A New York City Police Department detective says he has 300 signatures on a petition calling for the removal of Dean Skelos’ name from a Rockville Centre sports complex and park after the former State Senate Republican leader was convicted of public corruption.
James Coll, a detective and Hofstra University adjunct professor, said “it really hit home” for him when Skelos and his son, Adam, were arrested during the same week in May when NYPD Officer Brian Moore died two days after being shot in Queens.
Coll, who lives farther east in Nassau, said he passes the Dean Skelos Sports Complex on Peninsula Boulevard almost daily and has often wondered why it was named after the former state senator.
“I know he helped get the money for the park, and I appreciate that. But it should never have been named for him. He was doing his job. He didn’t sacrifice anything. And it seems to me that sacrifice should be the key when we honor people in this way.”
Skelos was convicted this month of federal charges of bribery, extortion and conspiracy. He could not be reached for comment.
Village spokeswoman Julie Scully said, “At this time it would be premature to comment or consider a name change until the [Skelos] appeal process has taken place.”
Coll suggested the park be renamed for Moore or for U.S. Marine Corp 1st Lt. Ronald Winchester, who went to Chaminade High School, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2000 and died in action in Iraq in September 2004, eight days into his second tour of duty.
“He was from Rockville Centre, too,” he said.
Coll — a detective assigned to the Emergency Services Unit and an adjunct professor of American and constitutional history — said his petition has gathered more than 300 signatures.
He hopes more people sign it. “But I know many people who called the village on this. There’s no telling how many years that appeals process could take, and I repeat: No living politician should have a park named after them at taxpayers’ expense.”
Rockville Centre community activist Joseph Thrapp said Skelos secured the park’s grounds for the village in 2003.
He said the park should be named for the founders of the California-based St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which has raised more than $100 million to fight child cancer.