Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto said Tuesday that the best way to preserve historic Mill Pond House may be to sell it with protective covenants to a private buyer to use as an office or home.
Venditto also promised video surveillance will be set up at the 334-year-old house at the west end of West Main Street in Oyster Bay. A chain-link fence set up around the house wasn't sufficient to prevent an arsonist or vandal from damaging one of the oldest structures in the hamlet, preservationists said.
Venditto spoke at a town board meeting after Philip Blocklyn, executive director of the Oyster Bay Historical Society and a leader of the Oyster Bay Preservation Roundtable, asked about the status of the house following two suspicious fires in March.
The town has been waiting for an engineering firm's report on the cost and feasibility of restoration, and preservationists have voiced concerns that the town might tear Mill Pond House down.
Venditto told Blocklyn he wants to save the house if feasible, but added that the town has no plans for how to use the building and "we don't have the funding for it."
Preservationists have suggested the town sell the house to save it and get it back on the tax rolls. Venditto called that idea "very interesting." He promised to meet with preservationists in about two weeks to discuss possibilities for saving the house.
"Preservation is the objective," he said. "I'm just not sure what the procedure will be to get there."
Blocklyn afterward called it "a very positive development" that the town is considering selling the house with protective covenants.
The town purchased the house and 2-acre property in 2008 from developer Charles Wang for $1.9 million.