Oyster Bay Civic Association President Marie Knight handed the gavel to new President William Von Novak as the March 15 meeting opened. He in turn presented the longtime civic leader with a bouquet of red roses. Ms. Knight, now the president emeritus, has been looking for her successor as president of the civic association and called Mr. Von Novak a great person for the job, and a gentleman. His wife, the late Ellen Von Novak, was the OBCA secretary. Mr. Von Novak has retired from his job as assistant superintendent of schools in Bay Shore. His three children attended the Oyster Bay School District. His son went to Chaminade High School after eighth grade. His two daughters graduated from Oyster Bay High School. He is presently chair of the Bay Shore Family Health Center.
The Oyster Bay Civic Association Board members: standing are Joe Mimmo, Vice President Stan Spiegelman, Judy Barnett, George DeMarino and seated are President Emeritus Marie Knight, President William Von Novak and Treasurer Louise Rea.
Mr. Von Novak explained that in Suffolk County they have 12 health centers instead of the one in Nassau County. "They are each affiliated with a private hospital: Bay Shore is affiliated with South Side Hospital. People come and have full medical care and are referred to hospitals for things such as having babies. I've been involved since 1989-90. It's a wonderful group of people," he said.
Mr. Von Novak had arranged for Nassau Comptroller Howard Weitzman to speak about the work he has been doing on the many special districts in Nassau County, but Mr. Weitzman was unable to come to the civic meeting at the last moment. Judy Jacobs, NC Legislature presiding officer, came in his place. (An article on her talk will appear in the March 29 issue of the Oyster Bay Enterprise Pilot.) A longtime civic activist, Ms. Jacobs was very informative. Oyster Bay-East Norwich Board of Education President James Robinson attended and had questions for Ms. Jacobs, as did other members of the community including Town of Oyster Bay Finance Director Robert McEvoy, who shared what the town has been doing in relation to the attention to special districts.
At the well-attended meeting, OBCA Vice President Stan Spiegelman reported on the Interagency Council meeting that is made up of representatives of local non-profit groups that meet monthly to discuss what each is doing. He said that the Oyster Bay Jewish Center is holding a Holocaust Memorial on April 15 and the community is invited to attend. He had fliers saying that Holocaust survivor Annie Bleiberg will be speaking at 7:30 p.m. The event is free and includes a candlelight ceremony featuring descendants of survivors of the Holocaust. Mr. Spiegelman said he has heard stories from his wife's first cousin who is a Holocaust survivor. "It was an amazing experience to hear about," he said.
Mr. Spiegelman added that Doubleday Babcock was scheduled to hold an appraisal day on Sunday, March 18, and was planning its second annual Wellness Walk on April 28. He reported that Oyster Bay High School Superintendent Dr. Phyllis Harrington said residents can sign onto the school's website to receive weekly news reports on the district.
President Bill Von Novak said, "This is a community service organization and we need volunteers for the holiday decorating committee and for secretary. We want to extend the leadership of the group. There is a lot more talent in the group than just those sitting at this table."
He said they are considering splitting the job of secretary into a corresponding secretary and a recording secretary. [Judy Barnett has volunteered to help until others volunteer.] They also want members of the group to chair the committees so that they are not staffed only by the board of directors.
He said membership applications were available and invited people to sign up to join the group. Attendance was high at the meeting. Mr. Von Novak had contacted local nonprofits informing them of the meeting with Mr. Weitzman and there was much interest in attending, he said.
Mr. Von Novak also reported that the holiday committee realized there were some mistakes with the lighting and evergreen roping, and that they were ordering new material and starting their planning earlier. They are looking at supplies for holiday decorations and ways to promote electric service for holiday lighting in the hamlet.
The Oyster Beautification Committee, he said, is a joint effort between the Oyster Bay Civic Association, Main Street and the Oyster Bay Chamber of Commerce. They are planning a spring cleanup in the hamlet and are requesting trash cans from the town as well as added pickup times, especially in the summer. The committee will have an education program using posters made by school students. They are considering an adopt-a-block program. The plans are being solidified and will be announced at the end of April.
Fran Leone reported on what is happening in Theodore Roosevelt Park as chair of the OBCA Committee to Renovate TR Park. She and Charlie Doering served on the civic association's committee to renovate Theodore Roosevelt Park when they first asked the town to restore it to conform to the 1942 deed. [That action brought about the TR Park Advisory Committee - now defunct, and since the deed states "No Carousel" it initiated the opposition to a carousel in the park]. Ms. Leone said the new park manager Ron MacDonald has trimmed, cut down and is replacing trees in the park. He is spending $7,500 on landscaping to revitalize the park. He is putting in a water recirculating system in the memorial fountain. "He is doing a good job enforcing the rules. We [the Citizens to Preserve Open Space at Theodore Roosevelt Park] have petitions with us to try and keep TR Park open, clean and green as a memorial as stated in the 1942 deed," she added.
Ms. Leone told the group that the town's Request for Proposals (RFP) was sent to companies that were mainly groups that operated carousels and were not interested in creating one, and that the only answer they received was from Main Street. She said she tried to get a copy of their RFP answer informally through Parks Commissioner George Baptista, which she was unable to do. She has now submitted a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request for a copy of the RFP, but she said Town Clerk Steve Labriola said she would have to wait two or three weeks for an answer.
Ms. Leone said, if they really want the carousel to be put into TR Park then it should be part of the Eastern Waterfront Advisory Planning Committee. She added, "Should there be an alternate location for it?"
Ms. Knight said the civic association will look into the town's refusal to provide the RFP response.
Ms. Leone, who has been researching TR Park's history, said there are 16 folders in town hall files on the master plan for the park done in the 1970s. "The plans say it is a waterfront park for water-related uses." Marie Knight added that Louise Harrison, one of the grant writers for the grant for the Eastern Waterfront planning, said TR Park was part of the Eastern Waterfront.
Rob Brusca questioned a town resolution about TR Park. At the March 13 town board meeting the board passed resolution 223-2007. It refers to a resolution adopted on March 14, 2006, to put into the budget $50,000 for authorizing Douglas A. Wilke, consulting engineer services, for "On Call Technical Assistance Relative to Architecture; for the Master Plan and Community Coordination for Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park." A call to town hall about the resolution was answered, saying the town is working on a master plan for TR Park but the town spokesperson said it does not include a carousel because the town is aware that there is controversy about whether residents want it or do not want it there.
FYI: Mr. Wilke was the architect for the picnic pavilions and gatehouse at TR Park that was built in the 1980s when Angelo Delligatti was town supervisor.