By Buffy Calvert

When I have finally convinced Ann Roberti to be interviewed for a We Applaud piece in the Gazette, in typical over-the-top fashion, she shows up at the door with chocolate croissants and giant strawberries to share.

Ann grew up on Long Island and lived in Queens while taking night classes at Pace University and working for NBC at Rockefeller Center.  From her office she could look down at the famous giant Christmas tree.

Visiting a friend upstate in 1985, Ann fell in love with Andes and bought a large lot on Upper Dingle Hill stretching up the mountain and steeply downhill. She built her house so she could see Balsam Mountain with its fire tower on Balsam Lake from her deck. She hired a contractor to build the shell and worked with her partner to complete the interior.

She left NBC to work for Outsource Construction, a firm that helps city dwellers negotiate and complete the permitting process of construction projects and repairs. She has been able to do this from Dingle Hill! And is excited by her plans to retire in April. Since Ann is the most eager and active volunteer imaginable, Andes should be excited too.

Up on the hill with a full-time job and a garden to plant (for a while she used the community garden plots on the school grounds), she discovered and joined the Catskill Mountain Club for kayaking and hiking, especially great after the DEP (NYC Department of Environmental Protection) allowed these sports on their land.

With the club, she volunteered to organize an Andes Rail Trail on the old train tracks starting at the Depot. The first challenge was getting permission from private owners along the route. This took some doing, but she and her fellow hikers managed it. Then they cleared the trail, installed a sign-in booth and organized a crew to maintain it.  Beautiful, easy walk, accessible to the Hamlet, immediately popular.

What about a steeper climb above the Pepacton Reservoir? Shavertown Trail. Done! And one overlooking the breathtaking view from the top of Palmer Hill? Done! The last two were on DEP property. Ann has found DEP a pleasure to work with.

Deploring the trash that accumulates on our highways, Ann and Nancy McShane have organized an Annual Litter Pick-Up, in April near Earth Day. They advertise in the Gazette and other local papers for volunteers to come out on a designated weekend or weekday (with rain dates, of course).  People turn up, don bright vests, grab trash bags and set out in teams to collect unsightly objects hurled from cars or fallen from pickup trucks. The verdict? “Surprisingly fun!”

Enough activity for someone with a full-time job who lives off the beaten track? How about volunteering to organize the parade on Community Day? With friends like Maria Ditchek and Mary Davis, a pleasure. Not every year but available when needed.

Since Ann has not only established a rock garden on the upward slope behind her house and “gardened” a long stretch below the house with native plants dug from her property culminating in a raised-bed vegetable garden (not quite so far as the community beds in the village), we beg her to be on the Library Garden Tour. She agrees. And sets up the next Sunday for all the Tour Hosts to view each other’s gardens.

In 2017, working on a Hiking Trail up Bramley Mountain on the Delhi-Bovina border, she starts thinking of the old fire tower that was decommissioned in 1970. Pete Clark bought it for $50 and carefully stored it. His son is now eager to donate it, so it could be reinstalled as a tourist attraction on its original site.  Other towers like Balsam Lake, Hunter and Utsayantha are very popular. Ann takes on the challenge.

She and her committee got DEP approval and support. They are working with the County Board of Supervisors Economic Development Committee.

Delaware County will be the lessee. Mr. Clark will lease the tower to it for 99 years, renewable.   Friends of Bramley Mountain Fire Tower will maintain it. Initially the tower needed to be restored. This has been done. Now it needs to be installed. DEP (“Such great partners!” says Ann) has been making a parking lot and clearing the old logging road in preparation. Hopefully, June will see the installation and in July the volunteer Stewards

will escort the first tourists in 54 years up to enjoy the view.

Volunteer Stewards are being recruited. Although almost all the money is in hand, donations are still needed. The Livestock Foundation of Bovina will make a $5,000 donation if matched by donations from the public. To donate or volunteer, email: https:// bramleymountainfiretower.org. To see the construction of a fire tower, go to “YouTube – Makomis Fire Tower.”

Ann in retirement? She already is eager to volunteer at Rosemary Farm Horse Sanctuary in South Kortright, a “wonderful place with 100 horses and mules.”  Last week in our first real snow, she packed up her cross country skis and sped around the Delhi track 10 times. We would still applaud her if she were to sit by the fire eating croissants and strawberries. She’s earned it! But I’m sure she won’t.~

Ann Roberti with Nigel and model tower