The fight to keep Dragon Inn standing

(Photo by Robert Ford)

(Photo by Robert Ford)

The race is on.

The village Historic Review Board decided today to redesignate Clovelea (the Dragon Inn) a historic landmark after the village attorney said the original 2007 designation would not hold up in court. At the same time, the owner of the property is requesting a demolition permit.

In any event, the issue seems sure to end up in the courts.

“We will all hang together,” said Richard Frisbie, chair of the village Historic Review Board, paraphrasing a quote by Benjamin Franklin.


The quote came after three of the board’s four members voted to seek historic designation. Frisbie cast the deciding vote, with David Minch and Michael Fanelli also voting in favor and Brian Wilson voting against.

All attendees at a public hearing on the demolition question expressed opposition. The board closed the public hearing and will have five days to come to a decision on the demolition, which it is of course expected to deny. Owner Ching Ya Wu will then be able to appeal to the Village Board, which will have 30 days to decide the matter.

The option to appeal to the Village Board was always possible, regardless of historic designation status. The review board will need to hold another properly advertised public hearing and process the required paper work for designation. If can do this before the owner can prepare a demolition permit, which must include plans to abate asbestos or lead paint that might be in the building, it will strengthen its case. If not, building inspector Eyal Saad will grant the permit.

What it all means, one village official said, is “it will end up in court with the village having to bear the costs.”

There are 12 comments

  1. Derek

    This is so ridiculous.

    It’s Ching Ya Wu’s property. It’s been destroyed by fire and then years of exposure to the elements. If the Historic Review Board wants it restored it to its glory, it should be forced to pay China Ya Wu whatever his net “fair market value” would be after razing the building to the ground and selling the bare property, and then let the H.R.B. bear the financial burden of trying to sort out what to do with the eyesore that’s been sitting there for 20 years.

    But to limit the property-owner’s options in this fashion is just absurd, nanny-state, garbage.

  2. Tricia Patterson

    I am personally glad to hear this – I feel that there are not enough properties such as Clovelea left & it’s important to preserve that part of our heritage. Yes, it’s an eyesore at this point & needs alot of work. But it could be a fantastic asset & to just disregard that because it would be more cost efficent to bulldoze is ridiculous. We pay taxes here, LOTS of taxes…..would love to see some of that go into a tangible project and if that’s whats needed to save the building, I’m good with that. The Mill had been an eyesore for years as well, it’s now a thriving Senior Apt building – providing a much needed service to our elder population.

    1. Derek

      Tricia – if you feel it should be restored instead of bulldozed, then collect enough of your like-minded friends together to reimburse the owner for what he could make if he bulldozed it, and then do it yourself.

      But for a bunch of folks to sit on the sidelines and insist that they’ve got some moral authority to tell the owner what he must do with his own property is absurd.

  3. K. Hutek

    Advocating for the preservation of our vanishing landmarks and architectural and natural treasures is not absurd. Would you have told Scenic Hudson and company to not advocate for the preservation of Storm King when Con Ed wanted to blow half of it up to build a power plant? Or would you have said “It is Con Ed’s property, they can do whatever they want.” it is because of these elements that we find our communities so desirable and unique. If Mr. Wu is so interested in that property I am sure that he could incorporate the house into his new restaurant, and in fact it would make it an attraction. The house is far from “destroyed.”

    1. Derek

      I would have said “it’s their property, they can do what they like with it”. If you want to control the property, buy the property from its owner for its fair market value (assuming they’re willing to sell).

      There is nothing “desirable” about the building in its current state. If there was, it’d be sold by now. If the property has a higher value without the burned-out husk of a building on it, than it does with one, then absolutely he should have the right to tear it down and sell it.

  4. Brian Shaughnessy

    I think it’s high time something happens one way or another. It’s been a blatent eyesore for over 20 years – including it’s time as the Dragon.

    If the present owner had any intention of fixing it, he would have done so by now. It’s been exposed and open and I can only imagine what structural repairs are required to renovate the structure itself.

    I don’t wonder why the property has never been purchased with the ridiculous asking price associated with it but I imagine that has more to do with the land itself.

    What possible uses for the building are there? Probably the only sustainable one is as a bed and breakfast but that would still require a massive investment. Other than that what? A museum of sorts? I hardly think Saugerties can finance or support it.

    If there are those that cannot bear to see the structure demolished, the time has come to put up or shut up. Organize and open your wallets.

  5. Scott

    This has nothing to do with the structure being undesirable and has everything to do with “fair market price”. It comes down to one fundamental problem. The public records contain a bank appraisal, initiated by the owner in 2007, prior the downturn of the market, and appraised the property at $250K. If the owner for once had offered the building at the “fair market value” we wouldn’t be having the discussion.

    We know that there have been parties interested but not at the million+ price tag (see MLS #/Web ID: 20091503). It has never been offered below 4X the real “fair market value”.

    Yes, yes, every owner should be able be do whatever they want with their property. Who needs zoning laws, planning and preservation, and who cares what effect changes to one property have on anyone else’s property. Anyone should be able to mow down a forest , put a Walmart next to your house, or tier down a historic lighthouse. If everyone is allowed to do whatever they want with any property I’m sure it will all work out fine over time.

    Excuse my sarcasm, but just letting any owner do what they want is such a nonsensical, simplistic answer to a array of important and complex problems. Whether we are talking about protecting the natural resources of the area, creating an effective center for business, preserving the community’s history, or creating a well organized, distinctive town image to attach tourism, they all require a thoughtful, balanced approach in order to create a livable, productive community.

    1. Derek

      You don’t have some “moral right” to control how other people utilize their property. If you don’t like your neighbor selling out to (as you suggest) Wal-Mart, you’re welcome to sell your property and move. If you want the historic lighthouse saved, raise the funds and buy it yourself.

      Your personal property value is YOUR concern, not your neighbor’s.

  6. Scott

    com·mu·ni·ty noun, often attributive kə-ˈmyü-nə-tē
    plural com·mu·ni·ties

    Websters Definition of COMMUNITY

    1: a unified body of individuals: as
    a : state, commonwealth
    b : the people with common interests living in a particular area; broadly : the area itself
    c : an interacting population of various kinds of individuals in a common location
    d : a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society
    e : a group linked by a common policy
    f : a body of persons or nations having a common history or common social, economic, and political interests
    g : a body of persons of common and especially professional interests scattered through a larger society

    Why is it that the default position is always that of being repressed and never that of taking responsibility? Are we not teaching our kids right today? We have to accept that there will always be people who just don’t give a damn about the community, anyone in it, or trying to make it better. That doesn’t mean that we have to let them destroy it and it’s our responsibility to fight for those things we find of common value. We’re not living in caves any longer, it’s calls society. This is a great conversation but let’s get beyond my kid’s argument that “it’s my toy and you can’t play it”.

    Preservation is one of many complex problems that a community can choose to wrestle with if it believes it’s important to it’s people and economic future. Deciding that there is sufficient value in protecting common resources such as park land, historic structures, water ways, access corridors, etc. and choosing to protect them for the benefit of all, is not an easy job. Saugerties is a community that takes pride in it’s history and is benefiting from the character that it creates. What is being decided is whether this neighborhood and this property is important enough to merit protection. And I absolutely agree with you, if the owner doesn’t like being in a historic neighborhood, he should sell it and move on.

    1. Derek

      So their private property is now borged into some “common resource” simply because you think it’s a neat building?

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