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Report: Brookhaven neglect had doomed Mott House

Brookhaven Town's years of neglect left the historic Mott House in a state where it might have been impossible to fix at the time it fell apart, according to a consultant's report on the building's collapse.

The 185-year-old Coram building collapsed in September as contract workers the town hired were cleaning it.

The report by former Suffolk County Police Commissioner John Gallagher, hired by the town to investigate the collapse, says Brookhaven failed to "undertake a structural analysis of the building and to evaluate the cost" of fixing Mott House before buying it in 2002.

Gallagher's report calls on the town to hire preservation experts before any future attempts to preserve historic buildings. The report also urges town officials to undertake "a comprehensive engineering review of its historic structures" to determine their stability.

Gallagher said in a phone interview that the town shouldn't purchase historic sites without "the wherewithal to maintain them and someone with the passion and interest to see that they are maintained."

Supervisor Mark Lesko said the town was already reviewing its historic properties. He said he agreed with Gallagher that preservation "requires specific expertise and also money" and said the town will try to make better-informed decisions going forward.

The Mott House was home to Albert Mott, a 19th-century seaman. The town was planning to renovate the site, which was littered with squatters' debris and dead animals, at the time it collapsed.

Some local residents said they saw workers taking apart the house before it collapsed on Sept. 23.

Brookhaven officials later announced plans to spend up to $200,000 to use pieces salvaged from the Mott House to erect a new building in the style of the home.

Former Deputy Parks Commissioner Carol Bissonette, who was stripped of her oversight of historic sites after the collapse and later fired by Lesko, said she was annoyed that she wasn't interviewed for Gallagher's report. She said she had "repeatedly" asked town officials to address the condition of the Mott House.

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