United Water Co. says a 1700s farmhouse on watershed land in West Nyack, which local residents hoped to preserve as a landmark, is being torn down.
The utility has received a demolition permit for 312 Strawtown Road, known as the Teabury Port House. It was issued by the Town of Clarkstown, with unanimous approval of the Historic Review Board, according to United Water spokeswoman Deb Rizzi.
United Water contends the house is unsafe. Demolition work started this week, including asbestos abatement and preservation of some of the sandstone from the farmhouse for historical purposes, Rizzi said.
The house is on a 168 acre tract along Lake DeForest that is used for watershed protection.
In 1993, United Water entered into an agreement with the previous the Town of Clarkstown to run the home, which was rented out by the town. However, in 2009 Clarkstown turned the property back over to the company, citing its condition and the cost of maintenance and repairs.
Rizzi said that despite significant efforts, no one was able to identify a government agency or a nonprofit organization that has resources or expertise to restore the home.
"While United Water appreciates the sentiment regarding the home, use of customer dollars to preserve a historic building is not consistent with its mission to provide the community with safe drinking water," Rizzi said.
In 2011, Clarkstown’s Historical Review Board rejected a request by United Water Co. for a permit to demolish the home in West Nyack.
The decision comes as the utility, town officials and residents of West Nyack tried to find a way of preserving the 1700s farmhouse.
At the time, United Water Co. attorney John Dillon said the utility could not pay the estimated $350,000 to $500,000 needed to repair and restore the home and wanted to tear down he the structure and a nearby garage.
Since the old farmhouse is designated as a historic structure by Clarkstown, the Historical Review Board’s approval was needed for town building officials to issue a demolition permit.
The fate of the old farmhouse has been a recurring issue in Clarkstown for decades.
Under the administration of then town Supervisor Charles Holbrook, Clarkstown took over the house in a lease with United Water and in turn rented out the house. Current Clarkstown Supervisor Alex Gromack said the house reached such a condition because of its age that the town could no longer afford to be responsible for the structure and gave up its lease.
An architect hired by United Water estimated that the cost of renovating and restoring the building could be as high as $500,000.
The house was originally part of a farm on Strawtown Road. Before it returned to use a private residence, it had been the site of a tea importing business.
West Nyack and New City residents opposed the demolition of the farmhouse, suggesting that it should be made into a local museum.