“As long as I am mayor, there will be no low-income housing at the site of the Dragon Inn,” Mayor William Murphy declared at the Feb. 4 village trustees meeting.
At the Jan. 30 Historic Review Board meeting held to hear a proposal regarding possible demolition of the structure from a representative of Ching Ya Wu, owner of the former Chinese restaurant once housed on the site (and also the former home of William R. Sheffield), a number of residents voiced fears that low-income rental units would be built in its place (though no such plan had been suggested).
Murphy responded to these concerns by saying, “If you are against tearing it down because you don’t want low-income housing, you can be sure it won’t happen. We are going to make sure that doesn’t go there.”
He added that the property is in an R-3 zone, which allows row homes and town homes, but not low-income housing.
“The Dragon Inn is not zoned for it and we will not allow it,” Murphy said.
Alex Wade, who was the village building inspector when the Dragon Inn burned down in the early 1990s, and is now in charge of special projects for the village, told trustees that when Woodstock ’94 was being planned several years after the fire, he had the building inspected by a structural engineer, and it was found sound. Wade said that he allowed Wu to “clean it up” in time for a partial re-opening to serve concert-goers. Since then, the building has been left “unsecured” and has been repeatedly vandalized, said Wade.
He added that he will be preparing a “detailed chronology of the events since the fire” to present at the next Historic Review Board meeting, to be held in the firehouse adjacent to Village Hall on Partition St. Wednesday, Feb. 27 at 6 p.m.
The decision to allow the structure to be demolished or left as is in the hopes that Wu, who is actively seeking a buyer for the property, will find someone who will be willing to restore it might come back to the trustees. Should the review board decide to deny that request, Wu could then appeal the matter to the trustees.
Wu’s representative Don Snyder argued at the Jan. 30 Historic Review Board meeting that the only way Wu will be able to sell the 3.9-acre parcel would be if the building is demolished.