SOMERS, N.Y. -- Muscoot Farm in Somers has been officially renamed to honor former Westchester County Executive Al DelBello, who helped to form it as a county park more than four decades ago.
The farm's official new name, which is prominently displayed on the entry sign facing Route 100, is Alfred B. DelBello Muscoot Farm Park. It was given unanimous approval by the county's Board of Legislators and signed into law by current County Executive Rob Astorino.
The renaming ceremony was held on Thursday.
At the dedication, DelBello's wife, Dee, recalled a trip that they took across Westchester shortly after her husband's election as county executive.
“It was astounding to think that the county owned this place. It was stuff of dreams.”
While the county took possession of the farm, it was eyed at the time for demolition and possible conversion into an ice skating rink, which Dee DelBello called “unthinkable.”
From that point on, DelBello pushed for Muscoot to become a farm park; his wife noted that he wanted it available as a place for inner-city people, like themselves, to get close to animals and to experience farms.
Dee DelBello also noted that her husband was a dedicated conservationist and preservationist.
“He would be so happy trying to envision how they could be re-used, re-adapted and preserved.”
While the DelBellos was active in Yonkers, they eventually moved up to Waccabuc , the late official's biography notes, which allowed him to live a rural lifestyle. Dee DelBello noted, for example, how he would maintain his place during those later years.
In describing the history of the site, Astorino noted that it was owned by the Hopkins family for three generations, as part of a wave of businessmen from New York City, known as "gentlemen farmers," who attained rural lifestyles. The county acquired Muscoot in the 1960s, according to Astorino, and with DelBello's help, it opened as a farm park in 1975.
“So others in county government at the time had all their ideas for this place and they ran the gamut from the impractical to the impossible," Astorino said. "But Al had a vision of what should become of Muscoot and he did what he did best.”
Michael Kaplowitz, a Somers resident and chair of the Westchester County Board of Legislators, praised DelBello for his role as a political and personal mentor.
“The Al DelBello Muscoot Farm is a marriage. It's a marriage of a gentleman and a legacy that deserves to be on that sign because he gave so much.”
The ceremony included the unveiling of an honorary plaque, which was located by one of the buildings, as well as the unveiling of a new entry sign.
While Muscoot Farm received a lot of praise, Dee DelBello added that it still needs help for maintenance and renovation. To assist with these endeavors, she and others plan to help bolster The Friends of Muscoot Farm, and encouraged people to contribute either with funds or with in-kind services.
More information on Muscoot Farm can be found here.