Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Zen Spot

Whenever I need to realign my Ying and Yang--usually driving home from the station after an awful day at work--I stop to take a walk across the Croton Dam. The incredible serenity and beauty of the reservoir. The intensity of the water cascading down the falls. The loveliness of the Croton River. The reverberating crash of the water. It never fails to clear my mind of clutter and rejuvenate me. The road that goes across the bridge and along the top of the dam is open to pedestrian traffic only and has become a popular walking and biking spot. It connects to the Old Croton Trailway State Historic Park and Trail--which runs for 26 miles above the Croton Aqueduct, built to bring water from the reservoir to the city--and to Croton Gorge Park. The dam road is accessible from Route 129 or from Croton Dam Road.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Not Your Average Ranch

Few words conjure images of soul-sucking suburbia as much as ranch. As a rule, I am simply not a ranch person. But I'm making an exception for this 50's edition because it has spunk--and 2 wooded acres in the bucolic Huntersville section of Yorktown Heights, 10 minutes from the Croton-Harmon station. Located on Old Logging Road, the house is one of a group which--due no doubt in part to the steep and rocky terrain--are set back from the road behind trees and are nestled in their natural setting. (If only today's developers were so restrained!) Weighing in at 3,300 square feet with 4 bedrooms, the home boasts an appealing living room with a beamed ceiling and walls of windows. The rooms seem big and bright, and the mod kitchen with marble counters is working for me (though that lamp has got to go). On the con side, the landscaping looks a bit overblown. Nonetheless, there's plenty here to like at what seems to be a good price for the neighborhood. $925,000 Coldwell Banker, Google Map

More Westchester RE Reporting

Today's New York Time's article on the state of the Westchester market puts the recent Wester-Putnam Multiple Listing Service report--which found that the median sales price in the second quarter of this year was 2.1% below the year before--in a more positive light. Pointing out that the average sales price increased by 3% and that the number of sales continues to grow, the article paints a fairly rosy picture of the current (and near future) market. Source: The New York Times

Friday, July 27, 2007

Nature Play

Get the kids excited about creatures this weekend at the Teatown Lake Reservation (right). Located on the border of Ossining and Yorktown, this local treasure has ongoing events, classes, and camps for kids. And the miles of stunning trails are open (and free) for you to explore.
On the Edge of the Pond, Saturday at 10:00 am: Part of the Summer Habitat Safari Series, this is an exploration of the ecology of the lake and the many animals that call it home.
Raptor Roundup, Sunday at 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, and 3:00 pm: Learn about Teatown's collection of hawks and owls. The walk around the "raptor loop" is led by Teatown’s Raptor Guides.
Teatown Lake Reservation

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Prices Down 2% County-Wide

The latest Westchester-Putnam Multiple Listing Service report is out and the news is mixed. In Westchester, house prices fell by 2.1% in the second quarter of the year compared with the previous year. But at the same time, there was a small increase (1.3%) in the number of sales. The report described the recent market as "more of a dip than a dive." Nicely put.
Source: The Journal News

Absolute Antique

If you like old houses, and I do, this one is hard to resist. It's got exposed beams, wide plank floors, and lovely fireplaces--all on 4 plus acres with a barn. This 3,300 square foot, 6 bedroom 1700's classic has lots to offer (you just have to look past the owner's country clutter). While the house has a Katonah address, it is actually in Somers (with Somers schools). Which makes the price seem a bit high. I'm not a realtor--I just play one on the Web--but for over two million in Somers I expect a pool or central air. That said, the fact is that they're not building houses like this anymore. $2,195,000 Sotheby's International Realty

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Outdoor Movies and Music

Looking for a free event for the children? Tonight in Croton's Senasqua Park, catch the kid's movie Shark Tales. Screening starts at 9:00. Thursday, the magician Neech is performing, also at Senasqua Park, at 7:00. This Thursday's outdoor event in Yorktown Heights includes a children's concert featuring the group Beth and Scott and Friends. The concert begins at 7:00 and will be followed by a screening of the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (left) at dusk. Events are held at the field behind the Yorktown Community and Cultural Center.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Sweet and (Relatively) Cheap

