One day after Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial began, the state Assembly advanced legislation that would remove his name from a sprawling green space in Putnam and Westchester counties.
The Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development Committee approved the bill in a 14-7 vote Feb. 10.
The legislation to rename Donald J. Trump State Park, which lies approximately 35 miles north of the Bronx border, was first introduced by Assemblymember Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows) in 2017. She proposed renaming it “Heather D. Heyer State Park” after the 32-year-old woman killed in August 2017 while protesting a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. when a right-wing terrorist drove into a crowd.
“I’ve been working to rename Donald J. Trump State Park for years and while I’ve had significant public support from the start, it’s safe to say that the insurrection changed the dynamic,” Rozic told the Chronicle Feb. 16. “The attempted coup on January 6th was a stark reminder that words matter — they can incite violence and they can inspire peace. Similarly, what we name a state park and what that name represents as it concerns our values also matters. I imagine that reminder helped spark movement on my legislation.”
Three days after the Assembly committee voted to advance the bill erasing Trump’s name from the premises, the U.S. Senate voted to acquit Trump of “incitement of insurrection” against the U.S. government, encouraging “lawless action at the Capitol.”
In spite of the Senate’s decision not to convict Trump, Rozic is hopeful the country, particularly New York State, will heal in other ways.
“Now that the bill has passed through committee and was reported to the floor, I am hopeful it will be given a full vote and a chance to become law,” Rozic continued.
Trump donated the land to New York State in 2006 after business plans to build a 436-acre golf course fell through. According to a letter from Henry Hocherman, Trump’s then-lawyer, to the state Attorney General’s Office, one of the conditions of the land transfer was to name the green space after the businessman, with his name “prominently displayed at least at each entrance to each property.”
Despite being a state Parks and Recreation Department green space, the park does not appear on its website.
Though Rozic’s push is to rename the park in Heyer’s memory, a petition to rename the space after New York-born folk singer Peter Seeger has gained widespread popularity. Seeger was an environmental activist prior to his death in 2014. He and his wife, Toshi, founded the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, which advocates for the protection of the Hudson River and surrounding wetlands and waterways. As of Feb. 17, the petition had gained nearly 24,000 signatures.
The state Senate version of the bill, which was introduced by Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) and has four co-sponsors, still sits in its Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation Committee.