Some things in life are worth saving

Published 9:17 pm Saturday, May 16, 2009

If there were one person who is responsible for turning Suffolk into the community it is today, it would be Amedeo Obici. Obici came into the United States a poor immigrant and left the world and Suffolk with a legacy. The evidence is all around us. When Obici died in 1947, he left 98 percent of his wealth to the future citizens of Suffolk for health care. His fortune was the source for constructing the Louise Obici hospital, which continues to operate under the Sentara administration. A large portion also created the Obici Health Care Foundation, which has impacted literally thousands of Suffolk citizens by its generous contributions.

Yet, there seems to be an unsettling situation brewing with a home he once resided in – now called the Obici house. He and his wife lived in the house from 1924 until their deaths. A relative acquired the home and sold it.

Since the sale of the house, it has gone through a series of transactions, finally ending up in the hands of the city of Suffolk. It is located near what is now the 18th hole on the Sleepy Hole Golf Course.

Email newsletter signup

But now, some residents fear that Obici’s house is about to be torn down. Of particular interest, though, is that according to a 2008 request for proposals it states, “The Obici House and adjoining Carriage House will no longer be included as part of this Request for Proposals. The City has elected to remove these elements from the proposed project and enter into separate negotiations with an interested group, whose interest is solely on the restoration of the Obici House back to its original luster and the preservation of the Obici legacy. This effort may require the subdivision of the Obici House and Carriage House. Removal of the Obici House from the RFP is not intended to impact the original intent of the RFQ/ RFP process, but to provide an overall enhancement to the property. The City will be looking for the successful offeror to partner with the City and the Obici House group to achieve the vision of both entities.”

So it’s difficult to understand how or why tearing down the house is even an option. But a number of concerned citizens fear that destroying the house is, in fact, a possibility.

The house has fallen into poor condition, requiring a substantial investment for its restoration, causing some to argue that the golf course and city would be better served by demolishing the house and building a brand new clubhouse with all the amenities you’d find in the PGA.

Sure, it would be nice to have such a clubhouse, but the significance of the house is just too important for such a thing to occur. And since city leaders have not verbalized any intent on the house, keeping quiet on the situation due to it being under negotiations, we don’t have all the facts.

Allowing anything other than the restoration of the house is unwise and a slap in the face of a man who has meant so much to Suffolk. Let’s hope our city leaders aren’t foolish enough to allow such a thing to happen.