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The Home Guru: How Lucky We Are To Live Here!

Do you like living in the Hudson Valley? It's no wonder, considering our natural and cultural resources. Do you take advantage of as many of them as you can? And do you know how lucky we are?

In real estate, when we talk about location, normally we are referring to the town, neighborhood, and street address of a property. We should also consider how the natural and cultural resources of our region influence and enhance our lifestyles, not to mention the value of our homes. 

It is my opinion that the reach of Patch.com in our region, offers the most beautiful landscapes and some of the most wonderful services and cultural opportunities to be found anywhere in the country. 

And we're really lucky to have them.

This is a somewhat arbitrary, even personally biased, list of attractions and activities which I feel make our regional location exceptional. It is far from complete – space would not allow it - but it can serve as a starter kit for bragging points about the benefits of living here when we consider selling our homes, or just as a gratitude list for the simple pleasures we have available to us on a day-to-day basis.

With the exceptions of Alaska and North and South Dakota, my second career as a public relations practitioner has taken me to all the states, and nowhere have I found natural beauty that surpasses the majesty of our region, from the Hudson River, our mountainous topography, the lakes, streams and reservoirs, to the many historic vestiges and preservations of lifetimes before us.

Whenever I’m introducing new real estate clients to the region from the city or another part of the country, I like to have them in my car, rather than following me in their cars, so that I can extol the wonders of these two counties, particularly the areas in which I specialize.  In upper Westchester, one of my favorite areas to point out is the Croton Reservoir Bridge on the Taconic. While crossing the bridge, with the great views of water and imposing, wooded mountains, I always say, “Couldn’t you mistake this for Vermont?  And here you are, less than an hour from New York City!”

Sure, we have our share of problems projecting the human condition, and a healthy dose of property taxes, but the aesthetic, recreational and cultural opportunities here ameliorate the bitter with the sweet a hundred fold. 

We nearly have it all, and anything lacking can be secured readily through our close proximity to New York City on one end of the living spectrum and more remote countryside on the other.  For business commuting we are situated favorably to the major airports and reliable train lines, as well as beautiful parkways. 

Consider our abundance of open space, protected zealously by both Westchester and Putnam through its parks like Ward Pound Ridge Reservation in Cross River, land on which the legendary 19th century Leatherman traveled, the Rockefeller State Preserve in Tarrytown, of particular interest to birders and anglers, and the rugged 15,000 acres of Fahnestock Park in Putnam.

We are also beneficiaries of the engineering feats of building reservoirs, the Croton Dam and the Aqueduct, all responsible for great water views and additional, undisturbed space.

We have facilities for swimming in the summer and cross-country skiing and skating in the winter. There are many trails for hikers and bikers, crowned by the recently installed North County Trailway, constructed on the former route of the old Putnam railroad line and stretching from Eastview up to the Putnam border. Another long stretch of walking and biking is offered by the Old Croton Aqueduct Trailway, with some sections suitable for horseback riding. 

Golf enthusiasts tell me that our courses, both public and private, both cheap and very expensive (courtesy of Mr. Trump) are among the best. Speaking of Mr. Trump, while I resent having to read announcements on larger-than-needed signs on the Taconic, I do appreciate his donation of 436 acres straddling the two counties, formerly planned for development, as passive parkland.

Our preserved farmlands, such as Tilly Foster Farm in Brewster and Hilltop Hanover Farm in Yorktown Heights, provide still more open space and offer education about the way our ancestors toiled for a living.

There is history at every turn, with new discoveries being made all the time. Most recently, an ancient Indian site for dumping oyster shells, thousands of years old, was discovered off Charles Point in Peekskill. And when I was hiking the Appalachian Trail in upper Putnam Valley, I found the remains of old churches and homes from a lost community built for our former iron ore industry, which supported the North’s effort in the Civil War.    

The stone walls rambling all over both counties, built for the practical measures of clearing the land for farming and containing livestock, fascinate me.  The stone chambers are among Putnam County’s greatest mysteries. Were they simply root cellars for farmers, or, aligned with equinox and solstice sunrises, are they really ancient Druid temples, built thousands of years ago?  No one knows for sure.

 There are truly unique recreational activities such as that afforded by the Art Deco gem, Playland, in Rye, and, on the other side of Westchester, the Hudson River towns offer many activities from river cruises to historic attractions maintained by Historic Hudson Valley.

For entertainment, we have the Westchester Broadway Theatre in Elmsford, with productions as good as anything on the Great White Way, the Emelin in Mamaroneck, and truly unique resources like the Jacob Burns Center in Pleasantville, the Performing Arts Center at SUNY Purchase, and the summer Shakespeare program at Boscobel in Garrison. 

