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Letter: Fourth Street Park Renovations In Mount Vernon

Legislator Lyndon D. Williams wrote a letter about a Mount Vernon park.
Legislator Lyndon D. Williams wrote a letter about a Mount Vernon park. Photo Credit: File

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – The Mount Vernon Daily Voice accepts letters to the editor. Let us know how you feel about what is going on in the city.

Legislator Lyndon D. Williams wrote the following letter to Darren M. Morton, the Commissioner for the Department of Recreation regarding renovations at Fourth Street Park.

An article was published in Newsday Westchester on April 22, 2013 discussing, among other things, the Westchester County Board of Legislator’s approval of funding for renovations of Fourth Street Park. As you know, County Executive Robert Astorino continues to block this funding from coming to the Mount Vernon community. Mr. George Oros, the Chief of Staff for County Executive Robert Astorino, was interviewed by the Newsday reporter. Mr. Oros explained that Mr. Astorino was blocking funding for this project because he is concerned as to whether the park would serve all Westchester residents.

The legislation approved by the Board of Legislators for funding Fourth Street Park clearly states that the park would serve all Westchester residents. This is a standard requirement for all Legacy projects.

Moreover, Mr. Astorino never used this excuse to hold up funding for the many other municipal parks and playgrounds that the County funded through the Legacy program. It is clear that Mr. Astorino has singled out the Mount Vernon community for disparate treatment.

Mr. Oros also stated to the reporter that cities and towns across the county would be clamoring for money to fix up soccer fields and basketball courts if the county started “handing out” money to all worthwhile projects. It is noteworthy that several cities and towns around Westchester have, in fact, received Legacy funding for parks and soccer fields - just as Mount Vernon requested for Fourth Street Park.

Mr. Astorino's administration even increased funding for a field, above the amount authorized, although that municipality did not build affordable housing as was required by the Legacy program. On the other hand, Mount Vernon complied with the Legacy requirements, and the Board of Legislators accepted the city’s commitment to affordable housing constructed at 60 East First Street as satisfying the quid-proquo requirement of the Legacy program.

Therefore, Mr. Oros’ statement suggesting that funding for a municipal park is an unusual occurrence is simply not truthful.

Finally, Mr. Oros told the reporter that Westchester County never reached an agreement with Mount Vernon on how much the city would “kick in” to fund the project. He called this a standard practice when the county contributes to capital projects in municipalities. Mr. Oros was quoted as saying “If it’s going to happen, we have to have some agreement with the city on what their contribution will be.” This statement is also not truthful because the city’s contribution is contained in the legislation approved by the Board of Legislators. I’m not aware that the city of Mount Vernon, at any time, denied its obligation as Mr. Oros implies in his quoted statement.

Please advise whether Mr. Oros’ statement suggesting that the Astorino administration is unable to reach agreement with Mount Vernon is accurate. More specifically, did anyone in Mr. Astorino’s administration make any efforts to reach agreement with the city on the renovation of Fourth Street Park?

Very truly yours,

Lyndon D. Williams

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