At its most recent meeting, the Town of North Hempstead council held a public meeting to consider making the Roslyn Country Club an historic landmark. Although both sides were heard, the council made no decision on the matter, which will be taken up again at the town's Feb. 17 public meeting.
Speaking in favor of historic designation at the Jan. 27 meeting were members of the Civic Association of the Roslyn Country Club who argued that landmark status is necessary for the country club building, plus the 11 acres of land and the Club Drive neighborhood, both of which surround the two-story structure.
However, an opponent of landmark status is the operator of the country club itself. Manny Malekav supervises the day-to-day activities of the country club for the Malachit Group of Mineola, which now operates the facility.
Malekav told The Roslyn News that conferring landmark status on the country club would hamper renovations, increase costs, and make the process of running the club on an everyday basis more difficult and time consuming.
"The landmark [status] limits your actions, it delays everything," Malekav said. Running a country club, he added, involves a great deal of "everyday pressure." If the club were a landmark, then it would stop the Malachit people from making "immediate decisions," Malekav said.
For instance, if the Malachit people feel they need to make a walkway safer for its members or if they have to repair a fence, then such usually simple actions would take a great deal of time and money. "I would have to hire an architect, a lawyer, plus I would need approval [from the town board]," Malekav said. "By then, the season would be over."
Malekav added that the same procedures would be needed to do interior renovations.
In addition, Malekav said landmark status would add $25,000 to $50,000 to the country club's yearly budget operations. If that were to happen, he would have no choice but to raise membership fees.
Supporters of landmark status for the building feel that such designation would maintain the vitality of the neighborhood.
Burt Roslyn, a member of the Civic Association of the Roslyn Country Club, is in favor of historic designation. He said that such a measure would preserve "one of the few surviving North Shore mansions."
He also said the building was a "significant example of Bill Levitt's work," referring to the builder who, back in the late 1940s, constructed many of the homes in the Club Drive area, before starting a more ambitious and more famous development in Levittown, the village that bears his name.
Roslyn added that the country club building is "integral to the fabric" of the local community. He also disputed the claims made by the club's current operator that historic designation would hamper even minor renovation jobs.
"There is nothing in the landmark status that prevents restoration, alterations, or repairs to such a building," Roslyn said. "The building code of the Town of North Hempstead would require approval [for renovation work] regardless of historic designation."
Roslyn said that as a practicing architect, he has experience with renovation projects on various historic landmarks throughout Long Island. Renovation work on historic structures is possible as long as such work is consistent with the existing contours of the building in question.
Historic Landmark designation, if approved, would include the building itself, which was constructed in 1922, plus the 11-acre site around it. Such a designation would prevent any future development that might tear down the structure and as a result, radically alter the acreage surrounding the club.
The Malachit Group operates the establishment under its official name, The Roslyn Country Club and Recreation LLC. The club remains under the ownership of the Cronin Group. The club opened under new management on May 24, 2003, after being closed down during the previous winter.
Under the Malachit Group, the country club contains the same amenities as the old one. It offers members a swimming pool, a children's pool, year-round tennis courts, a playground, handball courts, gardens, and snack bar.
In the past, Malekav has said that the Malachit Group has no plans for making major alterations to the building or for demolishing it. He said that the group only planned to do painting and roofing work to the existing building.