New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney is introducing two bills to honor two former Hudson Valley congressmen — Democrat Maurice Hinchey and Republican Ben Gilman. Maloney wants to add their names to local landmarks associated with their efforts.
Maloney, a Democrat representing the 18th District, wants to honor the late Maurice Hinchey by adding his name to the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area.
“There was nothing more important to Congressman Hinchey than the preservation and celebration of this extraordinary natural area we all live in called the Hudson River Valley,” Maloney said. “And this natural heritage area, which he created, extends from Saratoga Springs in the north all the way down to the city."
Hinchey had suffered from a rare neurological disorder and died in November at age 79. Hinchey's daughter Michelle says the naming would be a fitting tribute.
"My father lived with a profound love of the Hudson Valley and the Hudson River. He would often clear his mind by going for long walks in the woods behind our house or, more pointedly, he’d sometimes disappear for hours only to be found sitting in his car overlooking the Hudson thinking of ways to make our area stronger,” Michelle Hinchey said. “He’d often remark, with his hand outstretched, on the beauty of the river or the majesty of the mountains. It was never lost on him how lucky we were to be living in such a beautiful place surrounded by such rich history."
Maloney announced the bill in honor of Hinchey at Locust Grove in Poughkeepsie. And he speaks of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area.
"It is home to some of the most important historic locations in our country, from Hyde Park to the Vanderbilt Mansion to West Point to Washington’s Headquarters in Newburgh, and so many others. And Congressman Hinchey recognized this,” said Maloney. “And he also had a real passion for the natural area in its natural state."
Republican state Senator Sue Serino was on hand to show her support.
“The Hudson River and our area’s natural resources are some of our greatest assets, and we have a duty to protect and preserve them,” Serino said. “Congressman Hinchey made the preservation of our environment a priority throughout his career in public service, and his dedication to that cause has played a direct role in helping to preserve so much of what makes our area great."
Maloney says Hinchey served with passion, dignity and heart.
"If renaming it after Maurice Hinchey reminds us that we all have work to do to finish his work, to finish the job of cleaning up the PCBs, to make sure that we are serious about a sustainable future for the river, in going after ill-guided proposals like the anchorages proposal, which I’m sure he would have hated, and which so many of us worked to kill, and yet working with the Coast Guard in a way that addresses the legitimate safety issues but puts the river and the people who depend on it at the center of that decision-making,” Maloney said. “That's the legacy of Maurice Hinchey."
Michelle Hinchey says she appreciated the lawmakers’ support.
“I know that if he were here today, he would be incredibly humbled and sincerely proud. Thank you,” said Michelle Hinchey.
“Well, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I don’t know why Maurice has to be the last Hinchey in Congress,” Maloney said. “This would, keep your eye on this person. She would be a terrific member of Congress."
Maloney says the bill has a Republican co-sponsor: Peter King of Long Island.
"Congressman King and Congressman Hinchey went to Congress in the same year, in 1992. And they knew each other and they served together. So I went to Pete and I said, will you do this with me, it’ll be easier to get it passed, and it should be bipartisan, and I’m thrilled that he’s on it. I think you’ll see that we’ll get other bipartisan members of Congress together to support this legislation,” said Maloney. “I should also mention that he worked, Congressman Hinchey worked closely with another congressman from our area, Ben Gilman, on the heritage area. Congressman Gilman was an original co-sponsor of that legislation."
Gilman died in December 2016 at age 94. He represented the Middletown area in Congress for 30 years, including a stint as chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Although he rose to national prominence in this position, Gilman also was known for his commitment to local communities in Orange County, especially Middletown. He served on the House Post Office and Civil Service Committee and believed that the mail was the one part of government that touched every American. As such, Maloney announced his bill to add Gilman’s name to the Middletown Post Office at 40 Fulton Street.