A snowballing petition effort hopes to reverse a state order that has officially changed the name of the Tappan Zee Bridge to the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.
The current Gov. Cuomo, Mario's son Andrew, has gone on the record saying that the effort to change the name back is "hurtful," and being orchestrated by his political opponents. However, many people, including supporters of the Cuomos, disagree.
At last check, more than 83,000 signatures and counting were on the change.org petition, titled "Return the Tappan Zee [to] Its Original Name." It's a direct response to a measure approved by the New York state legislature, after its leaders and Gov. Andrew Cuomo arranged to have his father’s name be the official one for the $4 billon, three mile-long span.
“The governor, in his late night, one o’clock in the morning trickster, which is typical of politicians,” said South Nyack resident Richard Holt, “got his father’s name on it.”
Holt feels the way that many other singers of the petition do. They’re joined by other dissenters, including the 1,400 or so in the "Keep The Name Tappan Zee Bridge" Facebook group.
Regarding the petition specifically, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has now said he thinks the conservative organization Reclaim New York is behind it.
"You have an extreme conservative group that is running a campaign against my father’s name, which personally is hurtful," Cuomo said to reporters on Thursday.
Reclaim New York denies Cuomo’s accusation, even though it has encouraged people to sign the petition. It was initiated by Monroe Mann, a Westchester County resident.
Also denying Cuomo’s claim of political sabotage are people who identify as open-minded voters, like Diana Cutt, another resident of South Nyack, at the west end of the bridge, who also signed the petition.
“I don’t think it’s about politics,” Cutt told PIX11 News. “It’s the heritage of this area. It’s a name that honored the Native American heritage of this area, and the Dutch.”
The western side of the bridge, in Rockland County, New York, was the heart of the Tappan Tribe of American Indians, in colonial times. The tribe has been wiped out, except for its name. Many of the petition’s supporters want to keep the most prominent landmark to have ever borne the Tappan name to keep it.
It’s why the petition is adding a new name every four or five seconds.
Whether or not that can prompt the name to be changed back to the Tappan Zee remains an open question at best.
It’s worth pointing out, however, that many people continue to use the names Battery Tunnel, Queensboro Bridge and even Triboro Bridge, even though those transportation landmarks have been renamed after prominent New York politicians.