Written by Rich Forestano Friday, 26 November 2010 00:00
If you’re not from Mineola, the surrounding area, or are just a casual passerby on Old Country Road, you’ve probably driven past the stretch of road between the Country Glen Center and Roslyn Road and noticed the little structures that look as if they were plucked from a Little House on the Prairie episode. They’ve given a certain character to the neighborhood for many years, but are now in need of help.
The Village of Mineola is seeking volunteers to renovate the gatehouses located on the north sides of the intersections of Old Country Road and Berkley Road and Weybridge Road. The gatehouses were built along with the homes on those streets to improve the aesthetic look of the neighborhood, but over the years they have worn to the point of needing repairs.
Concern over the deteriorating gatehouses has been brought before the village board at previous meetings, and has been addressed as recently as October. Mayor Jack Martins said that an investigation found the village had no ownership of the gatehouses.
According to village officials, that stretch of Old Country Road and intersections from Geranium Avenue to Wisteria Avenue all had gatehouses because that section of homes built by the same developer. Village officials stated that the approximate age of the gatehouses ranges from 50-70 years old. Currently, there are four gatehouses left standing.
The developer of that area of Mineola, who has not been able to be identified, built homes with slate roofs, timber construction and stone bases, and the company built the gatehouses to reflect the style of the homes built in that area. The developer apparently built the gatehouses as a “gift to the village of Mineola.”
Residents obviously don’t want the gatehouses knocked down and Martins said that he doesn’t want to do the job halfway and only restore them temporarily. After meeting with a carpenter, the village was told the gatehouses are not standard construction.
The gatehouses are “post and beam timber constructions.” This type of carpentry is an old style that requires very heavy timber and slate roofs, which is expensive.
Local residents of that area have attended recent board meetings and stated that the village should fix the gatehouses. The village in fact, does not own the gatehouses since they sit on private property and as a result, the village could not justify using tax dollars to renovate and rebuild the gatehouses.
Furthermore, the gatehouses do sit on parts of property owned by the corner residents of those blocks and parts of the sidewalk. Residents have argued in the past that they never asked for ownership when they bought the home and never knew it was part of their property. The village is legally prohibited from doing work on private property, which the gatehouses sit on.
“It is difficult and rather expensive to rebuild,” the Mayor said at a recent board meeting. “There are some issues since part of the gatehouses are on private property and public property. Whoever put these gatehouses up, put them up as part of that development, but never made clear who was responsible for maintaining the structures.”
However, after a meeting with several of the residents in the area, the village has decided it can make the renovation a community project. The village will secure the materials needed and community members will help renovate the gatehouses.
Martins said that he and the other board members would be among the first volunteers for this project. “We can all swing a hammer,” he said. “For those people who are handy, you are more than welcome.”
According to a village representative, the village has priced out the materials and ordered them. Residents have not reported to the village with a list of volunteers at this time.