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Mount Vernon Council Discusses Beautification Bill

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – Council member Deborah Reynolds questioned legislation put forth by Council member Richard Thomas to beautify Mount Vernon, saying that it’s not the government’s place to tell residents what to do.

Reynolds took exception with language in the ordinance that stated “at your own risk” when it comes to cleaning up public property. Reynolds said that the taxpayers of the city already pay for a public works department to pick up trash and clean the city.

“If you litter, there is a fine, so the building department should take this up,” Reynolds said. “If they want to volunteer to pick up trash, that’s their business but we shouldn’t tell residents what they should do when it comes to picking up garbage.”

Thomas said that the ordinance he proposed is about more than just picking up trash and added that when the city takes inventory of what’s going on, it could help reduce the city’s carbon footprint.

“It goes back to empowering people to take ownership over their neighborhoods,” Thomas said. “I’ve talked to DPW workers and they feel like they are overworked. Look at Kingsbridge Garden or Fleetwood where they take pride in their neighborhoods. We should support them to keep Mount Vernon beautiful.”

Council member Karen Watts-Yehudah said there used to be a time in the city when there was a massive cleanup effort known as “Pride Day,” in which city commissioners and community leaders went out with volunteers to clean up neighborhoods. Watts-Yehudah said there are laws in place to clean up 18 inches from the curb of one’s property but it’s never done.

“I think the focus of this is to get the community involved,” Watts-Yehudah said. “If you see a piece of garbage on your street, pick it up because it helps everybody.”

The Mt. Vernon City Council will discuss the ordinance further before voting on it.

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