Written by D.F. Karppi Friday, 19 August 2011 00:00
The East Norwich Civic Association has withdrawn their application for landmark status for the Community Methodist Church. In an Aug. 10 letter to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, Matthew T. Meng, president of the ENCA said, “Having met with the East Norwich Civic Association officers and directors and consulted with many members of the community, and having the entire ENCA board approval, we respectfully requested that the landmark status application we submitted be withdrawn.” He said the reason was because, “The Community United Methodist Church of East Norwich does not want to pursue the landmark status at this time.”
Mr. Meng said he was aware that the town would not give landmark status to a site if the owners were not in agreement. The civic association has been in discussion on the landmarking that was originally thought of by opponents to the cell antenna installation in the steeple of the church to be a help in preventing the project. Mr. Meng felt while that was worth trying – that the church truly deserved landmarking.
Kathy Nastri, CUMC board president said on Aug. 18, that they have been in discussion with the ENCA. She said, “There is real positive work the church and civic association are doing now and in the community. Matt Meng and the ENCA are talking about putting the landmark application on hold at the present time, and even about withdrawing it.” Members of the church saw no benefit to landmark the church since they are already committed to caring for the historic building.
Verizon is, however, pursuing the cell antenna application. A town spokesperson said that Verizon is suing the town. The spokesperson said, “The Town of Oyster Bay and the Town of Oyster Bay Zoning Board of Appeals were served with an Article 78 on June 27, 2011.”
Last week the Town of Oyster Bay Landmarks Preservation Commission announced it had scheduled a special meeting for Wednesday, Aug. 24, to hold additional hearings on the requests to landmark the former Maine Main Inn in Jericho, and the Community United Methodist Church in East Norwich.
The meeting will still be held for the Maine Maid Inn, in the town board hearing room, Town Hall East, 54 Audrey Avenue, Oyster Bay, beginning at 7 p.m. For further information, contact the Department of Planning and Development at 624-6200.
Kurt Velsor, president of the CUMC Council attended the July 28, ENCA meeting and heard the objections to the Verizon proposal to put six antennas into the church steeple from parents whose children attend the Wesley Nursery School. Laura McCue-Haigh said four generations of her family have lived in East Norwich. “I love the town [hamlet]. My children will grow up here. I live on my family farm and we still grow string beans there. I’m trying to bring people here, to make it a community. Antennas in the church steeple are not what East Norwich is about,” she said.
Ms. McCue and another parent gave their view that should the antennas be put in, they will take their children out of the school. Ms. McCue said if money was the issue, the parents would help raise funds for the church.
Mr. Velsor, said at that time that the board would have to agree to continue to work with Verizon for them to fight the ZBA decision.
At the ENCA meeting the church members said the funding they were looking forward to from the Verizon antennas was to be used for outreach purposes. The new pastor is very energetic and is starting a youth group, said Mr. Velsor.
Mr. Velsor said during discussions on the ZBA decision, that if the “black box on the roof” was a problem for the ZBA, that it could be relocated elsewhere.
Jennifer Sappell, Long Island North Shore Heritage Area attended the meeting and added comments on landmarking. She arranged the meeting between the CUMC that Kathy Nastri felt so positive about – and which resulted in the ENCA board meeting to vote on canceling the landmark application for the church.
The East Norwich Civic Association board had been considering raising the amount of money they donate for the use of the Fellowship Hall of the Community United Methodist Church in East Norwich. The church itself has not been charging the civic group a fee, but the ENCA has made a yearly donation of $200 in thanks for being able to meet there.
At the Thursday, July 28 meeting their new pastor, the Rev. Nelson Kalombo Ngoy listened as the civic group voted to increase their rent to $500 for the 10 times a year they meet at the church. Since the group meets the fourth Thursday of the month, it impacts both Thanksgiving and Christmas and therefore there are no meetings in those months.
Board member Rosemarie Colvin said it was a good number to pick, at $50 a meeting, since the OBEN school district charges $75.
That evening the board voted to accept the nominations for office and the secretary cast one vote since there were no new nominations. The 2011-2012 officers are: Matthew Meng, president; Sean Rainey, 1st vice president; Joe Boorstein, 2nd vice president; Liane Guenther, treasurer; Rosemarie Colvin, recording secretary; Mel Warren, corresponding secretary. The board of directors are: Dr. Scott Cavagnuolo, Gil Columbo, Linda Stephanopaulos, Bob King, Rob Brusca, Eileen Aliani, Laura McCue-Haigh, and Ann Berch.
The ENCA has been following the condition of Woodstock Landscaping on Route 106, opposite Christina’s Epicure. Town Commissioner Fred Ippolito had told them he was going to send a notice to owner of the East Norwich Inn, Terrance Force, saying the site should be cleaned up. Members noted that the site was being tidied up, someone was “wacking the weeds” and it was being kept better.
The week of Aug. 15, the site appeared to be transformed. There were flowering bushes planted in front of the white split rail fence and the ground appeared to be swept clean of debris. There was an attractive gate installed in the fence. It now looks closer to being a landscape business.
Mr. Meng reported that he had asked Patio.com and TD Bank to clean up the site on Route 25A. “The grass is a foot and a half high,” he said. TD Bank said they would take care of it. Mr. Meng said the plans for the site are being held up by the DOT. “The DOT is doing an engineering review of both the exits, on Route 25A and Route 106. They believe they are too close to the intersection,” he said. “It is a hazard,” he commented. TD Bank has leased the property from Patio.com. Mr. Meng said, “The plans for the bank have been softened to reflect the community’s request.”
The group also discussed the Messina Market and the Red Tomato application which have been approved by the ZBA. There is a concern that cars exiting the site can’t see because cars are parking all along Route 106. Rob Brusca has been in touch with the DOT to see if they agree that there is need of reducing some of the parking along Route 25A to allow for better sight lines when exiting onto the highway where the traffic moves at 55 mph.
The ENCA voted to donate $200 to the Oyster Bay Community Band in that it meets the group’s guidelines of being an organization that benefits the community and has members, both adults and students, from the Oyster Bay-East Norwich area. The band performs free on the lawn of Oyster Bay High School and needs to pay the custodians for setting up the music stands and chairs, providing lighting for the stands and putting the equipment away. In better financial times, the OB-EN School District has paid for those extras.