| The members of the Citizens for the Protection of Open Space at Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park held a Pep Rally in preparation for their hearing before the Oyster Bay Town Board on Tuesday, Sept. 26. Attorneys John Palmer, Gerry Raymon with Carla Panetta, Charles Doering, Fran Leone, Marie Knight and Judith-Ann Barnett. |
Members of the Citizens for the
Protection of Open Space at Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park held a pep rally in preparation for their hearing before the Oyster Bay Town Board on Tuesday, Sept. 26. There, Oyster Bay Civic Association President Marie Knight announced that the civic association will present their architect's plan for TR Park right after the Open Space group speaks. The meeting will give the Oyster Bay Town Board more suggestions on what can happen in TR Park, since they will have the final say on how the park continues into this century.
Attorneys Gerry Raymon and John Palmer of the Open Space group reported their discussions with the town on the legal aspects of changing the deed to allow a carousel in spite of the fact that it is expressly not allowed.
Mr. Palmer, a trial attorney, said, "It's a serious issue. Gerry and I discussed whether the town can legally do it. The original deed says that the park should be bucolic and pastoral. It includes that there be
no mechanical form of entertainment like a carousel or a 'switchback'."
Another point he wanted to clarify in the deed is the word "modify." Mr. Palmer said, "The Town and the Theodore Roosevelt Association (TRA) can modify the deed but according to Black's Law Dictionary that means you can make a change, not gut - not doing something that is a complete contradiction to the deed." He said the law dictates that they not revoke, gut or violate the deed, but to leave its general purpose intact.
Mr. Palmer added, "If we have to go to court we can say they can modify the deed but not violate and contradict the entire deed. It was created for the benefit of the public - the third party beneficiary - and we can take action for preventing a group from doing it."
Gerry Raymon said he and Mr. Palmer visited the town attorney's office cautioning the board not to make the wrong decision. He said they were not adversarial in their discussion but
wanted to educate the town officials to help them make the right decision. "We firmly believe the deed is quite clear. It is a memorial park to Theodore Roosevelt and has open space and is for quiet recreational use," Mr. Raymon stated. He said there had been a modification to the deed making it for Town of Oyster Bay residents only [they pay the taxes for townwide park maintenance]. The second modification was to allow a ball field to be installed, but not permenantly, and the deed said it was to revert back to the original open space and grasslands. "It is very clear, even with those modifications. There should be no mechanical rides," said Mr. Raymon.
Mr. Palmer added an important aspect of the deed is that it partners the Town of Oyster Bay, the Theodore Roosevelt Association for the "benefit of the public" which he said constitutes a third party to enforce the agreement. The preamble of the deed is that the park is "for the benefit of the public," he
said. "The public is also involved in that they have 'third party rights'."
Another issue needing clarification is that no federal or state money has been used in the park. "Technically the Town of Oyster Bay owns the park," said Mr. Raymon. "We are trying to convince the town they do not have a legal right to change the deed. It is also disenfranchising people from using the picnic area which is used every weekend through October. If we don't succeed we the people have another right - to go to the court."
Mr. Raymon said, "We are all united that the carousel doesn't belong there. We are not against the carousel - I worked in one in Bayville. We must stay focused and not to say what they should have there - that is not our focus."
Marie Knight, Oyster Bay Civic Association president said, "We have our rendering of TR Park and have been talking to town board members. There is no carousel in the plan - it follows the deed and includes
the soccer field."
Mr. Raymon said he wrote to Cathal Nolan, the new executive director of the TRA saying the Open Space group was opposed to the carousel. He said Mr. Nolan wrote back saying the decision rests with the Town of Oyster Bay not the public, and that if the town approves it the TRA will not oppose it.
Ms. Knight said that while the Main Street Association is proposing a carousel to revitalize the town, "We are working on parking enforcement. When that is done the village will be back. The carousel won't do it."
Several members asked what happened to the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park Advisory Committee. Fran Leone said it was formed in April 2003 by a town resolution. People were given 1, 2 and 3 year terms. Therefore everyone's term has now expired, she said.
The original nine people on the
advisory committee include: Dr. John Gable (now deceased); Judge John Galasso; Joe McLaughlin (who resigned and according to Marie Knight gave her his seat); John Walsh (who Mr. Doering and Ms. Knight said he told them he was not interested in being on the committee); Sarah Abruzzi, director of Raynham Hall Museum (who has moved on to be director of the Three Village Historical Society in Setauket); Louise Harrison (who was Friends of the Bay executive director and is now CEO of Conservation & Natural Areas Planning); Abraham Poznanski of Island Properties (who is no longer with the company, and is suing his former partner, Charles Wang); Luz Torres of the Culturo Centro Hispanico and Town Councilman Chris Coschignano.
At the meeting, Judy Barnett mentioned the new grant the town received for the Eastern Waterfront visioning process. The Eastern Waterfront runs from the end of the Western Waterfront to Oyster Bay Cove, from East Main Street and Audrey
Avenue to Firemen's Field and therefore includes Theodore Roosevelt Park.
Fran Leone said she met with Louise Harrison and still has her rendering of the eastern Waterfront. "She went to Main Street when they announced the carousel and told them they can't do anything until a visionary plan is complete. What happens on the Eastern Waterfront has to be compatible. You can't say you are going to drop something here before any type of planning is done. The grant has now come through and includes creating a committee."
Ms. Harrison said she has called the town to see if the TR Park Advisory Committee was meeting again.
She said before she left Friends of the Bay in 2004 she spoke to the MSA about the need for an Eastern Waterfront Study where concerns should be raised on the overall area as to parking, traffic, redevelopment, brownfields, sewage, Commander Oil, and zoning related to noise and residential use - which would be different
from an industrial use of the land.
She said in her opinion any carousel should be viewed as part of an overall plan: "If you put residences down there that is different than if you put industry there." She said the best thing was not to be pro or con on one issue but to look at the bigger picture. "The good news is that the plan has been needed. The committee is being formed. That is the way to look at changes and to get what the community wants. That's the way to do it," she added.
Ms. Harrison said, "Get a vision for the Eastern Waterfront in totality and understand that people are able to think about all the pros and cons and to have a vision. If the focus is on a single issue there are people leading the charge on both sides and there is no cooperation - it is just a contest."
Ms. Harrison said, "Abraham Poznanski [then of Island Properties] was the reason we pushed for the EasternWaterfront plan because they had so much
potential. At the time Abraham Poznanski wanted housing at the waterfront. The Oyster Bay Hamlet Plan was vague on the shoreline area and we thought we needed a special focus on it. I was very pleased to see the town got a grant."
She said deciding on the carousel first is the tail wagging the dog. Ms. Harrison said the Florence Park residents should be represented on the Eastern Waterfront planning committee. She added that FOB has an interest in the planning. They own waterfront property at the end of Harbor Road which someone donated. It is a sliver of beach property which gives them legal standing in any arguments over use.
Ms. Harrison said the people along White's Creek and Renaissance Properties - and all the different interest groups should be involved with planning the future of Oyster Bay. It is the last chance to see what the community wants for the future, she said: "There are so many properties that can go either way and there is tons
of money for redevelopment of brownfields which can bring a great deal of money to the community."
***********************************************************Edward J. Renehan Jr.
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