The Main Street Association did well to bring in professionals for the purpose of community planning. It seems our community is at a critical time in its long and historical existence. Which direction it is going to turn or is currently turning should be of major concern for those of us who live in the village. In jeopardy are our property values as well as our quality of life.
I, for one, am not in favor of the current direction our village is turning. The trends in acquiring variances to build multiple dwellings, to subdivide properties so as to build two houses where one or none previously existed, to buy up houses and convert them to multiple dwellings to maximize the profit of the landlord at the neighborhood's expense are but only a few of my concerns.
Why variances and permits are issued for this purpose when the quality of life in our community is in jeopardy defies logic.
Quality of life issues are all conclusive of those things that, at worst, impact our mental and physical health or, at least, assault our senses in an abrasive and demeaning fashion. Immediate consequences of our development as traffic congestion, air pollution, water pollution, and noise pollution are but a few of the problems. More subtle consequences are those that we find aesthetically degrading. The current Oyster Bay Manor/Harbor House is not aesthetically pleasing, but neither are the numerous unkempt houses, subdivided for rental with the grass uncut, hedges untrimmed and multitude of garbage cans thrown around.
The point is where do we start in this community planning? Where do we start to improve our quality of life? I believe these recommendations should help:
I. Place a moratorium on all subdivisions and tighter control on issuing variances.
II. Rental properties need to be maintained (as many are) as not to devalue the surrounding properties.
III. Get rid of the whistles for fire and ambulance calls. To continue to summon the volunteers by this method is becoming more impractical as the number of calls increases in proportion with the development. (More senior residences will certainly result in even more calls in the near future.) The alarm can and should be used as a back up to the pager system and could be tested once every day to comply with those parameters set by the insurance companies. But six blasts lasting one minute 30 seconds for a fire, and one blast lasting 30 seconds for an ambulance some 70 times a month is not only unnecessary, but degrading to our quality of life.
IV. And let us not forget our individual responsibilities as good citizens. Litter and graffiti need to be picked up and cleaned up immediately. To ignore this problem only encourages more of the same irresponsible behavior. As property owners we should be expected to maintain our property so as not to offend or devalue our neighbors. This respect should be a minimal expectation of your neighbors whether they be private, the town, LIRR or commercial properties.
Only after progress is made in these areas at a total expense of "no dollars" can I begin to get even remotely optimistic about roundabouts, tree plantings in parking lots or redesigned sidewalks. It is not that I discourage this nor discourage any effort toward such an end, but would like to encourage my recommendations as a simple means toward the same end - a better Oyster Bay.
P. S. The burnt out remnants of a Ford Taurus station wagon abandoned (four weeks as of July 17) on South Street in front of the empty store front with the "for rent" sign in the window, serves as an exclamation point to my letter. Perhaps all things being relative this blight has gone unnoticed due to the mess on the next corner (Oyster Bay Manor) or perhaps it exemplifies the real problem, that is, though we expect certain standards of decency from our fellow citizens, we are powerless to coerce them toward such standards.