While preservationists still hold out hope for a buyer who will restore the Dragon Inn to its Gilded Age glory, in the near term, the broken down structure has become an unsafe playground for neighborhood children.
The village wants owner Ching Ya Wu to board the place up and put up a fence.
Last winter was tough on the old home, built in 1883 by Saugerties industrialist W.R. Sheffield. The unfinished addition’s roof collapsed under the weight of snow, and elsewhere, wear and tear from the elements made it still easier for trespassers to gain access.
Not all the visitors to the structure are human. Police officers who have answered break-in complaints have said a large turkey buzzard lives somewhere in the upper floors. Others have speculated it might be a bear. Building Inspector Eyal Saad said he didn’t go looking for whatever it is that’s living in the building.
“I didn’t see anything,” Saad said.
Perhaps the old inn is really the summer home of Big Foot? Saad laughed when asked that question.
“It’s really a dangerous condition for these kids,” Saad said.
Village Mayor William Murphy had Police Chief Joseph Sinagra send Wu a letter asking him to comply with the request to fence off the property and board up the building, and informed him if anyone is hurt he would be liable.
Murphy said if Wu doesn’t comply, the village would do the work itself, and tack the expense onto Wu’s tax bill. The mayor noted that Wu owes over $20,000 in back taxes dating back to 2008, so the village may not recoup expenses for work done at the site in a timely fashion. Murphy added that if the county agreed to collect back taxes for villages, as it does with towns, this would not be a problem.
Murphy and Saad said they will wait to see how Wu responds to the chief’s letter and, in the meantime, they hope no one is hurt.