Official Day Labor Site In the Works for Mamaroneck:
Fayette Avenue Shelter Would Replace Columbus Park
by Harold Wolfson and Judy Silberstein
(June 16, 2004) Mamaroneck
Village Mayor Philip J. Trifiletti announced that the board
of designating a parcel
of village-owned property on Fayette Avenue as an official
day laborer site to replace Columbus Park, which has been
used as an unofficial site for generations.
laborers who congregate in Columbus Park may soon have
a new spot and shelter on Fayette Avenue.
made the announcement on Tuesday, June 8 at an LMC-TV program
about day laborers, but the decision has
planning and discussion with the Hispanic Resource Center.
The Center has been advocating for a site that is
safer for workers
and less of an intrusion for local residents.
“This is a win/win situation for both the Village
and the day laborers,” the mayor said. He added that
the plan still required approval by the board, but he expects
that to be forthcoming.
According to Village Manager Lenny
Verrastro, Hispanic Resource Center Director Harold Lasso
will appear at the June 28 board work session to present
details of the project. Volunteers have already come forward
to help with design, materials and labor.
The workers are not expected to move until late in the
summer. If the board approves, the Resource Center will lease
the land for a nominal rent, and will share the cost of portable
toilets with the Village. Erecting and overseeing the shelter
will be the responsibility of the Center.
Mr. Lasso said he was grateful that the Village has recognized
the day laborer process as a legitimate part of the local
economy. He said, “With the new site, local residents
will not be annoyed at seeing groups of seemingly aimless
men hanging around a park. And we will be better able to
interface with the workers and learn what is happening on
the job and in their lives. We want to help them with English
lessons, training in work skills and safety, health and other
The Fayette Avenue property is a narrow, wedge-shaped parcel
abutting the Sheldrake River, across the street from the
Mamaroneck Squash Club. Mr. Verrastro noted that the area
is a light industrial zone that can accommodate trucks that
show up to pick up day laborers.
Douglas Mooney, owner of the Cornerstone construction company
of Larchmont and a panelist on the TV program, said that
his employees will contribute some of the expertise and labor
for the all-weather shelter. He said the day laborers provide
an important contribution to the local economy. “We
definitely have a laborer shortage locally,” he said. “These
men bring with them lots of skills.”
A number of day laborers have told Mr. Lasso they want
to help with the shelter, too.
On a recent morning, there were only a handful of “jornaderos” waiting
at Columbus Park in search of day labor. Asked about the
shelter, all three said it would be a good thing. “Pues
sería bueno,” said one worker, who declined
to give his name. He was willing to do whatever work was
the shelter. But all three expressed “unas dudas” – some
doubts that the new site would attract the employers.
“Aquí - la gente conoce,” people know about
this spot, but a new place…? That problem has already
been addressed: there will be signs at the new and old location
directing workers and employers to the correct place, said
Furthermore, the current spot may soon become the site of
a major construction project. A developer, John Lese, has
a proposal in the works to erect condominiums near the park. “It
would be a nightmare congestion-wise while construction
would be going on,” said Mr. Verrastro. Though the
project may not start for some time, getting a new spot for
the day laborers now will avoid potential problems later
on down the road.
Harold Wolfson volunteers
with the Hispanic Resource Center and the Local Summit.