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Public Hearing On Blight Set In Mount Vernon

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – The Mount Vernon City Council voted to hold a public hearing Oct. 10 about the results of a blight study in the neighborhood around South Fourth Avenue and what can be done to fix it.

A study done by the city’s Planning Department found that the neighborhood was 58 percent blighted. Council President Roberta Apuzzo said that holding a public hearing is the first step to fixing the problem.

“This area needs urban renewal,” Apuzzo said. “By accepting this as the first step we can plan for the future of Mount Vernon to move forward.”

Council member Deborah Reynolds, who abstained from the vote, disagreed with the term “blighted,” adding that she doesn’t think that the 58 percent figure is accurate. Reynolds said there are eyesores in the neighborhood but the makeup of a "blighted" neighborhood is not there.

Council member Karen Watts-Yehudah said it is disconcerting to label a neighborhood as “blighted,” but by declaring that, some positive change might come about.

“It bothers me because there are some wonderful homes in that neighborhood that get caught up,” Watts-Yehudah said. “I have a problem labeling it ‘blighted,’ but in order to build it up we have to.”

Apuzzo said that getting feedback from the community will help bring better development into the city, adding that the study didn’t just make up the numbers. Apuzzo said this is an opportunity to make unique changes to the city.

“I see brownstones in that neighborhood that could be redeveloped,” Apuzzo said. “We want to give them a new face and bring people into this community.”

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