Looking back at 2019, Oyster Bay seems to have had an interesting year, much like the rest of the country. The year started off on an unusual note with a federal government shutdown underway that affected many government departments, including staffing at national parks. While Sagamore Hill National Historic Site was closed due to the shutdown, on Christmas Eve, 2018, a fire broke out in the boiler room of the visitor’s center. About 100 volunteers from at least six local fire departments responded to the blaze that gutted the non-historic building. Editor Jill Nossa reported on the aftermath of the fire in the first Oyster Bay Enterprise-Pilot issue of the year. The shutdown ended on Jan. 25, making it the longest U.S. government shutdown in history.
Oyster Bay’s Sagamore Hill was the home of President Theodore Roosevelt and on Jan. 6, dozens of groups gathered at his grave site in Youngs Memorial Cemetery to recognize the 100th anniversary of his death. Many local Boy Scouts, members of the Theodore Roosevelt Association, members of the Youngs Memorial Cemetery board and representatives from Sagamore Hill participated in the ceremony. “Theodore Roosevelt achieved greatness, not only as an American president but also as a historian, biographer, statesman, hunter, outdoorsman, naturalist, fisherman, writer and the winner of a Nobel Peace Prize,” said Joseph Saladino, Town of Oyster Bay supervisor.
Residents of Oyster Bay are a generous bunch. Throughout the year, many groups held events to raise money for charitable causes. In February, Oyster Bay High School’s chapter of the National Junior Honor Society began fundraising efforts for YOLO Strong Foundation, which strives to make a positive difference in the lives of sick children and their families. Later that month, the chef and co-owners of 2 spring hosted a mixer event at the restaurant to support the Youth and Family Counseling Agency of Oyster Bay-East Norwich.
In March, the Enterprise-Pilot interviewed Bayville’s favorite history buff, Bill Bleyer, and previewed his fourth book on local history, Long Island and the Sea: A Maritime History. The book, published on April 8, combined the author’s passion for both history and the sea in its comprehensive coverage of topics including Native Americans, the Age of Discovery and current preservation efforts. Billy Joel wrote the foreword.
Tragedy struck on April 8 when Marine Corporal Robert Hendriks was killed in a roadside car bomb attack in Afghanistan. The Locust Valley High School graduate was one of three American service members killed in the attack. When the sad news of Hendriks’ death reached the community, flags were lowered at Locust Valley High School and at the war monument on Forest Avenue. The Falcon Pride Athletic Booster Club honored Hendriks with a memorial scholarship fund, which raised more than $30,000 in the first month. Donations can be made at falcon-pride-association.square.site.
In July, the Town of Oyster Bay Landmarks Commission approved the proposed reconstruction and restoration plans for Snouders Corner Drug Store, a historic building that had sat empty for many years on the corner of South Street and West Main Street in Oyster Bay.The mid-18th-century building will be restored to its former glory, maintaining elements of the 1920s addition of the metal shopfront. Locals are excited about the project which will preserve the beauty the building imparts on the town.
In August, an act of vandalism shook the community. Swastikas were painted at the picnic pavilion at Theodore Roosevelt Memorial park. Local leaders were quick to denounce the crime and the hate symbols were swiftly removed. Legislator Joshua Lafazan (Woodbury) announced a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible for defacing the park.
Two house fires broke out in Bayville in mid-November, claiming the lives of three residents. More than 200 Bayville villagers, friends and neighbors gathered at the Bayville commons on Nov. 20 for a candlelight vigil in remembrance of Walter Baron, Sonia Baron and Frederick Eugene Derenthal III.