Written by D.F. Karppi Friday, 17 July 2009 00:00
Now is the time for good men to come to the aid of their party; now is the time for good men to come to the aid of their party; now is the time for good men to come to the aid of their party!
That about says it. Say it three times and it is true!
This is crunch time. The Octagon Hotel truly needs your help for its proper restoration. This piece of Oyster Bay history deserves your concern and attention.
In the newsletter of the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities, Preservation Notes, there was an article in the Spring 2009 issue on the Octagon Hotel. It adds to the story.
It states: “When Bevola Realty Corporation bought the property in 2007, little thought was given to the legacy of this building. The developer’s original plan called for the Octagon’s demolition to make way for a new mixed-use residential and commercial structure, but the town’s parking regulations steered Bevola toward another alternative. [There was not enough parking for the proposed uses of the site.] Realizing that the property was too small to provide sufficient off-street parking and that exceptions were sometimes made for older buildings, the developers advanced plans to retain the form of the existing structure in order to gain a variance for parking. Bevola then turned to the hamlet’s preservation community for support.”
The developers approached the Oyster Bay Main Street Association for help. “They convened a meeting of local preservation groups and SPLIA to hear Bevola’s proposal. While all approved of the developer’s mixed use concept, there was a concern over plans to replicate rather than restore the original structure. Realizing that preservation was unfamiliar territory for the developers, the Main Street Association proposed an alternative strategy. With a grant from the Gerry Charitable Trust, the association hired a preservation architect to produce a feasibility study that identified the historic significance of the Octagon, an approach to restoration, and identified potential funding incentives,” Preservation Notes states.
Funding incentives is the key word here – there are funds available for historic restoration – but there are some guidelines that have to be met for the money. The federal government is in favor of preserving our architectural heritage, and backs it up with grants.
The newsletter continued, “In response, the developer agreed to consider retaining original fabric in the rehabilitation of the Octagon. While a firm plan is yet to be established, the OBMSA demonstrated how a cooperative spirit and strategic action can initiate the potential for new thinking and positive change.”
We add to that our thanks to Kathy Prinz and the Save the Jewel By the Bay for their great work, as well as Tom Kuehhas of the Oyster Bay Historical Society for his groundwork in the cause of preservation.
We hail the Oyster Bay Preservation Roundtable and hope you will, too: with checks as well as words.
For many years we have been writing about the architectural history of the hamlet and how we are losing the battle. This battle has the look of one that can be won – with your crucial help. Please consider helping this worthwhile cause.