While this certainly is not the cheapest house in Croton, it does appear to be one of the better buys for anyone wanting an in-town experience. The 2,100 square foot 1930 cutie is on Cedar Lane, in the popular Sunset neighborhood and near the wonderful Silver Lake (a beach along the Croton River). The 3 bedroom home has many nice details, including a living room with vaulted ceiling and a stone fireplace, a nice kitchen, and a large deck. The lot is over a quarter of an acre. $689,000 Houlihan Lawrence, Google Map

Monday, July 23, 2007

Playground Picks

Some families pick a playground and stick with it, but we tend to rotate. There are great ones all over the area, so over the course of a given month my son will hit most of his favorites once or twice. Here are our top picks.

Peekskill Riverfront Green Since it's renovation last year, the playground (above) is as good as the rest of the park. It's big and interesting, with rock-climbing walls and lots of bridges, towers, and climbers. The benches afford a stunning view of the river and mountains. Then there's the passing trains, beach, and dock to enjoy. Lunch and ice cream can be had across the street. Google Map
Croton Point Park The playground on the northern end is bigger and better for older kids, with many bridges and climbers. The southern playground is good for younger kids and has a fabulous tire swing. Both afford great views of the Hudson River and Half Moon Bay. When my son tires of the playground, there is the entire park--and the wonderful beach--to explore. Croton Point Park, Google Map
Downing Park This Yorktown Heights park has three different play areas, each designed for a specific age group. The park adjoins the massive New York State Franklin Roosevelt Park and has direct (and free) access to it's trails--including one that is flat and wide and perfect for strollers and bikes. Google Map
Depew Park Peekskill's main park has a fairly large playground with two different structures and a good number of swings. The park boasts a gorgeous gazebo and trails around a large pond. Paths lead into the adjacent 1,500 acre Blue Mountain Reservation, which has hiking trails good for kids (as well as challenging ones). Google Map
Gedney Park Located on the eastern edges of New Castle, this park offers an interesting playground. Two wooden play structures provide multiple bridges, towers, ladders and other challenges. The park has lovely trails through the woods and a paved path that runs along a large pond. Google Map
Leonard Park Mount Kisco's main park has a good playground with structures for different age groups. The sand area is outstanding. The pond and Japanese temple are lovely to look at. Google Map
Railroad Station Park The playground is fine, but what makes this Yorktown Heights park special is that the North County Trailway runs through the park, which features the last station of the old Putnam Railroad. The park is a quick walk to supermarkets, Starbucks, and other stores.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Fab Fixer

"Potential" is one of those words realtors throw around, but this listing appears to be loaded with it. The 1870 Second Empire Victorian is 4,400 square feet and seems to have retained a good deal of detail (check out the marble mantelpiece and the staircase banister and molding). While parts of the house are finished (although rather poorly, in my opinion), others are gutted. In addition to the house, this listing has the three most important things in real estate--land, land, land! 11.6 acres of it. As for that other L word, the property is well set-back on Route 100, across the road from the Croton Reservoir and just 5 minutes from Mt. Kisco (with an Ossining address and Yorktown schools). This house is clearly not for the renovation-phobic--as the exterior photo shows, it has been on the market for awhile-- but it could be a real stunner. $875,000 Coldwell Banker

Kudos for Good Takeout

Tomorrow's New York Times has a rave write-up of my favorite new takeout option, Mex-to-go in Croton. The taquiera offers a variety of delicious Mexican dishes, from burritos to pl├ítanos fritos to rotisserie chicken. Owned and operated by the owners of Umami Cafe (just down the road) and Peter Pratt’s Inn in Yorktown Heights, Mex-to-go has been a welcome addition to the family's non-cooking menu (which also features the always-delicious pre-made fare from Zeytinia). I call in my order from the train and it is ready when I arrive. Mex-to-go, 345 South Riverside Avenue, Croton, 271-8646 New York Times

