The family of former County Executive Andrew O’Rourke, who died in January at the age of 79, has expressed interest in having the Westchester County Center renamed after him.
In the mid-1980s, when some pushed to demolish the then 55-year-old County Center rather than paying millions to revamp it, O’Rourke convinced lawmakers to approve a $15.2 million bond to help pay for the $16 million restoration, modernization and expansion of a building he considered an irreplaceable part of Westchester’s landscape.
“My dad did a lot when he was county executive, but one of his greatest achievements was saving the County Center from being torn down,” Andy O’Rourke Jr. told The Journal News/lohud.com. “Facing death, he thought it would be a nice honor to have the building named after him or dedicated to him.”
The younger O’Rourke said his father didn’t initially express an interest in having things named after him. After getting sick, the former county executive started reflecting back on his accomplishments and decided it would be a fitting honor to have the County Center represent his legacy.
Westchester Board of Legislators Chairman Ken Jenkins said county officials are discussing whether to rename the building after O’Rourke, or name the sports arena and convention center after him. He added that the administration of County Executive Rob Astorino has been hesitant to rename the entire County Center after O’Rourke.
Donna Greene, a spokeswoman for Astorino, said a number of options have been put forward, and the county is looking at finding the one most appropriate for honoring O’Rourke, who served as county executive from 1983 to 1997. She declined to say what those options might be.
Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner, who was a county Legislator during the 1980s, supports the family’s idea, and has called on Westchester County to rename the building after O’Rourke.
“Everytime I pass the County Center I think of the leadership qualities Andrew O’Rourke showed when he successfully pushed for the renovation of this tremendous county asset,” Feiner said.
Photo: Former County Executive Andrew P. O’Rourke, shown in 1989, died in January. He was 79. (The Journal News/Frank Becerra Jr.)