"Just let me
build the golf course — I’m rich, you’ll like it."
Trump to Town of Yorktown Supervisor Linda Cooper.
In the mid-late 1990s
Donald Trump acquired the 155-acre French Hill property, located in the
Town of Yorktown and adjacent to the Taconic State Parkway. Trump
planned to build a golf course on what he called "a
fabulous property, a spectacular site." Trump indicated
that the Town of Yorktown was supportive of the plan, but Town
Supervisor Linda Cooper cautioned
that the project's impact on the local water supply and access
to and from the Taconic State Parkway were key issues that warranted
detailed examination. Impatient with the environmental review and
permitting process, Trump announced
in a letter to Cooper in 2002 (long before he would have been
able to tweet to the entire world) that he would instead sell the
property to housing developers. Cooper's response to the Journal News
was that Trump was "the bully on the playground.... Whether you are
a big person or a little person, you have to follow the same rules.”
However the housing scenario also seemed to have an unlikely outcome, and in 2006
Trump donated the land, approximately 430 acres in all including
~280 acres known as Indian Hill," to New York State as
parkland. Of course, the site is known as Donald
J. Trump State Park.
With an operating budget of $2,500 annually, little was to be done with
the site as Trump did not include an endowment with his land donation. Proposals and suggestions, including a dog park, have come and
gone without the funds necessary to support them. The abandoned buildings have been grafittied and repainted, and
are now slated
for demolition. While not everyone's idea of a "park" (inclusive
of a visitor center, informational signs, paved and maintained surfaces) the
property does contain woodlands
and old stone walls and surely must be a haven for wildlife. It is a nice place to wander and enjoy solitude and nature.
The property seems to have once belonged to William
Delavan Baldwin, a former President of the Otis Elevator Company
in Yonkers who, in 1928, donated 25 acres of his estate for the
construction of the Bronx River Parkway Extension, now the Taconic State
Parkway. I've yet to determine which house served as Baldwin's
residence. Perhaps this beauty at 1550
Old Baldwin Road, still privately owned and occupied, was
the Baldwin estate mansion. The "main house"
at Trump State Park is a rambling assemblage of structures that seems
like a meager residence/garage for a caretaker. The other structures are
recreational buildings, including a swimming pool and changing room,
tennis court (with lots of errant, defuzzed balls to be found in the
overgrown brush), and what seems to have been a volleyball lawn and
additional changing rooms. A large foundation of perhaps a barn is found
beyond the recreational area, and other ruins include a stone wall,
stone steps, and ruins of a couple small cottages or sheds.