SOMERS, N.Y. - Muscoot Farm has been renamed after former county executive Alfred B. DelBello, in recognition of his contributions to the farm’s development during his tenure from 1974 to 1982.
A ceremony took place Thursday morning (Sept. 22) at the park’s visitor center. A plaque and a sign were unveiled as DelBello’s wife, Dee; County Executive Rob Astorino; Board of Legislators Chair Michael Kaplowitz; and County Parks Commissioner Kathleen O’Connor all said a few words about DelBello, who died in May 2015.
“[DelBello’s] contribution to Westchester County was invaluable,” Kaplowitz said.
DelBello became Westchester’s first Democratic county executive in 1974 after moving from Yonkers, where he served as mayor for four years. The county had acquired Muscoot Farm in 1967 and DelBello was enamored with it upon his family’s arrival. Nothing fascinated him more than to find land and envision how it could be used, adapted or renovated, his wife said.
When they first arrived, Dee DelBello added, the couple was astounded that the county had such a beautiful property. She said shortly after taking office, he took it off the “cutting board” and developed it into the farm park it is today.
“Al was so very proud of his accomplishment,” she said, adding that he wanted “inner city people like us” to be able to be close to animals and nature and experience that part of the county’s history. A true lover of the land, she said he could frequently be found on his tractor when he wasn’t at work.
Prior to being acquired by the county, the property was a gentleman’s farm, County Executive Rob Astorino said, meaning it was run for leisure rather than profit.
“We will officially rename a gentleman’s farm after the true gentleman of Westchester,” Astorino said. “Al had the vision to develop this magnificent property into a fun destination that would help generations of Westchester families and regional visitors to appreciate the history and place of agriculture in the county.”
Astorino said the farm “is living history that never gets old” and “a gift that has been given to us for 41 years.”
DelBello’s great accomplishment, Astorino said, was that he preserved the farm’s history while positioning Muscoot for the future. The renaming of Muscoot Farm was unanimously approved by the County Board of Legislators.
“We unanimously voted,” said Kaplowitz, “because we know the next generation will appreciate the farm.”
By renaming the farm, future generations will inquire about who he was, Kaplowitz said, and through that, DelBello’s memory will live on.