It broke my heart to learn that the Paramount Center, that restored, gorgeous art deco palace from1930 suspended operations last week. But,  I do hope that there is a way that it can be re-structured and returned to us. 

There seem to be more museums and art galleries, both private and those offered by the counties, than any other suburban region.  Venues to enjoy music range from jazz in restaurants and cafes to the magnificent Caramoor Center for Music and Arts, just down the road in Bedford from Martha Stewart’s spread. And speaking of Martha Stewart, the doyenne of gracious living, why do you think she chose to live in our midst?

Culinary geniuses such as Peter Kelly and Dan Barber ply their art in our midst, and adventuresome restaurants with new ideas, such as 12 Grapes in Peekskill and Cafe of Love in Mt. Kisco, vie for our attention along with great bastions of gustatory excellence, such as the Crabtree Kittle House in Chappaqua, frequented by a former President and current Secretary of State, Equus at The Castle in Tarrytown, and Thyme in Yorktown, among many others.

What I like best about our region is the diversity of people and housing opportunities in our cities, towns and villages. Distinctive small cottages and sprawling mansions can be found in the same communities as capes, raised ranches and split levels, nicely tucked in together, each vying for its own unique value proposition. And, if things get a little too tight, we are surrounded by a great wealth of facilities to stretch out, both physically, aesthetically and intellectually.   

If you know anyone in the city looking for a lifestyle change without giving up the excitement of the Big Apple, tell them about our nearby regional paradise on earth. Either I or any of my capable Realtor® associates will be happy to provide an annotated tour.

Bill Primavera is a residential and commercial realtor associated with Coldwell Banker and serving Westchester and Putnam Counties. He is also a columnist writing weekly as The Home Guru. For anyone seeking real estate advise or who wishes to buy or sell a home, he can be reached at bill@PrimaveraRealEstate.com or called directly at 914-522-2076.  

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

William Primavera October 06, 2012 at 12:24 PM
Jonathan, thank you for reminding me about those situations where public sentiment and advocacy have stood guard for future generations. You are always such a gentleman, even in the most intense situations, and I would love to meet and talk with you again, soon.
Your Neighbor Jennie October 06, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Bill, I'm glad that you feel as I do about how special our part of the Country is. I grew up in South Florida and watched so many lovely vacant fields slowly morph into strip malls...that are now broken and empty (blight). It's amazing how once a developer gets to do what he wants to do, makes his profit and than leaves...how the rest of us are left to pick up the pieces...or left to decide to leave and live somewhere else. That's why I love Yorktown so much. While some development decisions weren't always wise in the past. It is still a rather unspoiled place. A place, that if we make the right decisions going forward, it will remain the vibrant, peaceful, beautiful and historical place that it is.
Diane Callahan October 08, 2012 at 02:45 PM
I'm originally from Chicago (where they have "forest preserves"), and the Hudson Valley is similar to the kinds of places we would go for summer vacation. So when I moved here I really felt I was living in my "vacation spot" all year long. This is such a beautiful place to live!
William Primavera October 08, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Yes, Diane, I feel the very same way, having moved here from New York City. It is so wonderful now to get to these destinations without having to rent a car and drive through traffic to get here. However, when I first moved to the City, I liked to fashion myself a man-about-town and vowed that I'd never move to the country where my boss lived. I was invited to spend a weekend with him and his family in Katonah and at the time, from my urban perspective, I thought that I would perish before Monday morning rolled around and we drove into work together. But life has a strange way ot playing tricks. I got a great job to market the Culinary Institute of America when it first moved to Hyde Park and it was impractical for me to commute from the city. But by this time, I was married with a child, and I thought I could grin and bear it until my child graduated from high school when I had every intention to move right back to the city. Instead, my foot got stuck in the door, and I don't think there is any way I could do that now. In fact, not so long ago, I was offered another job in the heart of Times Square, and it was a great opportunity, but I had to turn it down. It just didn't fit into my lifestyle today to commute into the City on a daily basis. So here I am, a unwitting country bumpkin, but loving it.
Your Neighbor Jennie October 08, 2012 at 08:33 PM
That's why it is very important NOT to let COSTCO come to Yorktown. If it comes, it will be the beginning of many more BIG BOX stores on 202, horrific traffic, economic stress on our merchants and the end of this beautiful way of life you are talking about Mr. Primavera. For more information and to see how you can fight this project, go to: www.NoCostco.com It is NOT right for Yorktown and NOT a done deal. FYI: The Public comment period for this project is NOW. The Yorktown Planning Board is reviewing this project and would love to hear from you about it at this time.

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