By RICK WILLIAMS
Since December 2011, the private owners in Oakwood Park, through the Oakwood Property Owners Association, have been working in earnest with the Oakwood Foundation’s court appointed receiver, Mr. Ian Rolland, to attempt to work out a compromise regarding the private owners’ lake access and green space rights that have been enjoyed by them and many of their parents and grandparents for over 100 years.
To recognize the long history of such use and enjoyment, and to safeguard these rights in the future, these rights were memorialized in a covenant approved by the Oakwood Foundation and recorded in July 2004. Over the long history of Oakwood Park, the private owners have enjoyed a long and mutually beneficial relationship with the Evangelical Church, the Evangelical United Brethren Church and the United Methodist Church.
Because they were not-for-profit entities, through the years these owners sold lots within Oakwood Park to the private owners for the purpose of raising money for improvements to the park. In addition, the private owners helped these not-for-profits by routinely paying assessments to help maintain Oakwood Park.
As in the case of all previous owners of Oakwood Park, it is both anticipated and expected that the private owners will continue to have the same good neighbor relationship with Dr. Rex Parent and his sons, who now have Oakwood Park under option to purchase.
Unfortunately, negotiations have stalled. While the private owners are willing to relinquish a number of the rights that they have routinely enjoyed within Oakwood Park over the generations, agreement has not been reached as to the degree of reduction to certain fundamental rights granted to the private owners, including specifically, the right to use the “beach and swimming area” around the Oakwood Inn (now 790 feet but 30 feet under the receivers and buyers last proposal), as well as the continued right to lease pier space in the channels of Oakwood Park. Each of these rights was specifically further recognized and memorialized by the foundation in the 2004 covenants.
The private owners in Oakwood Park, through the OPOA, have been and continue to be willing to negotiate with both the receiver and Parent and his sons to reach a reasonable compromise concerning reductions to the rights enjoyed over the years by the private owners. The OPOA understands that for the park to be successful, Parent and his sons will need to make a profit in Oakwood.
This realization is at the forefront of all of the compromises offered in negotiations by the OPOA. The private owners have been told that if a reasonable compromise cannot. be reached, the receiver may take unilateral action to remove or seriously erode the rights of the private owners to use and enjoy certain areas of the park, which will adversely affect the private owners’ property values that they have worked so hard to build and preserve.
In a statement made by the president of the OPOA, Rick Williams, wanted to emphasize that it is the strong preference of the OPOA and the private owners to be good neighbors to the Parent family and the Syracuse Community. They want to be allies of Parent and his sons as they seek to restore the Oakwood Inn and Oakwood Park.
Over the decades, the private owners, in addition to paying their monetary assessments to help the not-for-profit owner maintain the park, have donated thousands of hours and substantial funds to maintaining the beauty and structural integrity of the park and its cottages. “We look forward to the restoration of that beauty and to a vibrant and thriving Oakwood under the ownership of the Parent family, and we are confident that that can and will happen without serious erosion of profoundly meaningful rights which are set forth in the 2004 Covenants and which have been exercised and treasured by Oakwood property owners for decades.”