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Fate Of Somers' Reynolds House In Debate

SOMERS, N.Y. – The Somers Parks and Recreation Board balked Tuesday at supplying $100,000 to jump-start renovations at the dilapidated Reynolds House in the Angle Fly Preserve. The board voted instead to recommend a study of whether the Revolutionary War structure and two other long-abandoned properties should be repaired or demolished.

“In 2010 we passed a resolution stating that we were willing to contribute up to $100,000 toward rehabilitating the Reynolds House if the Somers Land Trust ran short of funds toward the completion of the project,” said board Chairman Jim Papa. The Land Trust hopes to renovate the house, built in 1775 or shortly thereafter, with volunteer help and donations of materials.

“I made it clear that we would not fund the front part of the project,” Papa said. Funding upfront could result in an unfinished project if more money failed to materialize later.

The Land Trust is now asking for $100,000 before actual reconstruction begins, to be used for remediating lead and asbestos in the building.

Discussion ensued about the wisdom of repairing the Reynolds House without addressing two other vulnerable, vandal-luring sites at Angle Fly, an unfinished condominium complex and the Tatham House, both long abandoned.

Papa pointed out that a professional report prepared for the Westchester Land Trust several years ago recommended that some of the abandoned structures be demolished because of dangerous conditions and the projected cost of repairs.

Papa said it is imperative to devise an overall plan for the three hazardous sites before any investment is made in the Reynolds House alone. He proposed forming a committee, comprising representatives of Parks and Recreation, the Town Board and the Somers Land Trust, to assess the wisdom of repairing or demolishing the buildings.

The board agreed to draft a motion modifying the 2010 agreement to include a committee-devised master plan and to clarify that the $100,000 is reserved for the Reynolds’ completion phase and is contingent upon the recommendations of the committee.

“The town owns the Reynolds House,” said Bob MacGregor, a member of the Somers Land Trust board. “It’s in an historical corridor. We’ve volunteered to rebuild it to do something good for the community at no cost to the taxpayer.

“We need a bit of funding to help us get started. The house would eventually be used to house a town employee, who’d pay the town rent and provide a visible presence on the property.

“It would cost $75,000 to $85,000 to take down the house and the trees. If they put $100,000 into renovations, the house would eventually be valued at $500,000 to $600,000.”

Papa will present the board’s findings to the Town Board at its Thursday meeting, which starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Town House.

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