Town says dilapidated train station in Millwood must be fixed or torn down

June 10, 2011
by Christine Yeres

Last Friday the Millwood Task Force formally requested the town building inspector to have a look at the tumbledown little train station house at Station Place in Millwood to determine whether that structure is in violation of town law. See “Millwood Matters: Station house a dangerous eyesore,”, June 6, 2011.

On Monday, June 6, a letter went out from the New Castle Building Inspector’s office to the owner of the property, Leo Rota, asking him to fix it or tear it down.

According to New Castle Director of Planning David Brito, the town’s building inspector, Bill Maskiell, performed a site inspection and determined that the building was in violation of the property maintenance code of New York State. The code requires, Brito explained, “that you maintain a property. You can’t have something that is dangerous to health and safety.”

Reached by phone yesterday, the property’s owner, Leo Rota, said he hadn’t seen the letter yet, but “if the town wants me to tear it down, I’ll tear it down.  I’m not going to fight with them.  I get a lot of requests about the station building.  People seem to like it, but if people want me to tear it down, I don’t have any problem with that.”

Rota said that when his tenant Millwood Lumber implements the repaving of the lumberyard that has been approved by New Castle’s planning board, he will have those workers and trucks “take it down and take it away.” Rota was unsure of when Millwood Lumber intends to have the work done. The lumberyard has the right to use 14 parking spaces on Rota’s train station property.  A call to Millwood Lumber by was not returned.

house  detail

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What a shame.  For the 19 years that I’ve lived in town, this charming little train station has continued to deteriorate despite the efforts of numerous individuals to intercede. Too bad the Town Board couldn’t have found a way to preserve this piece of Millwood history.

By Audrey Rabinowitz on 06/10/2011 at 7:57 am

This is just what Rotta was hoping for. Notice how he said “if the town wants me to tear it down, I’ll tear it down.”  He never mentions that they also gave the option of fixing it up.  Don’t let him fool you with his claim that people keep inquiring about the station.

Although this may be true, I have personally spoken to one possible tenant that wanted to open a little snack shop several years ago.  Everything was a go until Rotta informed him at the 23rd hour that he wasn’t allowed to use 95% of the promised parking. In other words, Rotta had no intention of renting it out.  He has always wanted this to fall down on its own but this is the next best thing for him.  Can we plead with the Fire people to reconsider eminent domain?

By Disgrace on 06/10/2011 at 8:49 am

Seriously? Where I live now there are dozens of “dilapidated” buildings which are now historical sites (mostly old miner out houses). It is illegal to even touch them. At the very least bring it up to NY standard and put a plaque on it. Even better, turn it into an ice cream / coffee / bicycle repair shop. A different approach needs to happen. I know this site has been under conflict for decades and demolition is the easy way out. You need to work together. Preserve our history, preserve our community.

By 3rd Generation New Castleite on 06/10/2011 at 9:24 am

It is difficult to comprehend why Mr. Rotta, owner of the little train station, refuses to show his appreciation to an entire community that fought so hard to save his rental income property from emminent domain!  Many of us spent endless time and personal funds to help his cause.  Let’s hope Mr. Rotta has a change of heart and refurbishes Millwood’s beloved little station house before this wonderful piece of history is lost forever.

By Please give back to the community! on 06/10/2011 at 9:49 am

We’ve lived in Millwood since 1968. If the present owner can’t correct the problems with the house then perhaps the residents of the town could contribute to fix the building instead of taking the easy way out and taking it down.
How pathetic that a great landmark will disappear.

By J Mellinger on 06/10/2011 at 10:32 am

Some of the posters really have it in for Mr. Rotta. Ask yourself this question: Would Mr. Rotta prefer to drive around in a 500 Black Mercedes / 740 BMW, or the silver two door truck that he does drive?

The income that Mr. Rotta looses on the inability to lease out the RR Station is equal to leasing out (3) 500 Black Mercedes.

Why would he find this acceptable? And, why do the posters believe that he finds it acceptable?

On a minimum scale of rent, Mr. Rotta has lost well over $144,000 over the past 15 years. Come on, do we all believe he is this stupid?

Whoever wants to help, don’t contact Rotta, because he probabbly can’t see straight he is so upset. Make contact with Gerry Fiaella at Town Hall.

By Oh Boy! on 06/10/2011 at 12:08 pm

Town Hall should invite Mr. Rotta into Town Hall to discuss his property.

Then we will get a chance to hear what is being said. We can evaluate, measure, and weigh, the topic at hand, and then arrive at an understanding and solution.

The golden rule here is there are two sides to every nickle.

Albeit, we have already heard his side for many years, and responded ! Now he gets to hear our side of the coin!

By Any Change ! on 06/10/2011 at 12:50 pm

What a shame. It’s such a charming little building, and an important part of the history of the town and the history of the former train line. It’d be a perfect spot for a drive-through coffee stand (a la the Pacific Northwest), and a snack shop would be a great asset for bikers on the North County Trailway.

Can’t it be designated a landmark, so it doesn’t get torn down?

