A blighted property on Windmill Lane that has been a thorn in the side of Southampton Village officials was recently given a once over and junk that has accumulated over the years was removed.
Mayor Mark Epley said during Tuesday evening's Village Board meeting that a fire marshal had investigated the property and wrote five code violations to the owner of the empty building. “They were in front of the court, and they started a cleanup of that property,” he said.
"They took quite a few dumpsters away and removed all the bamboo — cleaning up all the stuff that should have been cleaned up along time ago," Epley said.
The bamboo was clearcut and mattresses and other debris were gone when Patch visited Tuesday evening. But the building is still a shadow of its former self.
Some windows are boarded up while others are broken, leaving 22 Windmill Lane open to the elements and critters. It has been sprayed with graffiti both inside and out, and photos provided by the village before the cleanup began showed beer bottles and other litter strewn about inside, indicating trespassers were there.
Robert Strada, a historic restoration expert, said in recent interviews that the house, which once belonged to Henry Rhodes, a sea captain, was built before the Revolutionary War at the corner of North Main Street and Hampton Road. But when Southampton Town decided around 1920 to build a new town hall there, the Rhodes house was moved to 22 Windmill Lane.
What can be seen from the street is not part of the original Rhodes house, Strada explained. “When you look at 22 Windmill Lane, there is this odd façade on it. The original building is just that small building beneath the gable roof.”
"It's a property that I've been pretty passionate about preserving for a long time," Strada said on Thursday. A successful cleanup that keeps trespassers out of the building will be a really good thing, he added. "Because the last thing we need is a fire or something where the building is destroyed."
"It's going to be an ongoing issue, but it's a good start," Epley said Tuesday of the cleanup.