Briella TomassettiMay 15, 2017, 5:11 pmMay 15, 2017, 5:17 pm

Residents urge officials to halt demolition order set to raze charred Baxter House

Despite official's health and safety concerns, neighbors are urging them to preserve the structure

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Fate of historic Baxter House uncertain as owner mulls options for property  

A centuries-old landmark in Port Washington is set to be knocked down after it was destroyed by a fire in February. Despite concerns about the structure’s safety, some are pleading with officials to keep the Baxter House standing.

"We've been fighting to help save it. After the fire though, the village seems to have just lost the appetite to fight for it and issued a demolition order," Baxter Estates resident Michael Scotto said.

Scotto lives just up the block from the historic 334-year-old landmark. He along with some other residents wrote a letter to the village on Monday to persuade officials to change their minds about the house.

"I mean if you take a look at the house there are pieces falling off, but maybe you want to just remedy that rather than take the whole house down," Scotto said.

But, in a letter sent to the property’s owner, Sabrina Wu of Queens, who has owned the property since 2003, village building inspector Joe Saladino wrote that the Baxter House was "unsafe and dangerous to the life, health, safety, and property of neighboring residents."

The vacant house has been a major controversy for several years.

Wu had originally taken interest in either tearing it down or building a replica but many neighbors say Wu failed to maintain the structure long before the fire left it in ruins.

"The expectation was that she would properly maintain this house, and over the ensuing 13 years, she basically abandoned it as a viable historic structure," Long Island Traditions Director Nancy Solomon said.

Wu's lawyer, Thomas Levin, released a statement on her behalf, saying:

"long prior to the Feb. 5 fire, which destroyed the house, Ms. Wu had provided the village with engineering and architectural findings that the house was unsafe, and that it should be demolished."

Levin says that at first, the village didn't consider those reports. But after multiple inspections, the village is now allowing her to go through the proper documentation to get a demolition permit.

Depending on when a contractor is hired, the Baxter House could be razed by the end of this month.

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