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Malta historic landmark could be razed

The house at 127 Dunning St. in Malta has been standing since 1850 on a patch of land known as the Parade Ground. Militia drills were conducted there during the Revolutionary War and the Civil War and the building itself once served as the parsonage for the historic Malta Presbyterian Church. It is one of four buildings in the Dunning Street Historic District, which was settled around 1771 and declared a historic district by the Malta Town Board in 1990.

Now, this structure is in danger of being demolished by its owner, Green Malta Development Group, LLC, because of extensive damage sustained by a maple tree limb during a hailstorm in June 2008. It has been trying to gain approval for demolition from the Town of Malta Historic Preservation Review Commission since February 2009. On Monday, Dec. 21, the commission met again with the development group and was deadlocked in their decision.

James T. Roberts of Green Malta Development Group, LLC said that while he appreciates the historical aspects of the property, he believes the building itself lacks historical significance and is damaged too extensively to save.

My engineer said that as far as structural damage and being unstable, the building is 50 percent beyond repair 50 percent of the roof and northeast wall would have to be removed and replaced. A minimum of 25 percent of the second floor is damaged and there is mold throughout 100 percent of the building. The mold has worsened over the year, but I don't believe it has anything to do with what I've done or haven't done to prevent thatonce mold is in there and contained, it will grow in the heat or cold. Last time I was there, there were mold spores probably four inches all over the top of the floor, you literally have to walk on the mold," said Roberts. "My opinion is that it would be unfeasible and financially burden to remove the mold and to preserve the building. The outside Parade Ground is historical, from the house out, but I'm not so certain about the building itself, especially since it's been remodeled two or three different times in the last few decades."

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