By John Gregg
Take a stroll into Ballantine Park. It’s right across the road from the Andes Post Office. Pay attention to the sinuous, frisky stream, the Tremperskill, that twists its way along the western edge. It deserves your respect.
In times past it was a stretch of running water that did real work, pushing paddle wheels powering as many as nine mills situated through the Village of Andes: saw mills, grist mills, and even a hammer mill, it is reported.
The Dowie flour mill was among them. Remnants of its stacked stone ramparts can still be seen at the lower end of the park. The mill was demolished by a devastating flood in 1854. The Tremperskill has a history of such occasional rampant violence. We’ve seen it in recent times, coursing through the village in a wrecking torrent, launching mammoth logs downstream, loosing massive slabs of stone off its banks as if with a muscular shrug, and catapulting them into its rush.
But the park generally offers a more tranquil setting with its mowed grounds, numerous recent plantings, a wending creek crossed by diminutive footbridges, and stone sculpture installations. (We’re hoping to replace the dilapidated benches soon.) You may see the great blue heron that frequently traverses the park, gliding gracefully over the stream with its wide wingspan, tilting so low you might think it in danger of snagging itself on an overhanging branch. Or you might come upon the covey of mallard ducks that favor the pond below the old mill site, startling them into sudden, noisy flight, leaving a nest of eggs behind, which you see partially concealed under a canopy of bending reeds, and hope they won’t forget to return to.
The two and three quarter acre park is a treasure in the community, there for us all to enjoy. Formerly a derelict marsh of black willows and scrub brush, it is the creation of landscape artist George Ballantine, the previous owner of the property.
The purchase of the park by the Town of Andes was facilitated by Supervisor Martin Donnelly and the Andes Town Board, with funds obtained through Senator John Bonacic, and a grant from the Environmental Protection Fund of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
Its ongoing maintenance, however, has not been provided for through grants or other outside funding (nor is there an appropriation for it in the Town budget). To cover the modest requirements of its upkeep, an account has been established at the National Bank of Delaware County, Andes Branch. Donations are invited and would be most welcome. Anyone wishing to participate in the support of the park in this way should please send a contribution to “Friends of Ballantine Park” c/o John Gregg, P.O. Box 266, Andes, NY 13731
Those who might be interested in joining a group involved in the occasional small tasks having to do with keeping the park spruced up: minor pruning, gathering of dead fallen twigs and such, please contact John Gregg at the above address or through e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). ~