Mount Vernon Boys and Girls Club
Richard J. Garfunkel
June 17, 2008
Ristorante Buena Sera
Mount Vernon, NY
Nice saying hello to all (some of you I know were not there!) of you tonight in Mount Vernon. To reiterate what I said, the community of Mount Vernon must look outward, not inward in its approach. It must be able to tell a story reflective of an ongoing need, and to make that story compelling. MV is in competition with many communities that are, or have been on the wane, over the last three decades since the emergence of the “new right,” agenda, which focuses on self-reliance, divide and conquer and tax relief for the wealthy along with the shrinkage of federalism. In the spirit of that focus, Mount Vernon, not unlike other aging, violence plagued, and debt-strapped municipalities, must look to establish “smart growth” to attract new people, new capital and therefore a new future. By having a workable philo-practical vision, the city can turn the corner. The first essential is to get its house in order, vis-à-vis its youth. The “Boys and Girls Club” can, with the proper funding and leadership, ease the path to “access to opportunity.” Building a new “Boys and Girls Club” Center at Memorial Field for the 13 to 18 year old age group would combine both needs, the need for a new field complex and the need for an expanded youth center. Making the track all-weather and the field synthetic, the facility could be enclosed in the late fall and winter and used for not only indoor track, but commercial usages such as large health fairs, collectible shows, and other commercial endeavors. The key to moving ahead is “sustainable and resilient” growth. It must be able to generate revenues to amortize its debt and add needed extra dollars to enhance the city's treasury. The second effort for the youth of Mount Vernon is school reform, which will serve as a new anchor to keep families in Mount Vernon, attract newcomers and to establish a new generation with solid “roots” in the community. People who stay will be then willing to invest in their future by investing in the city.
With regards to the new Memorial Field, there is adequate parking across the street at Hutchison Field and MV could become the center for indoor winter track and field and Section I football playoffs. It will also attract more and more shoppers to its new and vibrant shopping area anchored by Target. MV's location is great and with the continued escalation of gasoline costs, traveling to Rockland County and West Point for sporting events might and will probably become prohibitive. If the field and its stands are rehabilitated in the right way, the possibility of minor league baseball could also take hold in Mount Vernon. Mount Vernon has produced an inordinate amount of successful entertainers, in and outside of sports, therefore why should it not have a state of the art multi-use facility? From my perspective there must be linkage between the various elements that make up any community. There must be connectivity regarding educational reform, sustainability of the municipality's financial profile, rehabilitation of its core center city, with an emphasis on entertainment, arts and high tech education, jobs, and smart growth regarding energy, and its usage. Even the possibility of having an indoor basketball tournament under the “bubble” could be envisioned. All these things are possible with the right vision and a reasonable plan of action.