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Islip Town boards up century-old Vanderbilt Mansion after complaints of trespassing, vandalism

The Idle Hour mansion in Oakdale has been

The Idle Hour mansion in Oakdale has been boarded up after complaints about vandalism and trespassing in the historic building. Credit: Veronique Louis

Windows and doorways of the century-old Idle Hour mansion in Oakdale have been boarded up after complaints from neighbors about vandalism and trespassing in the historic building.

Islip Town work crews on Oct. 22 boarded up the building on the former Dowling College campus about a month after a Bayport man was charged with breaking into the mansion, built in about 1903 by railroad heir William K. Vanderbilt.

The town board had voted on Oct. 19 to cover a breezeway and "board up any other vulnerable areas where vandals might gain access and damage this historic property," Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter said.

"I think everyone on this town board will agree that all department heads that are directly involved have worked extremely hard on this issue," she said Thursday in a statement to Newsday. "We’ve done everything we can to address the myriad of concerns on this property. There are legal steps that we must take, and if we fail to do that, no one benefits."

Oakdale residents have complained about trespassing at the 25-acre site ever since it became vacant when Dowling closed in 2016.

A Delaware-based company, Mercury International, purchased the property for $26.1 million in a 2017 auction and announced plans to build an educational center at the site. Town officials said the company has been slow to submit specific plans and has indicated it may put the property back up for sale.

Mercury officials could not be reached for comment.

Oakdale residents have said they discovered more than $50,000 worth of damage at the property this summer, including broken stained-glass windows, smashed furnishings and office equipment used as battering rams. Potentially valuable copper gutters were stripped from the mansion last year, they said.

David Chan, an Oakdale neighborhood watch member who has participated in patrols on the campus, welcomed the boardup but said he wished the town had done more.

"I’m happy that after two years we finally got the town to acknowledge and do something," said Chan, a retired NYPD detective. The neighborhood watch group goes on the property with permission from Suffolk police and Islip officials.

"It wasn’t done 100% the way it should be. [But] we’re not going to complain too much," Chan said. "We’re also concerned that this week is Halloween, so it could be an attraction" for vandals.

Suffolk police last month said they had charged Kenneth Noheyl, 58, of Bayport, with third-degree criminal trespass, a misdemeanor, after he was found inside Idle Hour on Sept. 27. Online court records show he is scheduled to be arraigned Nov. 5 in First District Court in Central Islip.

Noheyl could not be reached for comment, and court records show he is not represented by an attorney.

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