanced $3.4 million to the City. Rather than moving forward with the restoration plans, the City had the Field languished for 10 years and the $3.4 million advance has still not been fully accounted for. Now, with the County taking the lead and an additional $5.0 million from our State Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, I had hoped that the project was on track to succeed, until this inaction by city officials. They have incurred hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars for lawyers to engage in political in-fighting and personal squabbles but failed to fund Memorial Field remediation.
Earlier this week,the Mount Vernon City Council was called upon to send the budget back to the Board of Estimate and Contract to fund the clean-up of Memorial Field in the proposed FY2019 City Budget so that the restoration could begin.
The proposed budget was not approved.