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Editorial: The Economic Argument For Preservation

Hopefully you will have had some time to read about the Trousdell house and the campaign to preserve it, and the open space around it. Now owned by the North Shore Land Alliance, it is slated for sale and to become a bed & breakfast if possible.

Unfortunately, the hoped-for buyer is not in the market at this time. The NSLA stepped forward to preserve the open space that could have become a subdivision – with the house demolished and several homes built on the 3.5 acres. It is in a great location with views of Oyster Bay Harbor.

The timing is critical, as Lisa Ott said, time is the culprit. We are at a point in the hamlet of Oyster Bay where the combined historic building projects needing restoration: Trousdell’s, Snouder’s, Raynham Hall Museum, the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum and Display Yard, would need about $10 million to make happen. That all comes down to a great need in the community to work together in a project using what was learned in the Octagon Hotel project. In the recent hearing on landmarking the Maine Maid Inn, Oyster Bay Town Commissioner of Planning & Development Frederick Ippolito called the Octagon House a success story.

It involved saving the landmark Octagon Hotel building; which meant jobs for the community on the restoration; the addition of six apartments for residents; and with several retail locations generating economic activity. The most recent addition, Fit Fusion Interactive, had its grand opening on Wednesday, Nov. 16.

Of that needed $10 million it would be in line for preservation grants and tax credits.

There is a need for a formal historic preservation planning process – to identify the historic resources that we have and for those with significance to register them at the local and some cases national level; and finally develop strategies for their ongoing maintenance.

Having a formal preservation planning process in place will dramatically increase the chance of attracting state, federal and private funds for the needed work. That is a win-win situation rather than relying on one source for help.

We also need to get the Landmarks Preservation Commission up and running again and maybe with a new focus on how to work more effectively. There are about 100 buildings in the town that are up for landmark designation. Their average overtime is about one site per year.

The town does have to be commended for the efforts they are making but they have to step up to a new level of propductivity.

And while we are thinking of how to solve these problems, the Town of Oyster Bay might consider hiring an expert in historic preservation to take on these responsibilities. Oyster Bay is unique and we know the town board is willing and interested in preserving it. It sounds like we just need some expert on staff who will be there for preserving our historic past into the future.                        

- DFK