Oyster Bay to go slow on Mill Pond House future

Nassau police say a suspicious fire that severely damaged a historic Oyster Bay building Saturday, March 22, 2014, was the second blaze there in less than a week. The fire marshal and arson-bomb squad detectives have deemed the fire suspicious in a preliminary investigation. (Credit: Johnny Milano)

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto promised Tuesday to confer with preservationists before deciding whether the historic Mill Pond House could be saved after a suspicious fire Saturday night.

Preservation supporters urged Venditto and the town board at Tuesday's meeting not to make a hasty decision.

The 334-year-old building "is one of Oyster Bay hamlet's oldest houses," said Philip Blocklyn, executive director of the Oyster Bay Historical Society. "It is a house that should not be torn down if there is any chance of saving it. It is part of our heritage."


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He asked the town to consult with him and other members of the Oyster Bay Preservation Roundtable, which comprises leaders of historical groups and museums in the hamlet.

"I agree with everything you just said 100 percent," Venditto said. "Nobody's going to rush to judgment. We will have an open mind."

Venditto said he would share a report being prepared by an architectural consultant and insurance adjusters when it is completed, probably next week. And he pledged to involve the preservationists in discussions before he and the board make any decisions.

"If the diagnosis is fatal" and the house has to be torn down, Venditto said he would ask the preservationists and residents for ideas about what should be done with the property.

Ben Jankowski, another member of the roundtable, said if the town restored Mill Pond House but had no use for it, "find a way to work through the private sector and put it back on the tax rolls" with covenants to protect it. He added it should be nominated for the National Register of Historic Places.

The town declared the structure a landmark in 1976.

Nassau County police Tuesday said they had no new information in the investigation of the fire that burned part of the 1950s addition to the house. The town in 2008 purchased the house and 2-acre property from developer Charles Wang for $1.9 million.The blaze was the second at the building in less than a week. Firefighters on March17 put out a small fire that damaged one room of the historic structure.

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