Statement from U.S. Congressman ELIOT ENGEL
RALLY FOR ATLANTIC DEVELOPMENT
JULY 20, 2011
I’m sorry I cannot be with you today, but I am in Washington trying to stop the Republicans from doing to the country what they are trying to do to Mount Vernon.
This is an opportunity to help Mount Vernon’s economic development and put people back to work by building housing, one of life’s necessities. But the county Board of Acquisition and Contract is thwarting the will of the people and its elected representatives by stalling the project.
The County Board of Legislators approved the project, twice, the second time to override the County Executive’s veto. The money has been set aside in the County budget, but still not allowed to flow to this project.
Building new housing is a giant first step to developing a neighborhood and, eventually, a city. The money used to build housing circulates throughout the community helping neighborhood merchants and, through taxes, the city and the county. Housing helps to develop and strengthen the middle class, which is the economic backbone of our country.
But this is not only for housing. Atlantic Development will create new retail space, renovate the municipal parking garage, and enhance the downtown area with new lighting, paving, and landscaping. Plus an estimated 400 new jobs.
Now is when government should be helping development, when the economy is down and people are out of work. It is when times are bad that government must step in to help. It is during the good times that government isn’t needed. The Republicans have it exactly backwards.
Mount Vernon needs housing, and it needs redevelopment. Westchester County will benefit from this project.
This is the time for the government to step in and jump-start our economic comeback. The people demand it, the economy demands it. The people have spoken; they want this housing and downtown redevelopment, and County government must listen to them. This is a strong and vital project that will make Mount Vernon a stronger and more vibrant city.