Years Of Bickering Between Local Leaders Comes To An End; County's Project To Include New Tennis Courts And State-Of-The-Art Track

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A historic sports field in Westchester County has been at the center of a bruising battle for years.

Now, a truce has been declared, and the days of disrepair soon may come to an end, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported Thursday.

Memorial Field in Mount Vernon was once the pride of the city, including a Hollywood moment in that famous “Mean” Joe Greene Coca-Cola commercial.

For 20 years, the field has been deteriorating, with local leaders bitterly at odds over what to do. One mayor even called in a bulldozer to tear down parts that a previous mayor wanted to preserve.

“Each mayor that came in was trying to trump the next mayor. It became a whole political football. So by taking it out of the hands of all the mayors and passing it on to somebody that doesn’t really have any other interest other than to get it done was the right idea,” Mount Vernon City Council member Andre Wallace said.

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Westchester is now taking a stand and control, and has the paperwork to prove it. The county will design and build a new Memorial Field, and it will include state-of-the-art track and tennis courts.

Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas promised two years ago he’d get it done, but the political dysfunction and feuding in the city derailed his plan.

But after some initial reluctance, he’s now embracing the county involvement.

County Executive George Latimer said it’s important to show government can get this done. His high school graduation was held at Memorial Field in 1970. Latimer wants the new field ready for his 50th reunion in 2020.

“My message is this: Government can work if people are committed to making it work. I’m a son of Mount Vernon and I’m committed to making this work,” Latimer said.

The city and state are also putting in several million dollars. After the county completes the project, it will give control of the field back to Mount Vernon.