A picture of the entire park showing where Mr. Baldino proposed to enhance the jetty to make a concert area and the fountain area with radiating brick walks as well as the entrance and flagpole areas forming a line of sight through the park to the water.
Marie Knight, president of the Oyster Bay Civic Association (OBCA) introduced architect Louis Baldino to the Oyster Bay Town Board at their Sept. 26 hearing. Mr. Baldino presented his plan, funded by the OBCA to renovate Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park - without a carousel. His plan maintains the original entrance to the park.
Mr. Baldino explained that his plan for the park maintains the original east and west and north and south axis created by the landscape architect who designed the park. He would maintain the entrance to the park that crosses over the train tracks by the Oyster Bay Rail Road Museum. That line of sight from the entrance to the flagpole, divides the park into two areas, the east and west. On the west side he is proposing lengthening the large jetty to create a concert pavilion. It would consist of a fabric roof enclosure supported by four decorative concrete columns. [Morgan Park in Glen Cove has used a similar idea to create a stage without walls for concerts.] It will bring people to town on summer evenings, he said.
On the west side he is also proposing a non-regulation size soccer field between the parking lot and the softball field. Presently, the west side is for physical activity and contains the tennis courts and the softball field.
On the east side of the park there is a great lawn. He said, "I grew up in this park and town and that area is never filled with people." He said the original plan was to create a peaceful serene area. He plans to enhance that use by creating a fountain in the center with four brick radiating walkways that create four intimate park-like settings as opposed to one - which he said, will be better used by guests of the park.
On the promenade he plans to improve the seating and create a semi-circular area with a herringbone pattern area in which people can sit and look at the water.
He plans to improve the flagpole area by making a two-tiered circular brick landscaped island with a concrete base for the flagpole with a new base that matches the one at the Oyster Bay Post Office.
The most important feature of the park, he said is the north/south line of site that starts at the entrance. There he proposes to remove the rock currently in place and put a statue there of Theodore Roosevelt maintaining that line of site to the flag and on to the water.
Architect Baldino said the addition of the carousel along with their proposed modified entrance is not only a visual detriment but clearly contradictory to the planning of the park. He sees the carousel not as a legal issue but a design and aesthetic error.
Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto said that carousel or not, there were still components of Mr. Baldino's plan that he found interesting. He asked if Mr. Baldino would meet with the park people and work on some of them. Mr. Baldino said, "I will."
Mr. Baldino said as an architect he tries to manipulate a space to create something peaceful and nice. He said, "Whoever planned this park, separating east and west did it right and I think a carousel would be a detriment to that."
There was applause.
The meeting began as Marie Knight, OBCA president said the civic association was opposed to the carousel proposed by the Main Street Association. She said, "This is their last hurrah."
She read a letter from Barbara Kraft Comstock, whose mother was the first curator of Sagamore Hill and who was the Theodore Roosevelt Association vice president and secretary and was in charge of commissioning of the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier. Ms. Comstock is strongly opposed to the carousel in TR Park, which she said in the letter, was to be a dignified place of rest and recreation.
Ms. Knight said the MSA proposal includes opening up the park to the general public - which she is against. She said some time ago the town modified the deed saying that TR Park is for township residents. Town taxes and town bonds and the recent SEA Fund bond pay for the renovation and restoration of all of the town's parks. Ms. Knight added that there is misinformation that federal funds were used for the park - they were not.
Town Supervisor John Venditto said the town board will focus on the carousel proposal with the same vigor that they pursued for the Underhill property, and other environmentally sensitive projects involving open space in the town. "Based upon our track record no one is going to pull the wool over our eyes. We have a divided community - 50/50 for and against the carousel," he said.
Ms. Knight said she didn't know why he wouldn't do the same to preserve the open space in TR Park as he did in other instances. She said, "Why not keep the park the way it is supposed to be - why change it."
Ms. Knight introduced Dave Morrison, former LIRR Oyster Bay branch manager said he used the Oyster Bay station house as his satellite office. "Whenever people came to visit, employees or outside contractors I took them outside and showed them this beautiful site: the waters of Oyster Bay, and to see the green TR Park that is tranquil and serene. My opinion is that the park should remain forevermore the way it is," he said.
He said he grew up in Yonkers from where he could look west and see the Hudson River and The Palisades - that was because the Rockefeller family purchased all the land north of the George Washington Bridge. He said in the entire length of the Palisades there is only one structure, a radio tower, the first FM station put there by its inventor Edwin Howard Armstrong. Mr. Morrison said, "The Palisades look the same as when Henry Hudson, and Robert Fulton sailed up the Hudson River and will look the same thanks to the Rockefeller family who purchased all that land north of the George Washington Bridge and donated it to the State of New York and the State of New Jersey and created the Palisades Interstate Parkway. I'd like to apply the same analogy to TR Park in Oyster Bay. Let's keep the same beautiful scene - that green view now and forevermore."
That was when Louis Baldino presented his master plan for TR Park to the town board members and the assembled residents.