New York legislators advance bill to rename Donald J. Trump State Park
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The New York State Assembly advanced a bill Wednesday to rename Donald J. Trump State Park.
The Empire State’s tourism committee voted 14-7 to move forward with the legislation.
Democratic Assemblywoman Nily Rozic first introduced the issue four years ago in a bill where she proposed to rename the park after Heather Heyer, who was killed in 2017 when a man drove a car into a crowd protesting a White nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va.
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“Our parklands should be reflective of New Yorkers that we can be proud of, New Yorkers that have expressed our values,” Rozic told Politico. “There are a lot of other New Yorkers who are worthy of the honor of having a park named after themselves.”
Notably, Democratic state Sen. Brad Hoylman brought forward a similar measure in 2020.
The 430-acre park on the border of Putnam and Westchester counties has sat largely underutilized since its namesake donated the land in 2006, initially intending to build a championship golf course when he bought the parcels in 1998.
An agreement signed in 2006 conditions that Donald Trump’s name be “prominently displayed at least at each entrance to each property.”
Then-Gov. George Pataki announced the donation in a statement and Trump said the park was his way of “trying to give back” and that he hoped the park would “turn into one of the most beautiful parks anywhere in the world.”
In 2016, Pataki told Time Warner Cable’s “Capital Tonight” that he was “unhappy” the 45th president’s name was attached to the property, to which Trump told the Associated Press: “If they want, they can give me the land back.”
There was also controversy surrounding the purchase and transfer of the “passive park.”
FILE – In this Jan. 12, 2021, file photo, former President Donald Trump tours a section of the U.S.-Mexico border wall in Alamo, Texas. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
The Queens native originally bought the undeveloped, protected land for more than $2.7 million, but met resistance by local opposition in part due to environmental laws related to a nearby reservoir.
It was then that Trump made the move to donate the land to the state — managing to get the same property reappraised at a value of more than $26 million — and receiving a tax write-off in the process.
Time reported in 2019 that the state stopped tending to the park in 2010 — angering Trump — which notably has few amenities or paths to maintain.
The state’s commissioner of parks, recreation and historic preservation, Erik Kulleseid, told lawmakers at a budget hearing last month that he was “evaluating” the 2006 agreement, he had received messages about rebranding the park and that Trump’s request to keep his name on the property is not in the deed for the donation.
Tourism Committee Chair Danny O’Donnell told Politico that he doesn’t foresee any legal challenges from Trump in changing the name.
“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.”
“In 2006, President Donald J. Trump donated in excess of 430 acres of land in Westchester and Putnam counties to the State of New York so that a park could be created for the enjoyment of all NY State’s citizens,” a Trump Organization spokesperson told Fox News on Thursday. “Despite the fact that the State has done a horrible job running and maintaining the park in question, an utter disgrace to such incredible land and a generous donation, the conditions of this gift, formally documented and accepted by the State of New York, could not be clearer: the park must bear President Trump’s name.
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“The State would be breaching its agreement by removing President Trump’s name and President Trump will take whatever legal action that may be necessary to fully enforce his rights under this agreement,” they said.
In January, New York City’s Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the city would sever all financial ties with the Trump Organization — stripping the Trump name from ice skating rinks, a carousel and a golf course.
Fox News’ request for comment from Rozic and Daniel Mackay, the deputy commissioner of New York State Parks’ Division for Historic Preservation, was not immediately returned.
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