By Judy Garrison
Dorothy McArdle’s connection with Tunis Lake goes way back to 1975, when Eric Wedemeyer offered her husband, Jim, a job as resident manager of the Lake. Jim was a friend of Eric and often came up to visit. Eric said he’d provide them with a nice refurbished apartment in town, but Jim wanted to live in the guest house right at the lake for what they expected to be just a summer. They rented from the developers for 5 years, watching the division of the property in stages, the surveying, the construction of roads, and then purchased the house in 1981. Dorothy and Jim met in Jim’s Oneonta deli where she worked part-time while a college student, when she was 19 and he was 23. They are still happy in the now re-configured and improved house, where they raised their daughter, Krista. They celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary on August 18th.
Dorothy was one of the founding members of the Tunis Lake Property Owners’ Association, and is still on the 9-member board today, the unofficial Tunis historian. She got her real estate license in 1977 and over the years has sold a lot of Tunis properties, first with Timberland and then as owner of Apple Tree Realty.
The Tunis Lake development of 600+ acres, almost a square mile, is mostly in the Town of Bovina, but also partly in Andes, and is unique in our area. It was part of the developers’ concept to institute aesthetic land planning here. Bovina was one of the first towns in the county to require that new roads be built to town specifications and deeded to the town. So though the section of road traversing the lake area is kept and maintained by the association, all of the other roads are maintained by the towns. Each lot has a minimum of 5 acres (many owners have assembled 2 or more lots), the lots are restricted against further subdivision with required setbacks and minimum square footage. These deed restrictions have created an area of gracious homes, most with privacy, many with distant views, a few with ponds. Today mature trees and landscaping further enhance the properties. There are now 55 homes built (one is presently under construction), and of the original 92 land parcels 37 are unimproved. The lake area of approximately 68 acres, which includes the mostly spring-fed 9’ deep lake stocked with trout, bass, and, of late, perch, was designed to be a common area of green space with no houses (except the McArdle’s ). The rec hall provides ping pong, table games, and a book swap, and is available to members for parties and events. There are two tennis courts, a basketball court, docks and floats on the lake, and a parking area with boat racks (there is no motor boating permitted) on the north side of the lake, and a carriage barn which pre-dates the various incarnations of Tunis Lake camps which operated from 1919 to 1970. This older building harks back to Doig Farms. In the winter, residents cross country ski and snowshoe around the lake. The elevation is as high as 2,600 feet above sea level and painted turtles, deer, bobcat and bear have all been recently sighted.
Many owners have made long-term friends at the Lake, and those who want to get to know their neighbors can join in the festivities during the annual July 4th weekend get-together: an association meeting and chicken barbecue, with activities that can include an egg toss, tug of war, and a canoe regatta.
When Dorothy was a student at SUCO she explored documents in The New York State Room, and found an old map with a dot indicating “where the Indian Tunis lives.” I like to think that even though Andes and Bovina were not generally settled by Indians, the legend of Chief Tunis, and maybe his spirit, survives.~