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L.I. Estate Debate Sparked By Unusual Compromise Involving Bourne Estate

OAKDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- An estate debate is taking place on Long Island.

A town is allowing hundreds of condos to be built in exchange for the preservation of one of the island's original mansions, but some say it's not a good trade.

The Bourne Estate in Oakdale has plenty of history. The owner of the Singer Sewing machine company built the palatial waterfront home and entertained presidents there.

Frederick Bourne's 1897 mansion was the size of a football field, but now, it's in desperate need of a repair, CBS 2's Carolyn Gusoff reported.

"It would have been such a shame if these beautiful old buildings were demolished because they're already beginning to fall into serious disrepair," said Trish Bergin Weichbrodt, Deputy Supervisor of the Town of Islip.

Bergin said a whopping $40 million is needed to keep the mansion and historic boathouse from falling apart, but because of an unusual compromise, they will be repaired and preserved forever.

The Town of Islip town has OK'd zoning to allow 384 condo units on part of the property.

"You have to start to think outside of the box. The economy is terrible, nobody has money. These big, old mansions don't bring in any money," Bergin said.

The mansion property is owned by St John's University, which had the right to level the old buildings and put up 100 homes. The condo deal saves the mansion, but some neighbors think it's a high price to pay for history.

"I guess we're in for a lot more traffic," said one local resident.

"They're talking about 1,100 parking places, 384 units and unless the people are walking or riding horseback, you're gonna just close this whole road off," said another man.

But St. John's officials said the condos will boost the local economy and they'll hold up their end by preserving the historic value of the property.

Town officials said they believe the tradeoff can serve as a model for other historic properties -- developing part, but preserving part is better than losing a piece of history forever.

What Are Your Thoughts On The Development Plan?  Share Your Thoughts In The Comments Section...

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