The years-long controversy over the name of Malverne’s Lindner Place is nearing an end, as the village board announced on Sept. 7 that the street would be renamed Acorn Way.
The name began to attract attention following the 2020 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The incident brought renewed scrutiny to buildings, streets and monuments whose names were linked to racial discrimination and white supremacy.
Then village resident T.J. Magno created an online petition to rename Lindner Place, which has collected over 5,700 signatures. Many students in the Malverne Union Free School District, and especially Malverne Senior High School, advocated for the renaming.
Lindner Place was named after Paul Lindner, a farmer, bank president and major landowner in Malverne who was also a prominent leader in the Ku Klux Klan at the height of the organization’s influence in the 1920s.
The push for a new street name elicited a range of strong reactions, both for and against the idea. One village resident who spoke to the Herald in 2020, but who declined to be identified, complained of the costs the change might incur. “These folks are naive enough to think the village will pay for this change,” the resident said. “They obviously have no idea of how a small village government works.”
Jamie Bellamy, who lives on Lindner place and took a leading role in the renaming process, said that she had received an anonymous letter asserting that she was “foolish for inciting evil.”
Others, however, offered strong support for the name change. “There’s simply no room for racism, or glorifying racism, in Malverne or anywhere else in the world,” Laura Intranuovo-McDugle, who grew up in Malverne, told the Herald in 2020.
Kareena Sukhnanan, who graduated from Malverne High in June, echoed these sentiments. “The name ‘Lindner Place’ commemorates hate and violence, something our distinct school community and learning atmosphere doesn’t condone,” Sukhnanan wrote in an award-winning essay submitted to Erase Racism, an organization dedicated to fighting structural racism.
A renaming committee for the street was created earlier this year to advise the village board on next steps. While the names of a number of prominent figures from Malverne were suggested to replace Lindner, the committee decided against renaming the street after a person, to avoid the perception of favoritism.
The committee then compiled a list of 35 suggested names and released them in an online poll. Residents cast a total of 209 votes, and Acorn received the most, 73. Committee member Jamie Bellamy presented the poll’s findings to the board at its Sept. 7 meeting, and suggested that Lindner place be renamed Acorn Way. Mayor Keith Corbett made the motion, and the trustees voted unanimously in favor of the change.
“The way we were able to do it, I think, is what I’m most proud of, because we didn’t end up with divisiveness,” Corbett said. “We ended up really coming together to make a positive change, to say who we are today.”
The board tentatively suggested the month of October for the official unveiling ceremony. “We now have to get in touch with the post office to get all that changed,” Corbett explained. “Hopefully in October, soon, we’ll be able to have an unveiling of a new street sign.”
Corbett and others involved in the process have expressed interest in creating a plaque or exhibit memorializing the efforts of community activists and offering historical context to the decision.
“I did want to have a little plaque, probably in the library, just recognizing the work of the kids and the students who came forward, and your committee, of course, just so people can understand why the name was changed,” Corbett said to Bellamy
At a previous meeting, committee members floated the idea of preserving one of the Lindner Place signs as part of an educational display documenting the renaming effort.
Bellamy thanked the board of behalf of the committee. “Thank you for giving us the platform to do this, and working together,” she said. “The name, I feel, represents the children of all of Malverne and our district.”
Bellamy noted the new name’s connection to Malverne’s motto, “Oaks from Acorns.” “Every single child represents a little acorn that will eventually become an oak,” she said, “and an active, productive member of our community.”