05/02/13 6:00am
05/02/2013 6:00 AM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | The collapsed remains of what once was the General Wayne Inn in Southold.

To the editor:

The saga of the General Wayne Inn, ending with its inevitable demise (“Town: Take the Old Inn Down,” April 25) evokes a comparison with the fate of the Old Barge acquired by the state earlier in the year.

What I find troubling, or certainly suggestive of a double standard, is why the owners of the General Wayne who paid a hefty amount for the Inn back in 2003 and then were denied operating permits for a more modern commercial enterprise and then lost it to the county, are held in general contempt for its current woeful state while the owners of the Old Barge, which was condemned by the town late last year after years of deliberate neglect, are heralded almost as heroes for selling their blighted property to the state for a boat ramp.

Although I don’t know the intricacies of either situation, it seems to me that the owners of the General Wayne were in an even more difficult economic situation than the family that had inherited the Old barge, because of severe mortgage and tax responsibilities on a non-functioning business. While there may have been some interest in public acquisition of the property, it never happened. The Old Barge was purchased by the state, taking the owners off the hook for the sorry state they left it in.

I remember going to a nice banquet fundraiser at the General Wayne Inn for the North Fork Environmental Council in the mid-90s. I saw how hard the proprietors at that time worked, in what was still a functioning facility, to serve over 150 guests. Obviously there was not enough to be gained by continuing to run it as a restaurant, and finally, with the application for a catering facility being rejected, there was no economic future for the historic Inn.

The saga represents both a curious double standard and the difficulties in maintaining viable commercial enterprises in an area where taxes and the general cost of living are high, but the population is low. The resolutions are vastly different, with the state bailing out one owner but not the other.

While a historic marker should one day mark the site of both businesses, no plaque of thanks should be left behind for the lucky family that was able to find a public buyer for its property.

Harry Katz, Southold

To read more letters to the editor, pick up a copy of this week’s Suffolk Times or click on the E-Paper.

04/27/13 11:00am
04/27/2013 11:00 AM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | The collapsed remains of what once was the General Wayne Inn in Southold.

After years watching the building slowly decay, the town is taking action against the owners of the once-popular General Wayne Inn in the Bayview area of Southold. Monday, the town building department notified the property owner, Ovlasid Realty LLC of Farmingdale, that it has 60 days to comply with the town’s building code or face the building’s demolition, with the town attaching the cost to the property tax bill.

The fenced-in, 3.1-acre property at 1275 Cedar Beach Road is in an extreme state of disrepair.

“The building is a blight,” Southold Supervisor Scott Russell said. “It needs to be razed, restored and cleaned up.”

Chief building inspector Mike Verity said the town has been working to clean up the site for years, but multiple ownership changes have slowed the process.

Ovlasid Realty bought the property for $830,000 in November 2003 but lost the title to Suffolk County for back taxes. After paying $52,732 to the county, the company reacquired the property in March 2008.

The General Wayne Inn has a long and colorful history. The site is on the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities’ list of historically significant properties, but it has never been officially declared a landmark deserving of protection.

The building was constructed around a house that Maj. Gilbert Horton, who was also a blacksmith and farmer, had built for his bride in 1784. Five generations of Hortons, who trace their lineage back to the North Fork’s first English-speaking settlers, lived there.

In the early 20th century, the home was sold to Edwin H. Brown, who converted it into the Cedar Beach Inn. By 1949 the property included seven other buildings and 175 acres, including farmland and waterfront.

Much of the property was later subdivided and sold off, leaving just the Cedar Beach Inn and the three acres. In 1982, Victor Farinha Jr. and Duane Seaman bought and renovated the building and opened the General Wayne Inn. After that business closed in 1998, the property was sold to Lambda Associates for $410,000. The building has remained vacant since then. Local objections killed efforts to convert it into a catering hall.

The property had been split zoned, half business, half two-acre residential, but the Town Board eliminated the business zoning in 2008, when the county acquired the property. Under current zoning, only one house can be built on the property.

Mr. Verity is optimistic that the current owners will respond within 60 days.

“They are working with us and we are working with them to clean it up,” he said.

Although a street address is listed for Ovlasid Realty, a phone number could not be found by presstime.

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