Donald J. Trump State Park – Mahopac, New York - Atlas Obscura

Donald J. Trump State Park

Mahopac, New York

This forlorn park is the result of a failed investment turned tax dodge.  

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Donald J. Trump State Park is covered in weeds, wild brush, and the foundations of abandoned homes. It’s not even listed on the New York State Parks website. 

Donald J. Trump State Park was created as a result of Trump’s failed attempt to build a golf course in upstate New York. Trump purchased the 436 acres in the 1990s for around $2 million, intending to develop a private golf course. When his plans were foiled by surrounding towns, he eventually gave the land to New York as a “gift” so it could be turned into a park. (Which would be required to display his name at each entrance.)

While Trump described the donation as a charitable act, reporting by Bloomberg notes that Trump used the value of the gift as a tax write-off, and asked local officials to value the land at five times its assessed value to maximize savings on his taxes. Further, in 2016, documents from the Trump campaign listed the value of the donated land as $26.1 million, which means that Trump either inflated his charitable giving or lied about the size of his donation to maximize the tax write-off.

The parkland itself has never managed to rise above its ignominious origins. Given an operating budget of $2,500 a year, very little development happened, especially after asbestos was found in some of the abandoned buildings, which have since been mostly demolished. The park even shuttered for several years due to budget constraints. (Trump threatened legal action and to take back the land, although nothing came of it.) 

Today the park is back open. Apart from a small parking lot, a few signs, and a little mowed grass, not much has been done with the land. But there are unmarked paths to stroll, and given the lack of promotion (a rarity for anything named after Trump), those hikers who do check out the park report that it is pleasant and peaceful.

 

Know Before You Go

Just off the Taconic State Parkway.