The Oyster Bay Town landmarks preservation committee voted Wednesday night to hire an expert to assess the condition of the historic former Snouder’s Corner Drug Store.
The owner has said he wants to fully or partially demolish the store, which many local residents want saved.
The committee voted following a discussion regarding potential changes to the building. About 75 people attended the meeting.
The owner, Great Neck businessman Hamid Nazif has not yet made a formal application for demolition or renovation of the building, which was the site of the town’s first telephone, used by future President Theodore Roosevelt.
Nazif bought the town landmark in 2015, five years after the store closed. He has said that his plans include a building with retail on the ground floor and about six apartments on two floors above.
Nazif said in March that the wooden Victorian-style exterior — most of which was built in the late 1800s — appears to be unsalvageable, because “all those shingles there are rotten . . . they have no value.”
Cynthia Clark of Huntington, who also is involved in an effort to save the historic Marion Carll Farm in Commack, said the building “was purchased knowing it was a landmark with all its issues, with all its deterioration and neglect over the years. My sincerest hope for this building is that it is enforced that the building retain its current facade restored to its original glory.”
The South and Main Street facades of the building are protected by the town’s landmarks law, although that law allows for demolition or alteration to remedy unsafe or dangerous conditions.
Oyster Bay resident Gregory Talamo, 35, accused Nazif of “letting it go into disrepair so you can bypass the rules and the laws that were created to maintain the integrity of the building.”
Nazif did not speak at the meeting and he declined to comment afterward.
Yet Mill Neck resident Donna Scala, 63, who regularly drives by the building, said the store, with its peeling paint and deteriorated appearance, “is a black eye on the town. Something needs to happen.”
“If everybody is so very concerned about preserving this, get together, get the money up and purchase it from the owner and do what you will with it,” she said.
Michael Sergio Tedesco, a partner of Oyster Bay’s Core Group Architects, LLP, who is working with Nazif on the project, told commission members that some of the shingles may in fact be salvageable, and an examination of them would indicate what can be saved.
“The intent is to try to reuse as much as we can,” he said.