Pushing for further corrective action, Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony J. Santino called upon the owners of the Source Mall in Westbury to remediate conditions that detract from a town-designated landmark. The site at the southeast corner of the mall marks the location where Charles Lindbergh’s “Spirit of St. Louis” plane lifted off the ground as the famed aviator commenced his trip into the history books as the first person to complete a non-stop, solo airplane flight across the Atlantic Ocean. Following the town’s granting of landmark status in July of 2013, a collection of mammoth rose bushes appear to have been planted, which completely obscured the monument from view. In a dramatic response to outrage on the part of town officials, the mall owner has already taken partial steps to restore the monument to its condition at the time of landmarking, substantially trimming back bushes that totally blocked the public’s view of the tribute stone. Joining Santino at a press conference at the monument site were Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, along with Councilmen Anthony D’Esposito and Dennis Dunne.
“I want to thank the mall’s owners for taking a positive first step in restoring the monument,” said Santino. “Now, we would like the owners to take additional steps to completely remove the shrubs that still partially obscure the monument from the public’s view.”
Santino and his governmental colleagues visited the Lindbergh site on May 20th of 2017 to mark the 90th anniversary of Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight, discovering that the landmarked stone had been completely obscured from view by a huge array of bushes. The bushes were only in front of the monument, not in other locations surrounding the “Lindy” tribute marker.
The Supervisor stated that he had written a letter to the Source Mall’s owner, CMAT 1909-C1 Old Country Road, LLC. and its agent, Newmark & Company Real Estate, Inc., insisting that the obstruction in front of the Lindbergh Monument be removed, and the grounds surrounding the historic marker be restored to the conditions that existed at the time of the location’s landmarking. He indicated that he is pleased that the owners have shown respect for the monument by beginning the process of removing the offending bushes.
“The right thing to do is to ensure that Charles Lindbergh’s legacy remains intact,” stated Goosby. “Completely removing the bushes from in front of the monument will allow people to learn more about this important moment in aviation history.”
The Hempstead Town Code has very specific regulations with regard to alterations of sites that have been landmarked by the town. In particular, the code states, “The Commission (Landmarks Preservation Commission) shall review all plans for moving, exterior construction, alteration or repair, landscaping…” Further, the code states, “It shall be the duty of the Commission to review the plans before the Department of Buildings issues a building permit therefor.”
“The town landmarks sites of historical significance for several reasons,” said D’Esposito. “And, one of the reasons we take action on historical sites is to preserve them, not hide them from public view.”
The Town Board acted on July 9 of 2013 on the recommendation of the town’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, designating a 2,500-square foot plot surrounding the monument. The monument was clearly visible on that date.
“As a veteran, I know the importance of preserving our nation’s history,” said Dunne. “I was happy to join the fight for the restoration of this important monument.”
Upon conferring landmark status to the monument in 2013, a town press release noted, “Landmark status protects the monument from any developments or construction at the site. To make any alternations to a landmarked monument, property owners would be required to seek approval from the town’s Landmarks Commission.”
“Our town has a rightful place in aviation history, which was built upon the remarkable journey of Charles Lindbergh,” concluded Santino. “While I thank the mall owner for taking positive action on this issue, I call upon them to completely remove the shrubs which still partially block this historic location. The Lindbergh story deserves to be heralded from the highest ground in Hempstead Town, not hidden behind some bushes.”