Working on a coCamping project ADK A.C.R.E.S. while planning for future cohousing.
From: Bob Goodrich (SoutheasternADKaol.com)
Date: Sun, 2 Aug 2009 07:02:49 -0700 (PDT)
Excuse me if this is a little long for my first posting on the listserv. I
am not used to using this form of communication, and I am trying to learn.

 

What I am currently calling "ADK A.C.R.E.S." (Agro-forestry, Camping,
Recreation, Etc., Stewardship). I am forming a coCamping project at my
"Diamond in the Rough", while I learn more about how to move forward with my
cohousing dreams. To start out it even be considered a "retrofit" cohousing
project due to the existing infrastructure and existing sites along the
7/10th mile town road that cuts through the southern end of the 197 acre
property. So as I work on my mid-life "What am I going to really do with my
life?". I am leaning towards the design of an elder or senior cohousing
project, not far from an open to all cohousing development.

 

As I already have the land, even though I am just in my beginning stages of
learning about cohousing, ecovillages, and the like, I would like to come up
with some possibilities, that will be open to change as more members come
onboard. But I would like to set some basic ground rules that I believe
should serve residents well no matter where we go from here. We might not be
able to afford some super insulated or high tech buildings, but planning in
advance in all communities for maximum accessible building, I believe the
phrase is "universal design", as well as thinking about aging in place, no
matter what the age of the intended resident, as things change in our lives
no matter what our age, and it makes no sense to have to move just because
some fairly simple design items for accessibility were not included in the
initial design. (a renovation is like a do-over, if we plan things right,
simple inexpensive changes allow anyone to stay in their place, or allow
other people with different needs to move in). 

 

This awesome property in the Southeastern Corner of the Adirondacks,
overlooking Southern Lake Champlain on Ottenburgh Rd Clemons, NY 12819. East
of the Lake George northern basin, we are on the "Quiet side of Lake George"
with 197 acres between Route 22, and the Canadian Pacific railroad(formerly
D&H) that runs along much of the coast of Lake Champlain in the area. (Route
22 is also known as "The Lakes to Locks Passage", an American Scenic By-way,
as well as NY bike path 9. As a bonus there is a smaller parcel on the east
side of the railroad crossing that includes a private boat launch
"Ottenburgh's Ramp". Although small it is already shown as multi-unit
residential on the tax paperwork. Who knows we might have more than one
"common house" with the smaller common house being on the waterfront in the
footprint of the existing small wooden cottages on the about 400 ft
waterfront. Whether you are looking to go out onto the water for a short
boat ride, or desire to cruise the world, you truly can get there from here.
We are only a little more than 8 miles north of Whitehall's Lock 12, that
can bring you to the Hudson River, and beyond to the Atlantic. There are
also a couple of ways to make it to the Great Lakes, and the Great Loop that
includes the Mississippi and other inter-coastal waterways. Only yesterday I
learned about floating Park Models that are available. So I am now thinking
of how I may incorporate them into my plan for the waterfront area. Now the
song "Redneck yacht club" that talks about "Bob, he's our President" keeps
going through my head.

 

With the land already purchased. I am offering fully refundable capital
buy-in's designed to simply cover the expenses above and beyond the
mortgage, such as the taxes, insurance, utilities, etc.

Over the next month or so this could start out with three people at $10,000
each, or ten people at $2500.00 each. Provided I had commitments, I could
even break it down, as long as enough money is raised to cover some
immediate important expenses. Once membership reaches a certain point a
finance committee will be established to account for, and report expenses,
including financing options for future capital improvements. Although
initially offering funds to be fully refundable, repayment will not be
instant. The finance committee would decide how/when refunds are possible,
subject to being able to find new members to buy-in or the memberships
ability to make payments out to someone that has decided that our project
isn't for them. (the owner/also a member will guarantee payment, just not
the when/how of the payment, in the even the membership is unable to repay a
requested refund. Additionally some profit sharing options are also
available as plans are made to compete long overdue "routine maintenance" to
existing infrastructure, and sites allowing the membership more options on
the usage of the property without a big review process, that will be
required for new development on the property.  Although finances will be
separate for members, there may be some options for investment, that may
result in future profit sharing.  There are three drilled wells, a number of
septic systems, and about 35 sites  along the 7/10th mile road that cuts
through the southern end of the property. might even be considered a
retrofit cohousing project in the beginning. But with 197 acres, even with
much of it rugged, there should be plenty of room for future development. I
believe the planning chart calls this area high density residential along
this road.

