Architect Gives Boost To Reynolds House In Somers

SOMERS, N.Y. – An architect has stepped up to help with renovating the dilapidated 18th-century Reynolds House in Somers’ Angle Fly Preserve, says a board member of the Somers Land Trust.

“We’ve had a quantum leap,” Bob MacGregor of the Somers Land Trust told the Town Board last week. “We’ve found an architect who’s willing to donate his services and advise us about getting the maximum donations from contractors and suppliers.”

The wisdom of rehabilitating the deteriorated structure was discussed at last week’s Town Board meeting.

Although the town owns the building, the Land Trust is the major proponent for rehabilitation and would take financial and practical responsibility for the project. The goal is to rebuild the Reynolds House as a one-family home, in a style similar to the original, MacGregor said.

“We’d like to do a cedar shake roof, but we’d consider a look-alike material. Same for the siding,” he said. “We’d aim for a three-bedroom house, though it depends on what the septic fields will allow.”

Completion of the work is expected to take about three years.

“The first thing is to get the architect’s proposal so we know what’s involved, what can be done by volunteers, and where we’d need licensed workers,” MacGregor said. “Before we can even address the septic plans we’d need a property survey to figure out what’s most viable.”

One of the first issues in rehabilitation would be the existence of mold, asbestos and lead paint. “We’ve got to deal with removing that before any volunteers go in,” MacGregor said.

Town Board members pointed out there is a long-term risk if that work is not done correctly. Board member Rick Morrissey suggested that the removal of dead and dying trees around the perimeter should be the first priority.

MacGregor said he thinks volunteers would come forward to work at least 3,000 hours.

“The trust will raise at least $100,000 between donations and grants,” he said. “Parks and Recreation has offered us $100,000. Places like Home Depot will contribute as much as $5,000 in supplies.”

MacGregor said the town’s expenses may include providing a survey and a septic plan.

The Energy Advisory Council will help design an energy-efficient building and give advice and help on getting grants and pro bono work. The building inspector and town engineer would have to oversee the work.

“There’s a lot we don’t know yet,” said Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy. “Will it make sense in the long run? We have to be fiscally responsible.”

The Land Trust will continue to report to the Town Board as more information is acquired.

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