Islip Town Board: Do the right thing
The fate of Idle Hour, the former estate of William K. Vanderbilt in Oakdale, has remained uncertain ever since Dowling College, which had occupied that site since 1948, closed last year. That’s why the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities chose to place it on its 2017 list of Endangered Historic Places. All along though, the town has had a tool to provide a level of protection to prevent those structures from demolition: Planned Landmark Preservation Overlay District (PLP). But for whatever reason, they chose not to use it. The town really needs to use it now before the new owner takes possession of that property within the coming weeks.
A committee of experts on architecture, history and preservation identified Idle Hour as a historic site that should be saved. However, making SPLIA’s list does not guarantee protection. Only the town can make that happen by requiring the new owners to maintain the historic structures while allowing the property to be developed around them. It’s been done successfully before. PLPs have saved the Arnold Estate in West Islip, Sagtikos Manor in West Bay Shore and even the Artist’s Colony in Oakdale that had also been a part of Vanderbilt’s Idle Hour compound. So, why hasn’t the board done the same for this property?
The members of the Oakdale Historical Society have taken the lead on trying to get the town to declare Idle Hour a PLP. They garnered support from numerous Islip Town residents through petitions, letters and even speaking up at town board meetings. The board didn’t budge. Instead, they advised this group that they’d prefer to deal with the new owners and together make a decision on using that designation. What? That would be too late. No owner would be agreeable to putting restrictions on their property. That’s why it needs to happen now.
The time for discussing this issue has run out. Islip Town Board members, who were elected to do what is best for the town, have to understand that includes protecting its history. It was the reason the PLP was developed in the first place. And the residents of the town have made it clear that they want Idle Hour saved. Now it’s time for the board to answer their pleas, and at the next board meeting, do the right thing by making Idle Hour a PLP!
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