By maggie christ on 06/10/2011 at 5:33 pm

I think it would be a good idea for Dr. Robert Herbin of the West End Group, and Mr. Thomas Curley, AIA who is, or was, the Vice President of the HOK Planning Group, and at one time, was the head of the urban design studio of SOM in New York, to jointly draft a letter of opinion addressed to the Town of New Castle as to how the issue with the Rail Road Station ought to be handled. Their suggestions based on past experiences and Community support of Mr. Rotta may prove to be very useful. Let’s give it a thumbs up try! 

By Help needed on 06/10/2011 at 6:51 pm

Yes, there are always two sides but to clarify that which “Oh Boy” states above,

1. Never for one minute did we think Mr. Rotta stupid.  The lease of his little station house is not what Mr. Rotta is after.  His development ideas for his property are of a far more grandiose scale.

2. Mr. Fiaella is retired from the Town of New Castle.

By To clarify on 06/10/2011 at 7:09 pm

          Mr. Rotta said that he is not aware of the building department providing him with notice as of June 10th. I ask that the Town protect us all from anyone taking it upon themselves to either enter or get close to this building. The building should be wrapped in a chain link fence and treated like an off limits construction site until such time that it is demolished, restored, or removed.

          Until such time, can someone post who are the responsible Town employees that are to oversee this matter, and can we get their Town issued E-mails? I am sure that a personal injury attorney would have an unfortunate field day representing a lawsuit against the Town if some young person was to be hurt.

          As for the traffic light, and intersection, it is better to admit to a mistake and bad design now, then cause the death of a motorist that we will have to pay for later. I agree, remove the traffic lights, and go back to the Stop signs.

                              your truly,

                              Emily Z.

Editor’s Note:  The traffic light and intersection of 133 and 120 are State DOT matters.

By Proper Notice on 06/10/2011 at 7:38 pm

Anybody who thinks that Mr. Rotta has even remotely tried to rent/lease or improve his site has not been following this story very closely over the last 10 years.  Mr. Rotta has no interest in improving his property and his “vision” for Millwood has always included a CVS, McDonalds and several other big box chains.  Mr. Rotta has always had the ability to improve the Train Station but is better off with it just falling down or being demolished.  Watch how fast he will be in front of the planning board with a proposal to develop that part of his property now that he will finally be rid of his self created eye sore

By NO WAY!! on 06/10/2011 at 8:22 pm

To all those folks who think a coffee, ice cream, snack shop would be a good idea for the station site. There are already two Millwood land marks the Country Deli and Rocky’s Deli that have been negatively impacted by the new Millwood market. Please think of something else to do with Mr. Rotta’s property.

By JASON FIELDS on 06/11/2011 at 4:50 pm

While we are on the subject of unsafe eye sores all interested parties should take a look behind the Millwood Hardware store.

That mess makes the old railroad station look like a tajmahal

By Jason Fields on 06/11/2011 at 4:54 pm

Is there any land on the new firehouse site that could keep this landmark in Millwod? If not, move it to Gedney Park or another location where it van be made safe and secure.

It should be preserved. I agree with the poster who said to put a fence around it and keep it standing until a solution to move it can be found.

By Steve Swirsky on 06/13/2011 at 6:56 am Fields comment…

Yes, we the winter, many of the residents in Pheasant Run get a clear view of the mess for 5 months of the year..

Why doesn’t the Building Inspector help with this ?

By Pheasant Run on 06/13/2011 at 7:24 am

Why not move it to Gedney,  where it could be preserved as a Landmark?  Not sure what could be done with it, but it is a thought.

By why not move it? on 06/13/2011 at 9:53 am

10 yrs ago the Government came knocking on Mr. Rotta’s door, they said they wanted his land. 10 yrs ago Mr. Rotta had to spend in excess of $250k to protect his property rights, and was distracted from taking care of business. Now the Government is knocking again on Mr. Rotta’s door saying you better do this or do that, or else. Perhaps Mr. Rotta will get the red carpet treatment to receive some sort of speedy approvals. It will take about $350k to fix up the Rail Road Station and improve the site; most of the money spent will be for Architects, Engineers, and Consultants. The process from start to finish will take anywhere from 9 months to however long it takes. The problem is, it’s not worth the trouble for Mr. Rotta to do anything. Mr. Rotta, better hurry and demolish the Rail Road Station, because no matter how you twist or turn, you are going to spend a lot of money in a direction that amounts to wasteful spending. I would just do it as fast as possible, and without notice to anyone! The Town already gave you the permit to do so by their notice; what are they going to do, take you to Court because you followed their advice. Rip it, tear it, demolish it, and disgard it as quickly as you can. If not, you will be spending your retirement money! Even if the Volunteer Firemen offer to paint your building, the Town will not be satisfied, and that much more of a problem will continue to exist for you. It takes about a good half day to demolish it, cart it away, and rake the area up.

