Written by D.F. Karppi Friday, 11 March 2011 00:00
In recognition of his service to the Oyster Bay-East Norwich community, the East Norwich Civic Association plans to present a plaque to Jack Libert, Esq., formerly the Town of Oyster Bay Commissioner of Public Works, as well as Commissioner of Planning and Development. Mr. Libert, an Oyster Bay resident, recently retired from the Town and has returned to practice law with the Mineola law firm at which he was previously a founding partner, Forchelli, Curto, Deegan, Schwartz, Mineo, Cohn & Terrana. He is now Counsel in the Firm’s Real Estate department. His area of concentration is co-op and condominium offerings, finance, administrative law, zoning law, land use planning and related litigation.
ENCA President Matt Meng said Mr. Libert deserved recognition for his many years and roles with the Town. “He’s always been very receptive and sensitive to this community,” said Mr. Meng.
After Mr. Libert’s retirement, Mr. Meng saw an article in the L.I. Business News, triggering the idea to honor Mr. Libert. Rob Brusca said, “Jack has been very generous from the first time several of us met with him and others at the Town regarding the AvalonBay proposal. Whatever the subject- Avalon, the TR Museum, the proposed Sbarro development in East Norwich, Marino Field, or the improvements to TR Park, he was the point person and remained open and willing to listen. Jack was a great guy to work with- personally and professionally. He has had a tremendously positive impact on the Oyster Bay-East Norwich community.” Added Matt Meng, “We just think this is something nice to do for someone who deserves it.” Mr. Meng said he called Mr. Libert, invited him to attend the group’s March 24 meeting, and he accepted.
Although the ENCA has sought to open a dialogue with the Community United Methodist Church board regarding the six cell antennas proposed for the church’s steeple, to date the church has been unwilling to meet with representatives of the Civic Association or the residents in the immediate vicinity of the church. After a hearing of mid-December, the application submitted by the church and Verizon remains under consideration by the Town’s Zoning Board of Appeals. Although unwilling to meet with Civic or neighborhood representatives, on Feb. 1 the church hosted a meeting for church members, the parents of the pre-school children who attend the Wesley Nursery School (which operates out of the church’s education building), and school staff. According to Dr. Scott Cavagnuolo, whose children attend the school and who was present at the meeting, very few parents and staff were present, at which a Verizon expert sought to downplay any concerns about the presence of the six antennas and criticized any negative comments attributed to such concerns.
In substance, Dr. Scott said the Verizon speaker told the audience, “We’re the experts; and all objections are quackery. The antennas are perfectly safe.” Dr. Scott asked the church board if they would object to hiring an independent expert, the expense for whom would be shared between the church and the parents. “There was no response,” he said. “No one from the church offered a response of any sort,” added Mr. Meng. He added that at the meeting with Verizon the parents were more upset with the church not telling them about the project, than they were with Verizon.
Concerns have been raised that inadequate notice was provided to all required neighbors, with some indicating that they never received the required mailing from the applicant. Consideration has also been given to the potential that the church building itself is historically significant, potentially limiting the type of installations that can be added to it. According to the town’s Landmark Preservation Law, anyone can ask for a building to be landmarked. The request is presented to the town’s Landmarks Preservation Committee. If they agree the request has merit, they recommend the landmarking to the town board, which then holds a public hearing on the request.
Mr. Meng said Theodore Roosevelt laid the cornerstone of the church in 1901. Oyster Bay Town Historian John Hammond has written about the church in his book on East Norwich, entitled Crossroads, which devotes an entire chapter to the church’s establishment, construction, and significance over time. At the 100th anniversary celebration, at which the church’s time capsule was opened, the church presented Sagamore Hill Curator Amy Verone with the silver trowel used by TR (it had been kept in a vault for safekeeping). As for the church’s and Verizon’s position of the need for additional service, Rosemary Colvin said, “We don’t need it. The only village that needs it has been fighting it (in reference to the Village of Muttontown, which has repeatedly denied attempts by Verizon to add cell antennas or similar at the Village’s buildings and/or property along Rte. 106).” She said, “We have enough service. This is just a reduction of property values.”
Mr. Meng said he mailed a letter to Saratoga Associates listing several suggestions for the proposed Muttontown Preserve Master Plan. There was a short discussion on the preserve and how wonderful it was about 30 years ago when it was well maintained. After several prior public meetings, it is not known if any additional public meetings on the Master Plan are scheduled.
Dr. Scott said that the 2nd Precinct remains sensitive to the traffic safety problems on the Route 106 corridor and has been instrumental in stepping up enforcement on that roadway. Representatives of the Town, County, and State continue to work with the school district in an effort to have flashing school zone beacons added to Rte.106 in the vicinity of the Vernon School, as well as in potentially adding speed indicator devices on that roadway. If approved, the school zone beacons would be secured and installed by the State Dept. of Transportation, with the School District liable for an annual maintenance fee of what is believed to be $1,250/beacon. Additional funding, from other State resources and/or from the County and Town would be required in order to secure and install the speed indicator devices.
Similar school zone beacons and speed indicator devices are also being pursued for West Main Street (in front of Roosevelt School) and East Main Street (in front of the Oyster Bay High School), but those roadways are under the jurisdiction of the County (West Main) and the Town (East Main), thus adding some complication to the outreach. In addition, due to the very close proximity of the sidewalk on the west side of Rte. 106 from approximately the Radcliff neighborhood to Hawthorne Road (next to the EN Deli), suggestion has been made to add a guardrail or something similar, to improve pedestrian safety, which determination is pending with the Dept. of Transportation. The Dept. of Transportation has advised that a new traffic light will be installed on Rte. 106 in front of the Norwich Gate apartments some time in the near future, after a request for the light on the part of Norwich Gate (the expense of which will be absorbed by that property owner).
With Spring approaching, it is hoped that the intended improvements to this site (leased from the owner of the EN Inn) will be forthcoming, as had been discussed between representatives of the Civic Assoc. and the tenant back in the Fall.