MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – Residents speaking at a public hearing Wednesday night were mostly in favor of the City Council's accepting a study that found an area around South Fourth Avenue to be “blighted.”
Vincent Ferrandino, principal of Ferrandino and Associates, which conducted the study with city officials, said the area in question is 58 percent “blighted” and is prime for revitalization. Ferrandino and Associates, of Elmsford, conducted the study on behalf of MVP Realty Associates, a New York City developer that owns several properties on the west side of South Fourth Avenue.
Resident Cathlin Gleason-Boncardo said she sees no negatives in the council's accepting the study and moving to clean up the neighborhood.
“This can only help the area,” Gleason-Boncardo said. “I strongly encourage the City Council to accept the study because Mount Vernon can only benefit from it, especially that area.”
Bishop William Ewell, associate minister of the New Hope Cornerstone Church, which sits in the area that was studied, said he supports a revitalization effort but is concerned over the direction the area would go if buildings start getting knocked down. Ewell said he is also concerned that the city let some of the buildings deteriorate over time in the first place.
“The city could have stepped in a long time ago,” Ewell said. “We need to talk about how crime can be remedied and examine what would be given to the community, keeping in mind its best interest. We just don’t want it shoved down our throats and then be told to deal with it.”
For resident Robert Latimer, a member of the Peacekeepers, a civilian group that helps keeps the community safe, accepting the study can’t come soon enough. Latimer said that in some buildings on South Fifth Avenue, drugs are sold.
“All the drug addicts come into a building there, which should be torn down,” Latimer said. “They sell blunts and drugs out there all day. When it rains, the scaffolding comes down like thunder.”
But not every resident was in support of the study. Resident Mike Sklar questioned why the building codes weren’t being enforced in the neighborhood.
“I could have walked down the street and told you it’s a disaster,” Sklar said. “I’m against the whole thing because there is no money for it.”