By Understand ! on 06/13/2011 at 12:51 pm

Restore & replace roof $21k, Windows & doors $32k, remove interior $7k, install interior $25k, New Electric $11k, New plumbing $8k, New flooring $28, structural repairs $40k, landscaping $40k, interior reproductions $18k. Total due to restore this building, no less then $230,000.00 and this does not include all intellectual fees and filings. Amount of rent that can be received, $800 to $1100 per month. Now, if you were Mr. Rotta, who is close to 80 yrs old; would you invest your money into the Rail Road Station?

And $18,000. to repaint the building = $248,000

By Say Goodbye! on 06/13/2011 at 1:06 pm

I heard that a highly successful Coffee shop having other treats will be approaching the Town for approval to lease the Rail Road Station. Supposedly they are a huge publicly traded company that has the money to make this site look great and new. Let’s see if it happens, because Town approvals are needed; but who knows, maybe Mr. Rotta will not be held to such tough measures to get his approvals, as in the past. Lets all wish him luck and tell Town Hall to give quick approvals! The story is that the applicant wants a drive through window, and the current building is too close to the property line.

I plan to support the application and call for a quick approval, who else is with me?

By PB on 06/13/2011 at 1:32 pm

Do not spend taxpayers hard earned money on the Rail Road Station.

Tell Rotta to manage and spend his own money, solving his own problems!

Not interested in the building being moved, purchased, or maintained by the tax paying base.

Not interested in taking Mr. Rotta’s property from him.

Perhaps the only answer is to tear it down!

Nothing else makes sense, and we don’t need another place to buy COFFEE!

By No more MONEY! on 06/13/2011 at 1:42 pm

what coffee chain did you “hear” was “looking at” the space?  Just what we don’t need,  another Dunkin Donuts.  Probably not enough traffic for a Starbucks either.  Not to mention very limited parking. 

How about some good Chinese—- have a few tables and high quality food.  Now you have a destination and a community need fulfilled.

By why not move it on 06/13/2011 at 4:00 pm

If it were such a great spot for a coffee shop,  that publicly traded company would just tear down the station and build their own.  I say auction the station (not the land ) off to the highest bidder,  and if there are none.  RAZE it.

By Buy me or RAZE me on 06/13/2011 at 4:04 pm

The railroad station is quaint. I have no strong feelings. It is not a town monument and taxpayer money should not be wasted repairing or moving it. If the town doesn’t own the property there is no liability in case of injury. If residents of the town feel this is a good investment they could buy it from Mr. Rota.

By jel on 06/13/2011 at 4:43 pm

Did you say a new coffeehouse was coming, or a new firehouse?

By Here's your Coffee on 06/13/2011 at 5:14 pm

Dear Town Hall,

    I respectively request that you invite the owner of the Rail Road Station to appear before the Planning Board to discuss for the record the nature and scope of the violations that he received. I request that the record reflect his acknowledgment of being properly served such notice by the efforts coming from Town Hall, and that all responses on the subject matter be memorialized before the Public, and placed into the record.

    This is an important matter that must be handled as such, and with all proper steps and precautions being taken, since this matter is said to be ripe for a possible personal injury claim, that to date has not happened, but can occur. Please have the Town Attorney consult with a personal injury Law Firm, as a matter for the record, to establish the extent of Municipal Exposure since there now exist a spotlight of Public awareness placed on this very concern.

By Concerned resident on 06/13/2011 at 6:20 pm

Re/Millwood Hardware rear yard:

Certified letters from your condo. association to the Town of New Castle building dep’t with copies to Supervisor Barbara Gerrard might get the ball rolling.

Can’t believe the Town of New Castle has allowed this condition to

By Jason Fields on 06/14/2011 at 6:49 pm

The Town always treats Millwood as an afterthought.  This would never be allowed to happen if this was Chappaqua.  Do you ever hear of any real plan to upgrade the Hamlet Center?  Once in a while there is some lip service but nothing ever gets done.  Don’t forget that even when they try to do something like the stone wall on Station Place, they hired a cheap, incompetant contractor and the wall fell down.  Then they had no choice but to pay again for the wall to be done properly

Editor’s Note:  The contractor was never paid for the sub-par work; instead, the money earmarked for the wall work went to another contractor to repair/redo the wall. No additional money was spent.

By Why are you surprised? on 06/16/2011 at 1:15 pm

Why doesn’t the New Castle Historical Society landmark this structure? That is what it deserves. And/or let the town take it by eminent domain. Preserving historic landmarks (especially ones that are unique and small, ie, relatively inexpensive to preserve) is always a good move for property values, community engagement & more.

This is from the Department of Archeology & Historic Preservation:

“The cultural and historic resources of a community tell the story of its past and make any single community distinct from other places.  These resources provide tangible connections to the people and events that have shaped our communities and our collective histories.  Preserving the physical reminders of our past creates a sense of place and community pride.  Historic preservation also generates a wide range of economic benefits….  Economic benefits include those associated with the rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings and heritage tourism, as well as the impacts that historic designation has on neighborhood character and property values.”

How about a little long range vision here?

Long Time Millwood Resident

By Long Time MIllwood Resident on 06/16/2011 at 8:45 pm

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