There will be a joint meeting of the Oyster Bay and East Norwich Civic Associations on Thursday, Nov. 15 at the Italian-American Club on Summit Street starting at 7:30 p.m. The meeting is to discuss the full issue, both the pros and cons of the proposed Theodore Roosevelt Museum. "We're talking about discussing all the pros and cons of the proposed museum," said OBCA President Bill Von Novak.
He said, "We had Jim Bruns come and talk about the museum. Now we will look at all aspects of the museum and after that we will invite him to hear the results. There is no December meeting of the Oyster Bay Civic Association so that meeting should be in January."
He said people are getting on board in favor of the museum without knowing about the issues. "We will raise all the issues that affect the community. The bottom line is - will the TR Museum, if built, affect the quality of life in the town. We'll lay it all out," he said.
Mr. Von Novak said, "A growing number of people believe that the Theodore Roosevelt Association and Mr. Bruns don't understand what Oyster Bay is all about. You have to know the character of the people who live here. And we are going to have to deal with the problems.
"We need a full discussion of the issues before the civics can make a stand about the proposed museum. The meeting is to educate the citizens. People jump on the bandwagon before they know where it is going," he said.
Mr. Von Novak said he asked Mr. Bruns if he had considered another site other than Firemen's Field but Mr. Bruns said no. "He told me that 'Firemen's Field is a first-class site for a first-class museum for a first-class president', he said. "I've had 20 people tell me the Hallock site was appropriate but Mr. Bruns said it was not a first-class site."
Mr. Von Novak said Mr. Bruns needed to understand a community like Oyster Bay where people are willing to put $100,000 into their houses to restore them. "Look at the article about the recent preservation awards given to residents of Florence Park [in the Oct. 18 issue of the Enterprise Pilot]," he said.
Mr. Von Novak, who lives in the Florence Park area, said he looks at the houses: the Meyer's house, the Curran's, the O'Rourke's and the Murray's houses. "These people go way back in time. That's why people want to live here. There is a great sense of continuity and history here. This is a very good community. It is flexible, open and they'll do the best things. They don't want something rammed down their throats.
"The first people heard about the proposed museum was with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding. It should have been discussed first before they made the decision. That's all we want. If people want it, those who don't will swallow hard. If people don't want it, then the developers and the politicians have to listen," he said.