The poster sent out by email by the TRA.
The Town of Oyster Bay information office got a lot of calls last week from people concerned that there was going to be a big rally at the Tuesday, Jan. 20 Town Hall meeting in support of the proposed land lease between the Theodore Roosevelt Association and the Town of Oyster Bay to create the proposed Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Museum - with no previous notice to the public at large.
The town's reaction was that "The TRA jumped the gun on that issue." Marta Kane, a town spokesperson said. "The supervisor would not allow a meeting to go unannounced on the issue, but would ensure that all those interested would have ample notification time." The TRA was unavailable for comment.
Ms. Kane added, "The town never announced that a town resolution regarding the lease agreement pertaining to the museum was in place. That is not to say there have not been meetings toward that but it is premature to announce that something is happening. It's always been the supervisor's intention to announce a meeting for when it comes up. It's premature. We didn't intend to put it on the agenda for Tuesday, Jan. 20."
But it appears the TRA thought it was in the works when they gave out posters at the Oyster Bay Public Library saying that "TR Needs You."
The TRA had sent out emails to its supporters saying:
"[The Theodore Roosevelt] Association Needs Your Help!
"Please attend the Town Board meeting on January 20th (Inauguration Day) at 7 p.m.
"We have received notification that the TRA lease agreement for the TR Museum site is on the agenda for the Town Board Meeting on January 20th, at Town Hall, 54 Audrey Avenue, at 7 p.m. This agenda item is listed as including "public discussion," which means it is vital that we have as many supporters at that meeting as is possible.
"With only one week to make this happen, I am relying on you and all our network of friends to organize. Please forward this message to your circle of friends and associates.
"You are invited to a "pre-meeting" rally at our TRA office at 20 Audrey Ave. on Jan. 20th for TR pins, support signs, and refreshments.
"Please reply to this message if I can count on your attendance.
"In advance, I thank you for your help!"
A poster included in the email showed TR reaching out his hand from a bandstand asking people to come to the meeting saying, "This is the time to show your support to the town board."
Later in the week emails went out saying: "The Town of Oyster Bay has postponed the public hearing so that the revised agreement can be duly vetted by the Town Council and reviewed by the public."
It is important to mention that before the lease can be signed, the town must find a new location for the firemen's training track. The TRA wants the entire 3.5 acres of War Memorial Field, currently known as Firemen's Field, for the 70,000 sq. ft. museum and parking lot. Not moving the firemen's training track was called "a deal breaker," by TRA President Jim Bruns.
Ms. Kane said, "The town has hired an architect to review all the things that would have to be met in order for this agreement - the land lease agreement - to go forward and a prime component of that is the relocation of the firemen's training facility.
"So everything is being studied including the best location for the firemen's training facility. Everything is being studied to make the most balanced proposal that will satisfy the greatest number of people. That includes the [Atlantic Steamer Fire Department water rescue] boat house, the playing fields, parking," she said.
That includes closing out a contract listed on the Jan. 20 town meeting calendar for payment to an on-call consultant service for technical assistance relative to site development at Roosevelt Park in relation to a synthetic turf athletic field and parking. "When we first were going to create a new field, LiRo started working on it, but now that work is put on hold to concentrate on the bigger picture. We have to pay for what they have already done. Now all we will do at the Roosevelt ball field is to fix the lights," she said. [After one of the poles holding spotlights fell down the others were taken down for safety's sake.]
Ms. Kane said, "This is a big picture scenario. We are moving forward and it will probably take months. When we have that land lease agreement on the calendar it is an agreement to agree to do something providing the public agrees to do it. The work will include environmental studies, zoning studies: the process probably goes on for a couple of years. We are agreeing that we will ultimately agree on it if the community wants to see it there. The process includes having drawings of the site and the scoping session. This isn't a done deal even after we pass the resolution for the agreement/lease."
The town has shown its commitment to the project in that while former commissioner of Planning and Development Jack Liebert has been moved to a new position at their Miller Place office with Fred Ippolito as the new P & D commissioner, the supervisor has said Mr. Liebert will remain the point person on the museum.
Mr. Liebert has been attending meetings concerning the museum and has been very informative in discussing the issues at Oyster Bay Civic Association meetings.
FYI: the public will not vote on the lease proposal or the further museum proposals. The town's position is that the land is currently under the jurisdiction of the Parks Department and the town has the right to decide on what happens in that area. The town board will make the decisions - but it will listen to the public's voice on the issues.