Free Form

Michael Somoroff's Illumination I, at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, through October 14th.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Stone and Stately

You can't drive through the village of Croton without noticing and admiring the row of stone houses on Old Post Road. Built in 1900, this member of the group has a massive 5,300 square feet, with 4 bedrooms and 3.5 baths. High-ceilings, French doors, and lots of light give it a gracious feel, and the partial river views are an added bonus. Some of the original details appear to be gone, and parts of the house smack of having been renovated (and decorated) in the '70's. Personally, I'm loving the kitchen--but many will want to 'update' it. The lot is big for the village proper, at half an acre, and features a courtyard and separate studio. $1,450,000 Houlihan Lawrence, Nancy Kennedy, Google Map

Weekend Films

Not in the mood for Potter? Head to the Jacob Burns Film Center for their French New Wave festival, going on through mid-August. Films include Godard's Breathless, Les Bonnes Femmes, The 400 Blows, Jules and Jim, and many more. If you prefer something current, check out Joshua (left), the just-released psychological thriller about a troubled child and his picture-perfect Manhattan parents. For another look at high-end Manhattan life, try The Treatment, a film about a prep school teacher's bouts with love and therapy, at the Paramount Center for the Arts.

Live, Work, Sell

This attractive three story in Peekskill's Artist District seems to offer a number of interesting options. Located on Division Street, around the corner from the Paramount Center for the Arts and in between the Peekskill Coffee House and Peekskill's restaurant row, the 2,200 square foot store is a good spot for a new business. The 4,400 square foot building also has a loft space and a 2 bedroom apartment. The listing only has exterior shots, so who knows what's inside. $599,000 Carla T. West Realty

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Benefits of a Croton Commute

In my four years of commuting daily from the Croton-Harmon station to Grand Central, I have had 3 delays (all due to severe weather). Day in and day out, the Metro-North trains leave on time and arrive on time. And the view of the Hudson never fails to amaze me. But tonight Grand Central closed for a short time due to the deadly steam pipe explosion. I hadn't left work yet, so I walked over to Penn Station and caught the Amtrak to Croton-Harmon. It cost $25.00, but it was worth it to avoid the hassles and get home on time. (By the time I arrived, Metro-North was running on schedule.) As great as Metro-North is, I am thrilled to always have Amtrak as an emergency backup. (Caveat: The photo is of a Metro-North train near Coldspring.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Chugging Down the Trail

Northern Westchester has numerous nature preserves with countless miles of hiking trails winding through untamed land. There are also plenty of parks with landscaped lawns, playgrounds, and paths. But there is nothing else quite like the North County Trailway, a linear park that stretches over twenty miles. The trailway is popular with walkers, joggers, roller-bladers, and bikers of all ages. It offers the best of a vibrant public space and, at the same time, provides the perfect place for quiet contemplation. A paved path on the old track bed of the Putnam Railroad line, the trailway goes through a few towns (Yorktown Heights boasts the only remaining station), and has a number of convenient access points. It runs from Elmsford in the south (where it connects with the South County Trailway) to Putnam County in the north. North County Trailway, NYC Bike Maps Photos by the biblioholic.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

From Cow to Wow

This 1850's former cow barn is now a lovely 4 bedroom house. At 2,600 square feet, the home retains many original features--pine floors, exposed beams, barn doors--but is updated enough to have been featured in House & Garden and House Beautiful. The 9 lovely acres include a pool and 2-car garage. Located in Somers, near the Yorktown Heights business district and Muscoot Farm, the home has a Katonah address (but Somers schools). Interestingly, the realtor is positioning the listing as a second home. With an under 10 minute drive to the Katonah station, this seems like an ideal primary residence. Either way, it's quite nice. $1,195,000 Houlihan Lawrence

Eye Candy

The Hudson, from Croton Point Park. Photo by A. Belani.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Village Victorian, With Turret

