State Sen. James Skoufis (D-Hudson Valley) is now the prime sponsor of a bill (S.4558) that would return the Tappan Zee name to the well-trod bridge in Rockland County.
In 2017, then-Governor Andrew Cuomo inserted a proposal to rename the bridge after his father into a larger bill without seeking any feedback or public discourse.
Skoufis said the renaming has stuck in the craw of Hudson Valley residents ever since.
“The long and short of it is our former governor jammed this change down the throat of the Legislature and the entire Hudson Valley,” Skoufis said. “This has been a pain point for my constituents, and I’m proud to lead the charge to return the Tappan Zee name back to its rightful place.”
The bipartisan bill was first introduced by former Sen. Mike Martucci (R-New Hampton), who represented much of Skoufis’ new Orange County district.
Needing a new senator to introduce the legislation this year, Skoufis agreed to champion the bill in the current session.
John McGowan, a Republican from Pearl River and who represents parts of southern Rockland County, is the primary sponsor in the state Assembly.
The New York Post first carried the news on Tuesday of the effort by Skoufis to legislate the restoration of the bridge’s name.
Later Tuesday, a reporter from NY1 asked Gov. Kathy Hochul if she would sign the bill if passed. She said she’d consider it.
WCBS News Radio 880 also reported Tuesday the Skoufis legislative effort in the state Senate, McGowan’s leadership in the Assembly and Hochul’s seemingly warm embrace of the reclaiming the name Tappan Zee.
Mario Cuomo does deserve recognition
Skoufis had his differences with Gov. Andrew Cuomo both during his days in the Assembly and later in his current position. For instance, Cuomo rejected bill passed by both the Assembly and the State that would have given county planning more say and authority in annexation cases. The law grew out of the annexation efforts to incorporate land from the Town of Monroe into the Village of Kiryas Joel. It would not have changed the annexation because it would have been after the fact. But Skoufis argued it would give local authorities greater control of their land.
Cuomo gave no public reason for his decision.
On Tuesday, Skoufis insisted his action had nothing to Mario Cuomo.
“Senator Skoufis believes that former Governor Mario Cuomo should have a public work dedicated to his service,” Emma Fuentes, the senator’s Director of Communications, said in an email exchange with Straus News, “but renaming an iconic Hudson Valley landmark like the TZB isn’t the way to do it.”
- Bob Quinn