MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – After years of delays, debate, public outcries and citywide frustration, construction has begun in earnest at the Memorial Field Tennis Center in Mount Vernon.
Memorial Field, once a teeming and vibrant hub of recreation for athletes throughout Westchester County, has been in a blighted state for several years as state and local politicians debated and haggled over how to best renovate the location.
One thing that has been constant is the desire to build a tennis center, which will allow the city to generate at least some revenue from the field while the debate rages about what to do with the rest of the field. Earlier this year, the Mount Vernon Board of Estimate and Contracts opened the bidding process for steel framework at the tennis facility, which began on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, steel beams that will frame the building were installed, with construction on that phase of the project expected to be completed “very soon.”
Once completed, the ground floor of the tennis center will feature a pro shop, reception area, office, concession stands, locker rooms and a viewing section overlooking the courts. The second floor will include a sizable multi-purpose room, additional viewing areas and restrooms.
In its prime, Memorial Field, which was built in the late 1920s, was one of the most prominent and highly populated parks in Westchester County. Officials have been proposing and reviewing ideas to renovate the field, but they’ve been stuck in a holding pattern for more than two years.
In an effort to expedite renovation efforts at Memorial Field, Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow pledged more than $1 million to offset construction costs - including some of the steelwork for the tennis facility – including a $250,000 stipend to make much-needed repairs in the municipal parking lot, which has been in disarray for a decade.
Mount Vernon Mayor Ernest Davis stated that Memorial Field has become a hotbed political issue over the years, as consternation in the city continues to grow as progress remains slow.
“Much has been said about the reconstruction of Memorial Field, be it god, bad or in different, the stories persist. Nonetheless we move forward,” Davis said when accepting the money from Pretlow. "Some politicians made it their platform to create and spread untruths and rumor mills instead of banding together and assist in the positive venture of completing this project; a project that will benefit not only the Mount Vernon populace, but its surrounding communities as well.”
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