MOUNT VERNON, NY — May 14, 2019 — As a mayoral candidate, I realize the goal is simple: We must remove the dirt from Memorial Field and have the county complete the botched project that is Memorial Field. The lack of progress at Memorial Field speaks to the ineptitude and dysfunction of our city leadership. In December 2018, when Westchester County lawmakers took the lead in rebuilding and renovating Memorial Field, residents felt relieved that the job would get done in a timely fashion. The county required that the city clean up the field and so that twelve million dollars in construction would begin on finally delivering Memorial Field to the citizens of Mount Vernon, sadly this was not the case.
What Mount Vernon residents have seen since December is a Mayor who has delayed his own budget process, blew past budget deadlines and caused homeowners to receive their tax bills late causing the city to use school district funds which has now resulted in more lawsuits and embarrassment. We saw a Council President rush through a faulty budget with flaws and questionable revenues without explanation that did not contain any money for Memorial Field cleanup. The reported two million dollars in cleanup money would normally come from a capital projects fund, but the city has failed to restore its bond rating or convene a capital projects committee since 2009. This is dysfunctional leadership.
Residents are sick and tired of the delays while our leadership continues to falter and underdeliver to the citizens of Mount Vernon. In March 2019, the Department of Environmental Conservation approved the city’s cleanup plan. This past Saturday, I attended a community meeting held by County Legislator Lyndon Williams on Memorial Field in which the Mayor made more promises to authorize action on Memorial Field by Monday. He has yet to act on this. Additionally, both the Mayor and City Council President Wallace have failed to pass legislation authorizing Cornerstone to prepare specifications to bid out the clean up of Memorial Field. As of June 26, one day after the Mayoral primary, the city will be fined $37,000 or more per day for failing to remove the contaminated dirt at Memorial Field. Why haven’t the bids gone out? What are we waiting for? I call on the County to take over the clean up of Memorial Field. It is clear that our local officials lack the political will and competence to get the job done.
Furthermore, Legislator Williams announced that the city forfeited $500k in state funds for Memorial Field because of political infighting that has focused more on the drama and not the work. There is another $5 million of state money, secured by Assemblyman Gary Pretlow for Memorial Field that has been sitting, because there is no faith in the leadership and direction of our local government. It’s time to move unapologetically in a new direction.
Lack of leadership is a problem for the City of Mount Vernon. As mayor, I am bringing to the fore 30 years of executive experience in capital projects, budgeting, grant writing and relationships with over twenty-five federal, state and county agencies. We can complete Memorial Field by sticking to the plan. Something that the last three administrations have failed to do. The objective is simple: We must remove the dirt, we must secure the bid packages to pay for clean up, we must let the county take the lead and complete Memorial Field by 2021 and we must return Memorial Field to the citizens of Mount Vernon. As Mayor, that will be one of my top priorities. We cannot afford to play games with the citizens; we must be committed to the work.
On June 25th you have an opportunity to vote for transformational change. Our leaders have embarrassed this city and shown gross incompetence in getting the job done. I look forward to becoming your next Mayor because I will bring integrity, partnership and credibility back to our city and clean up the dirt that has been plaguing us for decades. Let’s clean it up, it’s time.
Shawyn Patterson-Howard, MPA
Candidate for Mayor
City of Mount Vernon