By Buffy Calvert
The “developments” in Andes fit so seamlessly into the hills they scarcely seem like developments at all. Yet they are planned communities with names, and agreements among owners set down in their deeds and passed down to their heirs and assigns. Eric Wedemeyer, Owner and Principal Broker of Timberland Properties, cut his teeth on Tunis Lake, and went on to develop Woodland Hills, The Highlands, and Crescent Hill.
We talked on a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon on the patio of his spacious home in Horseshoe Valley looking over an artfully designed landscape. Paths from the broad terrace drop down to the pond side gazebo, circle the lower pond and wend along original stone walls into the woods. In the distance, the blue hills beckon.
Wedemeyer describes idyllic childhood summers on Dingle Hill which called him back to Andes as a young man with no assets but a deep love of the land and the people and a willingness to take risks. He vowed never to be ashamed of anything he developed. This set him on a course of openness and inclusion which sometimes led to trouble. But, persuasive diplomat that he is, he kept his vow, and his friends.
TUNIS LAKE: After an initial adventure in Colchester, he heard that there was land for sale at Tunis Lake, off Route 28 towards Delhi. He stood with the owner on a hill above that beautiful body of water and impulsively offered to buy all 600 acres. Fortunately he found a Long Islander willing to put up the money and asked Doug Woodin to survey the land with an aim to subdivide, sell off sites and preserve the lake.
Unlike later developments, Tunis included 91 lots whose owners would be shareholders in the common areas: a clubhouse, tennis courts, and lake privileges. The property would be overseen by a Property Owners’ Association. He secured permits from both Bovina and Andes and, as he would in every development, planned and installed roads and power lines.
WOODLAND HILLS: Next, Wedemeyer stepped in to complete a project someone else had started on the site of a family farm located on Route 28 north of the village. He points out, “It seems simple but there’s more to it than meets the eye.” He made a careful selection of each subdivision and went to the Andes Village Board, then chaired by Mayor Millie Johns, for approval. Wedemeyer successfully advocated that Andes adopt a zoning code to protect our small community from random commercial development at the hands of outsiders who might ruthlessly tear down or deface old buildings and destroy the historic integrity of the town and its landscape.
With other like-minded citizens, he founded the Andes Society for History and Culture and pushed for the designation of the village as a National Historic District. He appreciates especially the efforts of Anne Geiger, Jeanette Liddle and Jim Andrews.
He wrote into the deeds of Woodland Hills specifications as to lot and house size, title insurance, residential use only and no trailers. Unlike Tunis, there were neither common areas nor a homeowners’ association.
I spoke to current Woodland Hills resident Margie Adelson. She and Alex decided to move to the mountains from their home and businesses in Peekskill. They wanted to be equidistant from their 3 daughters who live in the Finger Lakes, Poughkeepsie and the city.
Alex grew up in the hills of Pennsylvania. Margie, a Brooklyn girl, remembered wonderful family vacations in New Kingston at the Smith Farm. When they came to Margaretville, they said, “Ahhh!” They were shown a house in Andes in Woodland Hills. The land was “perfectly wonderful!” They had a vision for the house which they have realized since moving here in 2005.
There are 11 houses in Woodland Hills, only 4 occupied full-time. It is not a close community but the Adelsons have invested themselves in the life in Andes as volunteers in many projects. They find our town exceptionally welcoming to newcomers.
Akira Odani is the third owner of his house in The Highlands. (The first moved to the south of France, the second accepted a job transfer to North Carolina.) Akira had spent a summer hiking in the Catskills. Suddenly he realized that there was nothing to stop him from leaving Westchester to live full time in these beautiful hills. He picked up a Real Estate magazine. The next week he chose his house in The Highlands, closed in October and, in December, moved in. He loves the privacy and the view. He can work from home. Before he began to teach at SUNY Delhi, he played an active role in Andes, notably on the ASHC Board of Directors. He hopes to do so again when he retires. For now he gets together with some other guys in the Highlands and the wider neighborhood for cards once a month.
He and his wife, Ruth, love the clear air, the quiet, and friendly neighbors, although most of the 7 other houses are occupied by weekenders.
CRESCENT HILL, on Palmer Hill, is Eric’s latest Andes development. Here, he bought from partners who had bought the Ackerley farm. He wanted to design a high end community, each lot on its own dead-end driveway for privacy, linked by a common central street. The lots include ponds, fields and woods.
Linda and Peter Lederman had spent vacations with their children in Delaware County, skiing and swimming, enjoying the countryside. As they neared retirement they decided to buy a house in this area they had come to love. They fell in love with the site of a house on Crescent Hill, the pond, the view over the hills. After 2 years of negotiation, they bought their dream. Like so many others on Crescent Hill, they have become full-time residents. Both are active in the wider community. Peter plays with the Tremperskill Boys Band and tutors at ACS, writes an occasional article for this publication; Linda, a librarian by profession, volunteers and serves on the Board of the Andes Public Library. Both are enthusiastic pickleball players.
Crescent Hill came together as a community when they feared that a house would be sold at auction to a dog kennel owner. They claimed the clause in their covenant that restricted property use to residential and scotched that threat. All the neighbors walk the road, drop zucchini on each other’s porches, stop over with a pot of hot soup. Like a friendly block. ~