2016-05-26 / Columnists

Babylon News & Muse

by Mary Gallagher

•In the past few columns, I’ve written about the historical David Smith House on the southeast corner of Ketewamoke and Deer Park avenues. The attorney for Indian Crossings announced on April 12 that an application to destroy the house and replace it with a “replica” would be filed as soon as possible. This application will be presented to the Village Zoning Board of Appeals for their consideration.

I wonder why the developers would bother to do this. The ZBA’s last ruling for an extension required that the owners move and maintain the historical house on one of the three lots included in the development.

If you have driven past the Smith House, I’m sure you will have seen that the old house is still sitting in the same place it was at the time the variance was granted.

A new home built on the site was finished nearly a year ago and sold. A Certificate of Occupancy was issued by the Village and then amended to indicate that the owners had to comply with a zoning board decision granting the extension in 2013.

As far as I am aware, not once has Indian Crossings officially contested the restriction on the variance. There’s been talk, of course, but no legal move or even a letter contesting the ruling since December 2012.

Many have asked, “Why does this matter?” The lengthy mess on the entire site has been distressing for neighbors and people who want Babylon to be seen at its best. That includes the membership of the Babylon Village Heritage Conservancy, which organized to try to stop the wanton destruction of homes and areas that are a part of Babylon’s heritage. More than 700 people opposed the move to destroy David Smith’s home.

At this point, if you have read anything on this subject, you will know that David Smith fought with Washington to establish this country. He returned to Babylon and built this home in 1790. It is part of Babylon’s heritage, part of this country’s heritage.

Beyond the fact that there are few homes of this age left in Babylon, can anyone really defend a company that asks for special exceptions to the law and then refuses to live up to its part in the contract? Should the ZBA really grant Indian Crossings the right to ignore the Board’s prior ruling? Why would any other builder or business pay heed to such rulings if the application to destroy the historical building and replace it with a Barbie-version were allowed?

Please keep your eye on the site of the Smith House and when a hearing on the matter is posted, come to let your voice be heard. Help keep our heritage intact! Contact the Babylon Village Heritage Conservancy (587-0335) if you want to help.

•Realizing that this column is generally used to reflect area happenings (and to calm my fevered brow), I’d like to add a couple of items. The residents of 31 Strong Avenue were new to Babylon when they experienced a tragic fire just after Christmas 2014. In addition to many of their belongings, they also lost one of their two dogs at the time. But the outpouring of sympathy and help after the fire encouraged them to fix the gutted home and they have recently moved back to Strong Avenue. Their “new” home took nearly 18 months to repair, but the results are beautiful.

•The Pilot Club of Babylon is holding their second annual Belmont Stakes Cocktail Party on Sat., June 11 at the home of Irene Morris on Coppertree Lane. The fun begins at 4:30 p.m. and tickets cost $25 per person. Drinks, appetizers and a light supper (including dessert) will be served. There will be a Belmont hat contest (optional) and we’ll watch the race in style. For tickets call 587-6024.

•I'd like to recognize some really nice people who are celebrating their birthdays. Many happy returns to Paul Schulhaus, Jeff Kauf, Ann Marie Mitchell, Mary Casaburri and Roseanna Dobush! Also Happy Silver Anniversary to Jen and Ken Rogers!

•Don’t forget Monday's Memorial Day Parade, kicking off from Foster Blvd. at 11 a.m. Thanks to all of those who served or are serving to make the U.S. free!

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