This 1890 Victorian in Croton's upper village has good details and charm to spare--and even has a peek of river view! The kitchen appears renovated, but elsewhere the house looks to be in need of a little love--or at least painting. The house is close to most village amenities, but it's also bound to get some traffic noise from nearby Route 9. The lot is just 0.14 of an acre, but at 2,400 square feet with 5 bedrooms, there is lots to like for the price. $749,000 Houlihan Lawrence, Google Map

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Peekskill Arts and Crafts

Peekskill has lots to offer--an art museum, galleries, good restaurants, interesting stores, a pitch-perfect coffee house, and a stellar riverfront park, to name a few. It also has oodles of beautiful houses at remarkably low prices. This 1930, 2,000 square foot 4 bedroom is in the Fort Hill Historic District. The renovated kitchen is standard-issue (granite, cherry, stainless), but appears nicely done. There are tons of great details in tact (and one hopes the wood floors are still under the wall-to-wall). All in all, a very nice house at a relatively reasonable price. $495,000 River Towns GMAC

Pan-Asian Fun

This Sunday is the Hammond Museum's annual Asian Arts Festival. Held in the museum's Japanese Stroll Garden, the festival features traditions from Japan, China, India, and Indonesia. There will be music, dance, food from area Asian restaurants, and children's crafts. The event starts at 1:00 with a performance of the Chinese Lion Dance (right). Crafts include origami, Rangoli painting, and Chinese brush painting. It's a fun experience, and the museum and garden are always worth a visit. Asian Arts Festival

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

60's Groove

Even if the exterior of this 1963 house weren't so enthralling, the listing would be noteworthy for the 5.9 acres on Haines Road, a truly beautiful area along the Croton Reservoir just outside of the villages of Katonah and Mt. Kisco. At 2,390 square feet, the 4 bedroom house isn't large. And since the agent neglected to include any interior photos, we are left to assume a good deal of work is needed. But there is the promise of "vaulted ceilings, exposed beams, and a massive stone fireplace," not to mention a pool and "sport court." Given the location, land, and the Bedford address (and schools), the price seems good--and reinforces the belief that a major renovation is in order. $1,295,000 Ginnel Real Estate

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Kids' Tunes and Tricks

Entertaining the kids in the warm weather is a snap, but here are two ways to break the routine:
Dan Zanes and Friends, winners of the 2007 Grammy for Best Musical Album for Children, are performing in Peekskill July 7th. Paramount Center for the Arts
The Croton Summer Family Entertainment Series provides fun for the tykes every Thursday at 7:00PM through August 2nd. Performances will include a magician, a juggler, and musicians Dave Fry and Andrew Roblin, and will take place at either Senasqua or Vassallo Park. Contact the Croton Recreation and Parks Department at 914-271-3006.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Music is in the Air

Nothing says summer like an outdoor concert. Here are just a few of the local offerings:

Caramoor international Music Festival This 7 week extravaganza started in June and runs through Aug 5th. The concerts take place in Caramoor's lovely Spanish Courtyard (above) and feature a number of renowned musicians. The music ranges from jazz to Latin classics to Verdi and Mozart. Caramoor International Music Festival

Westchester Jazz Festival As if sunset over the Hudson wasn't exciting enough, this festival at Croton Point Park on July 7th includes top jazz musicians such as Richard Elliott, Rick Braun, and Lou Volpe. Westchester Jazz Festival

Lasdon Summer Concert Series Since moving up from the city, this has become one of my favorite rites of summer. Sitting on the lawn beside the Gatsby-esque mansion, watching the sunset over the distant foothills, and listening to music performed live. Ahh... Concerts are on July 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th. Lasdon Summer Concerts

Lunch at Lasdon Jazz Series How about free jazz with your lunch? Head to the lush lawns at Lasdon Park every Friday through August 10th from noon to 2:00.

Peekskill Celebration As part of this month-long event, there will be concerts every Wednesday evening in July at 6:00 as well as concerts on August 3rd and 4th. Performances are held along the Hudson at the Riverfront Green Park. Peekskill Celebration