MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – The Mount Vernon City Council voted to accept a study that found the neighborhood around S. 4th Ave. to be 58 percent blighted, citing a chance to rejuvenate the area.
Council President Roberta Apuzzo said that houses being sold across the city for less than market value is “absurd” and is one of the reasons she voted to accept the study. Apuzzo said that this is only the beginning to potentially help urban renewal in that area. Vince Ferrandino, principal of Ferrandino & Associates, Inc. who performed the study, said that the next step is to develop an urban renewal plan, adding that he plans to meet with city officials next week.
“This is exactly what we need to move forward,” Apuzzo said. “I have been on the south side of Mount Vernon for 20 years in one capacity or another. It’s not safe, clean or healthy and the only way to get the drug addicts out of the community is to make the place pretty.”
Council member J. Yuhanna Edwards said that blight is a harsh word and hopes that a different word can be used to describe the area. But said he voted for the study because it’s a chance to revitalize the area.
“I used to have a business in that area and didn’t make money because there were too many illegal drugs being sold around there,” Edwards said. “I know what the area is and it needs change.”
Council member Karen Watts-Yehudah said that the terminology used to describe the area is a front to each person in the community who believes that Mount Vernon is a positive place.
“Blight hits as a negative word but whether it should or shouldn’t be called that is another issue,” Watts-Yehudah said. “The redevelopment of Mount Vernon will come in several phases. It doesn’t indicate what we will put in place there.”
All members of the City Council voted to approve the blight study except Council member Deborah Reynolds who abstained from the vote.