A controversial temporary chain-link fence separating Opus 40 from the home of its late creator Harvey Fite will come down within the next week, the not-for-profit Opus 40 Inc. announced in a news release Thursday.
Opus 40 said that an agreement for the fence’s removal was developed by the not-for-profit with input from Fite’s stepson Tad Richards and Saugerties Town Supervisor Fred Costello. The not-for-profit said the agreement ensures that any ongoing activities at Fite House do not present “major safety liabilities or have any other negative impact for the nonprofit organization or its Board of Directors.”
“We are extremely grateful to Fred Costello for his generosity in helping this agreement take shape and likewise, share his commitment that it be followed,” Opus 40 Executive Director Caroline Crumpacker said. “We greatly appreciate his commitment to both Opus 40 and the Richards family so very much and look forward to a productive next chapter together. We also thank the Richards for participating in this process.”
Arick Manocha, Fite’s step-great-grandson, who does not live full-time at the house, said he was also grateful to Fred Costello for helping to bring the family and the not-for-profit to this agreement.
Manocha said the family is still selling the home and entertaining offers for it.
The not-for-profit erected the fence back in June over liability concerns related to potential falls from people trespassing on the sculpture at night. Manocha hosted a pair of events at the Fite House back in May, before a cease-and-desist order was issued that month by the town Building Department in response to complaints of late-night noise from neighbors and from the not-for-profit of people venturing out on the sculpture after hours. Manocha said in July that he has not held a public event since the cease-and-desist order was issued.
But the fence drew outrage from a number of longtime Opus 40 fans and volunteers who said it defiled Fite’s legacy and a petition on change.org posted by “Friends of Opus 40” calling for its removal attracted 500 signatures.
Manocha said Thursday the Fite House has been deleted as a listing on short-term rental site Airbnb and camping booking site HipCamp.
Previous plans calling for the not-for-profit to purchase the home and reunite the site, possibly for use as a museum complementing the sculpture, have not yet come to fruition.