MacLaren Name Stays Put

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Town tables renaming Levittown park

MacLaren Park (Photo source: Google Maps)

The Town of Hempstead has withdrawn the proposal by a councilman that would have renamed Levittown’s MacLaren Field after a longtime county Republican official.

Councilman Dennis Dunne had submitted the resolution to name the football field, basketball court, tee-ball field and other parts of MacLaren Stadium after Nassau County’s former GOP leader Joseph Mondello, as the “Ambassador Joseph N. Mondello Athletic Complex.” Mondello, who was named the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in June, had reportedly asked that his name be withdrawn from consideration.

“While I appreciate the sentiments behind this proposal it is an honor I did not seek nor was even aware of until the resolution became public knowledge late last week,” according to a statement from Mondello. “As a veteran myself, I would never want to supplant a veteran of World War II and Purple Heart recipient, Ernest MacLaren, from the honor he so richly earned in the service of our country. Just having the opportunity to serve our nation as its ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago is honor enough for me.”

Earnest Hamilton MacLaren was a Levittown resident and Navy veteran who was awarded the Purple Heart during World War II. Town Supervisor Laura Gillen said at the town meeting on Aug. 7 that she disagreed with the proposed renaming of the field.

“I respectfully disagree with this action,” she said, “which could possibly diminish the memory of a veteran who proudly served our nation during World War II and then returned home and continued his service to our community.”

Dunne said in a statement that his proposal was not meant to dimish the legacy of MacLaren.

“Honoring the defenders of our nation’s freedom is something about which I feel strongly,” said Dunne. “I also would never wish to diminish the legacy of a brave veteran, such as Ernest MacLaren, for whom a Levittown recreation facility has been named. What’s more, Ambassador Mondello has indicated that he does not wish to have a portion of the facility named in his honor.”

While reports say the resolution was withdrawn, Levittown Community Council second vice president Louise Cassano warned that the proposal was actually tabled—meaning that it could come up again for consideration at a later date.

“The issue on renaming MacLaren Field in Levittown has not been resolved as believed by the public. Despite a Facebook post by Councilman Dennis Dunne on Monday that he was withdrawing his proposal to rename MacLaren Field to the Ambassador Joseph N. Mondello Athletic Complex, the proposal was not withdrawn, rather it was tabled,” said Cassano “This is a procedure that allows board members to kill discussion and public comment on an issue or to bring the proposal back to the floor when they are aware that the vote will go in their favor. A large number of people—both current Levittown residents and people who had moved out of state but hold Levittown memories dear to their hearts—were opposed to this renaming. Levittown residents should be vigilant and look for this issue on the town board agenda at a future date.”

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