MOUNT VERNON, NY — July 11, 2021 — It has often been said that action related to ill advised development now takes place at City Council meetings. The council is rezoning large swathes of the city and taking lead agency on specific projects. By the time some of these projects come to the Planning Board for site plan review, it is often too late and difficult to change their most onerous and damaging facets.
The Stagg project adjacent to Willson’s Woods Park is currently before the council. A public hearing was held on June 23 about the rezoning of 1 Bradford Rd. to accommodate Stagg. Work on the real estate developer’s new Mount Vernon headquarters has all but halted after the company started constructing a second building without approval.
The Mount Vernon Department of Buildings stopped the work being done at One Bradford Road LLC, a subsidiary of the Stagg Group in January 2020. The Planning Board demanded to know why they thought they could start building without receiving approval to move ahead. After a meeting between city and company officials, it was agreed that windows and a roof could be installed to protect the interior from the winter elements. It was the only permission they received.
It was under the mayoralty of André Wallace that the circumstances described above came about. Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard, who took office in January 2020 blamed André Wallace for allowing the company to expedite the work without the necessary approvals; charges Wallace denied.
Kindly advise The Mount Vernon City Council was caught off guard by the strong turnout from the Vernon Park neighborhood that will be most adversely affected by the project. As a result, the public hearing has been continued to the next council meeting on Wednesday, July 14 at 7pm.
Vernon Park neighbors assert that Willson’s Woods Park is “our largest greenspace” and consider Stagg’s proposals would defile it by using the project site for maintenance and repair of heavy construction equipment. Vernon Park residents espouse it would be a good opportunity for the community to unite in the shared goal of protecting “our” park. Willson’s Woods Park is owned by Westchester County and operated by its Department of Parks,
Community members are expected to attend the July 14th meeting in greater numbers. They also beseech people to give voice to their perspective, and even if people don’t want to speak, they are asked to lend their support by their presence, and if that is not possible, to do so via Zoom.