A drone shot shows a birds-eye view of the Donald J. Trump State Park in Putnam Valley, N.Y. | John Meore and Peter Carr/The Journal News via AP
ALBANY — The state Assembly has advanced a bill to rename New York’s Donald J. Trump State Park.
Democratic legislators have been seeking to rename the park, a dilapidated and unused collection of more than 400 acres located about eight miles east of Peekskill, since 2015. A committee vote on Wednesday was the first concrete step toward that happening.
“Our parklands should be reflective of New Yorkers that we can be proud of, New Yorkers that have expressed our values,” said Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Queens), who sponsored the bill that was approved by the Tourism Committee. “There are a lot of other New Yorkers who are worthy of the honor of having a park named after themselves.”
Rozic first proposed legislation on the subject four years ago, when she introduced a bill to rename the park after murdered Charlottesville protester Heather Heyer. The measure that moved Wednesday simply requires the state to come up with a new name.
The biggest hurdle to renaming the park has been the way the state obtained the land in 2006. When former President Donald Trump, a Queens native, donated the property he obtained with the intent of building a golf course, he said one of his conditions was that his name “be prominently displayed at least at each entrance to each property.”
The Cuomo administration said at a recent budget hearing that it’s “looking at” changing the name of the park, and is examining factors such as “agreements with the donor.”
Tourism Committee Chair Danny O’Donnell (D-Manhattan) expressed confidence that changing the name would not result in any problematic lawsuits.
“I don’t think [Trump] will have the resources to care when the time comes,” he said. “But maybe he would; he’s sufficiently a narcissist.”
The committee also advanced a bill of O’Donnell’s that would rename Robert Moses State Park on Long Island. His memo on that bill cites criticisms of the master builder such as how he worked to “inhibit communities of color from sharing in New York’s postwar prosperity.”
That bill is unlikely to pass the full chamber this year, the sponsor said during Wednesday’s meeting. He had simply intended to “start a conversation,” but has since met with an “avalanche” of feedback from Long Islanders “who had a variety of both insane ideas like ‘you want to name it after your sister’” — actress Rosie O’Donnell — “or offensive ideas” about the propriety of racism.
Rozic, for her part, was optimistic this is the year the Trump bill might become law.
“We’ve been working on this for a number of years, and I certainly am hopeful that it will get the green light and move forward,” she said. “At the end of the day, we want people to be able to appreciate parkland and be able to visit it without stigma, without shame, and we want to be able to be proud of our open spaces.”
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