Ask Westchester: Stone Cold Answers

Q: What’s going on with Memorial Field in Mount Vernon? It was set to be demolished and replaced with a new sports complex, but the sign has Spano’s name on it, and work seems to have stopped. Did Astorino cut funding? Will it just sit there in ruins? —Sylvia Gray, Elmsford

A: It’s vacant because of Rob Astorino’s “Just Say Span-No” plan, refusing to complete any project started by his rival-party predecessor. Okay, that’s a complete fabrication. But in New York politics, you could imagine it, right? The problem is way less sexy. Money allocated to the city through the county’s Legacy Program—which uses capital budget funds and bonds to preserve open space and create recreational facilities, and is the reason, for example, that White Plains has those big beautiful soccer fields near the Mamaroneck border (and yet no lit basketball courts—Rob!)—went unused because Mount Vernon’s city council couldn’t get its act together to raise its share of the cost. But in August 2011, it did, and began $12.7 million in renovations to turn the deteriorating brick bastion, once home to a minor-league football team, into an illuminated, synthetic-turf football/soccer field, with an all-weather eight-lane track, ticket booth, concession stand, bathrooms, press box, new score board, and other nifty amenities.    

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Q: There is a big fortress-like building going up near the intersection of Routes 35 and 22 in Bedford. It looks like a prison—all stone exterior with tiny windows on top. Now a turret or tower is being added. What the heck is it? —Scott Gladstein, White Plains

A: It is Rob Astorino’s new fortress of solitude, where he spends his days pondering what to do with the Dragon Coaster. Okay, not really. We love ya Rob, and we’ll stop picking on you here, we promise. What you see is a new water filtration plant designed to tap into the Delaware Aqueduct and provide uncontaminated H2O to local residents—whether they want to be in the bucolic town or not. That’s right, a quarter of the cost was picked up by the New York State Department of Corrections so that prisoners in the two nearby correctional facilities could have fresh water to drink. So maybe that is a turret after all.

Q: What’s the “Old Put”? —Michael Kevin Luke, via e-mail

A: It’s what they call your grandmother’s golf game. Sorry. But we haven’t received a setup like that since someone asked us how many turkeys there were in Westchester (November 2010). Old Put is actually the nickname for the Putnam Division of the New York Central Railroad, which originally connected the very northern tip of Manhattan to Brewster. When the railroad folded years ago, the North and South County Trailways sprang up in much of its path. The Old Put’s legacy rumbles on, though; plaques denote former stops, and some really spiffy buildings once used as stations inspire the awesome nostalgia only an old railroad station turned library (Briarcliff Manor), restaurant (Casaletto Restaurant in Elmsford), etc., can provide.

Construction on Memorial Field was paused, not scrapped.

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