Written by Rich Forestano Thursday, 12 June 2014 00:00
The Village of Mineola has asked Winthrop University Hospital to hire an outside firm to conduct a roof engineering report of the Station Plaza Diner before going forward with plans to revamp the “Welcome to Mineola” sign atop the building, according to village officials.
Winthrop expressed interest in the sign last September. According to hospital reps, Winthrop plans to have a new sign installed within the next four to six weeks.
Mayor Scott Strauss indicated a the village is taking a “wait and see” approach when it comes to renovation of the sign. He said Winthrop may not need to submit its plans for the village zoning board of appeals, depending on what the building department finds.
“I don’t know exactly what [Winthrop’s] plans are,” said Strauss, who revealed he and the Village Board saw a rendering of the new sign a few months ago. “Is the four- to six-week time accurate? It could be, but nothing is going to happen until we see the engineering report.”
Because it adorns a ‘gateway to Mineola,’ Strauss said, the sign “has to fit within the village’s character.”
“[The rendering] looked appropriate,” he said. “I appreciated that Winthrop reached out to the board to work on getting that sign updated. The sign that’s up there now is a mess. If we can get it replaced with something that’s tasteful, I’m on board.”
Mineola Building Department officials said discussions picked up over the last few weeks concerning electrical work and structural fabrication.
Winthrop recently sent Deer Park-based Double R Contracting to survey the roof, where they realigned power lines to handle a new, working display, according to building department documents.
“I have asked that the hospital hire an independent engineer to do an analysis of the existing framework that’s up there,” Village Building Superintendent Dan Whalen said. “Also, to do a structural analysis of the skeletal system of the sign. It’s fine if [Winthrop] wants to do this, but if the building department is going to issue the permit, we need a full report by a professional engineer.”
The current sign was damaged during Hurricane Sandy and the “Mineola” portion of the display is gone.
Winthrop is still in talks with diner owner Nick Liakonis to rent the roof. He submitted lease parameters to the hospital last December and would not disclose the details.
“I prepared a lease and said ‘this is what I’m looking for,’” Liakonis said. “It’s out of my hands now.”
Hospital officials revealed the sign is currently being fabricated and they may host a ceremonial lighting when it's built. Winthrop reps stressed the new sign would have the same “intimate” feel of the current one, but with one or two differences.
“It’s going to be in blue; that’s the biggest difference,” said Winthrop Public Affairs VP Ed Keating. “It’s going to replicate the sign that was previously there as much as possible, except it will say Winthrop University Hospital, have Welcome to Mineola along with a clock and American Flag.”
The location of the sign offers good exposure for the hospital if Winthrop secures the roof for rent and renovation. Winthrop is still building its new $80-million, 95,000-square-foot diabetes research facility directly north of the sign, at the corner of Mineola Boulevard and Second Street.
“It’s going to be the same font, the same lettering...what we wanted to do is preserve some of the historical quality of the original sign,” Keating stated. “We thought people would appreciate that.”
The sign was initially built in 1940 by the Going Sign Company, which was located at Station Plaza North, until the company relocated to Plainview in 1974.