 

Although my objective is to form a community that works and plays together,
I am open to offering some remote sites on the property that would like to
enjoy some time at a secluded retreat. There will be options for people to
assist in mapping out the property, and in the process stumble on some
future retreat areas where someone may bring in, or build a Tiny House, or
Cottage, along with a raised bed garden, as part of our agro-forestry
project. I am considering options for people that have completed a
VermontTinyHouses.com workshop with Peter King, to learn basic construction
skills. I plan to offer some Adirondack Tiny Houses workshops, in
partnership with VermontTinyHouses.com to not only teach basic construction
skills, but to offering the opportunity for a select number of people to
work with me to map out the property, and select areas either along a
stream, or overlooking the water. With a couple of solar panels they should
be a hit, and a key part of our much needed housing for our future
agro-forestry, permaculture, and/or tree farm project(s).  

 

I am looking into offering several levels of membership, so that those that
are not ready to settle down, are able to have a place to enjoy what Mother
Nature has to offer, that just might become a key part of their future.
Other investment options being considered on top of the initial offering of
refundable capital buy-in are various plans that will move forward progress
to complete some overdue routine maintenance that is key to allowing more
use of the sites mentioned. Some options will allow the investment to be
part of a future capital buy-in, or to allow for profit sharing allowing
members to use either a site, or an area, that they have adopted for certain
periods, say two to five years, possibly under a 50/50 plan allowing members
private usage, as well as the sites to be rented out to raise funds for more
routine maintenance to be completed. One options is for the future income to
be split 50/50 and paid out quarterly after a possible waiting period of
about 12 months. Or you may allow your share of the funds to be used for
additional routine maintenance to be completed, highly recommended. But the
important thing is that option that is selected, all funds will be tracked
by the finance committee, which will advise members of options available, as
well as they will hear suggestions and allow voting (or other decision
making options) as our membership increases, and our procedures, and plans
are put down on paper and approved by the membership). As the membership
increases I will consider options for future property ownership. At this
moment I am considering forming some sort of land trust that keeps the
property together for future generations to enjoy. But some subdivision may
be required as we look into future development options. 

 

I believe that many of the aspects of a campground do have similarities to a
cohousing development in that there is often a main building that provides
for residents or guests to gather to eat, do laundry, and for recreation.
Whether it is a common house, or a camp store with a snack bar or other food
service, a recreation room, rest rooms, laundry area, and in some cases
housing unit(s)attached for management and/or employees, similar to the
common house guest rooms. This property does not have a circular plan at the
moment. But I will be thinking about options for the future.

 

I do have concerns that most cohousing developments seem to be very costly.
But I am happy to see that many offer some units for those with a fixed
income. So I will try to learn more about these options. I expect that there
are incentives, and programs for those that incorporate this into their
plan.

 

There are many things for me to learn, and options to consider as we move
forward. But I am prepared to learn on the run(or a crawl if necessary).

 

Tours of the property are currently by appointment only. Mostly on Sundays.
For more information Please contact Robert F Goodrich at 802-479-3441 ;
SoutheasternADK [at] aol.com or PO Box 790, Stowe, VT 05672-0790.  I welcome
feedback, either on the listserv or privately using the contact information
provided. Whether the feedback is Good, or bad it should help me learn as I
move forward.

 

A little about me. I competed my career in the Navy in May 2004. I currently
work part time at the Stowe, VT Post Office. I am attempting to use my
veterans education benefits to earn my accounting degree, but I am having a
hard time fitting everything in. My dear wife Edith, with a "little"
assistance from myself, oversees the care of our 21 year daughter Amber in
her apartment in Berlin, VT. She is a cutie that is mentally about a year
old, and requires a ventilator to breath properly. On most days Amber does
receive the two nursing shifts that are authorized. We have to be prepared
to step in, when the shifts are not covered, or during the night if she
requires assistance. We are not quite sure it has made us stronger, but it
has helped us count our blessings. And yes it is B.F. Goodrich when I use
Bob. (I often get the health benefits of my laughter, and my dear wife
reminds me how long we have been married to show that she too has sense of
humor). Congratulations if you have made it this far. I have been told that
I may tend to run on.


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