Ribbon cutting ceremony at Memorial Field
Westchester County, City of Mount Vernon and Mount Vernon City School District officials were accompanied by local elected officials and other dignitaries in a ceremony on Wednesday, September 21, 2022, to officially open the new Memorial Field. On Saturday, September 24, the Mount Vernon Knights football team will play their first game at Memorial Field since 2007. The team will face the Yonkers Force.
Westchester County Executive George Latimer led the ceremony that culminated in a ribbon cutting. A theme of Latimer’s remarks on the field’s redevelopment was bringing people together. The new field will bring people together, and it also took many people to come together to build it, he said.
“That’s the future of Mount Vernon, partnering with other communities,” Latimer said. He then talked about the city’s youth and the importance of a new Memorial Field in Mount Vernon.
“Young people find themselves in lots of different ways,” Latimer said. “And some find it on an athletic field. There are young people who will, by performing on this field - soccer, field hockey, lacrosse, football, track, maybe even as a competitive skateboarder - that will find themselves and will find their self-esteem through sports. This field becomes a place for some of those expectations to be met and some of those kids to realize that they can perform, and they can achieve; that would be the greatest accomplishment of all.”
Memorial Field has a rich history that includes concerts by the Jackson 5, James Brown, Buddy Rich and Ella Fitzgerald and Coca Cola’s “Mean” Joe Green commercial. The field hosted the New York Giants farm team, the Westchester Bulls, until 1968, it served as the home for the Iona College football team until 1989, and over the years it hosted some of the biggest high school football playoff games in New York.
It had been closed since 2010. The city first signed an agreement with Westchester County to renovate the field in 2008, but the process to get to the opening has been long. In 2018, the city and county reached a new agreement for the county to proceed with the renovation. The contract to finish the field was awarded to The LandTek Group, Inc., which has built sports facility projects throughout the East Coast. Construction has been in progress since the contract approval in 2020.
Unavoidable delays have made Mount Vernon residents wait for their new field, but people will soon be able to use it. The only game planned at the new Memorial Field is their home opener Saturday, and it is not yet open to the public. But that will change soon, Mayor Shawyn Patterson Howard said, “We want the field to be ready for full utilization by spring of 2023.”
The Mount Vernon Knights hope to have a full season of home games at the field next season. The complex includes an eight-lane track, soccer and lacrosse nets, a skate park and seating for almost 4,000 people.
Superintendent Dr. Waveline Bennett-Conroy reminisced about the rich history that Memorial Field has while looking forward to the many new memories that will be created there.
“As the newly appointed superintendent of the Mount Vernon City School District, my mission has been the four R’s: renew, recommit, redesign, and reimagine,” said Dr. Bennett-Conroy “It excited me to see all of you, led by County Executive Latimer, recommit to the project, redesign the field and re-create a stadium worthy of the surrounding communities, allowing families, athletes, scholars and performing artists to gather and revitalize the spirit and hope that was once so prominent in our city.”
State Senator Bailey told the crowd that this field belongs to everyone in the community. The city came together, with the help of Westchester County, to get this done, and Bailey believes that Mount Vernon can do anything it wants when it comes together like that. The promise to renovate the field was kept, and everyone who worked towards that goal understood the value that Memorial Field will bring to Mount Vernon.
“What we have here is a field that’s priceless,” the senator said. “The memories made here are priceless.”
Deputy County Executive Jenkins recognized the hard work and perseverance displayed by everyone involved during his remarks, and he echoed Bailey’s sentiments about coming together to get things done.
New York State Assemblyman James Gary Pretlow is one of the officials that has served since the beginning of the renovations. First elected in 1992 and a former Mount Vernon councilman, he was in office when the field was fully operational. He said that he was proud to see the finished product in a city that means so much to him.
“We've been waiting for this our whole lives,” Jaden Dempsey, a senior on the Mount Vernon Knights football team, said earlier this week. “We’d have to play and practice at Longfellow or the High School.”
“One of the good things is that the boys play youth football with the Mount Vernon Razorbacks, and they always heard those stories about the old field from their coaches and elders while they had to struggle to find places to practice,” Coach Mark “Sparx” Murray said. “These kids have a great understanding of what they were missing out on and they’re so excited to have the opportunity to play a game there and have their own stories.”
The new Memorial Field gives the community an opportunity for more to happen. There will be more events, more field space for Mount Vernon teams, and more time for kids to spend time with their peers. The field is also equipped with lights, making it the perfect location to host Section 1 high school football playoff games.
Latimer concluded the dignitaries’ remarks by saying how everyone worked towards this goal for the people of Mount Vernon.
“We believe that Mount Vernon people deserve a government that cares and delivers results,” he said. “Everything we do is because we believe it should be used by the people. We all own this. This city will rise, and it won’t be alone. A long-time promise that we have delivered. All of you.”
The Mount Vernon City School District held its annual Health Fair on Saturday, June 3, 2023, at Mount Vernon Honor Academy. Families in Mount Vernon came out for a day of outside activities and fun for the children.
All 16 Mount Vernon City School District schools were presented with No Place for Hate (NPFH) Banners at the NPFH Banner Ceremony on Thursday, May 25, 2023. The district became the largest school district in Westchester County to have all of its schools designated as No Place for Hate. They are among the 239 NPFH schools in downstate New York.
Kevon Palmer and Levonn Latham, 11th-grade students at Mount Vernon STEAM Academy, were inducted as 2023-24 My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) fellows on Friday, May 19, 2023. The induction ceremony was held at the annual My Brother’s Keeper Symposium. They traveled to Albany, New York, where the symposium was held, with their mentors Brother Arthur Muhammad, youth development specialist, and Noel Campbell, director of career and technical education.
In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, Fernanda Carvalho, District Psychologist, is offering yoga to students and staff. There were staff yoga sessions at Edward Williams School, Hamilton School, Mount Vernon Honor Academy, and the Education Center throughout the month.
Josephine Kirkland-Hudson has been a school social worker for close to 25 years. She began her educational career in the Yonkers Public School system in 2000 and became the school social worker at Rebecca Turner Elementary School in 2005. Throughout her career, she has always searched for engaging and enriching programs for her students to participate in, including No Place for Hate.
The Mount Vernon City School District needed an extra day to determine the winners of the Board of Trustee race to fill four of the five seats being contested. Following the closing of the polls at 9 pm on Tuesday, May 16, 2023, electronic results were reported and absentee ballots were counted, but 23 affidavit ballots still needed to be verified by the Westchester County Board of Elections and ballots that met residency requirements were counted.