"The land trust people were very professional and informative. They walked us through the entire process." – Wendy and Bill Whetsel
Wendy and Bill Whetsel
Bill and Wendy Whetsel moved to Putnam Valley in 1980 and bought a farmhouse that was built in 1763. In 1983, when the owner of an adjoining eleven-acre parcel offered to sell it to the Whetsels, they jumped at the opportunity. Twenty-eight years after buying the property on Mill Street in Putnam Valley, the Whetsels donated an easement to the Hudson Highlands Land Trust, barring all further construction on their land. We asked Bill and Wendy why.
Bill: "Because it’s so beautiful. You go up there in the spring, and there are deer, and little trickles of water; skunk cabbages and wood duck. It’s like being back in Brigadoon. It’s just so perfect. And when we saw what was happening all around us, well, we just never wanted anybody to do that [to this land.]"
Wendy, who grew up in Brooklyn, had always loved the country—partly thanks to childhood summers spent at a camp in the Berkshires--but also as a result of experiencing one of New York City’s blackouts while living in a ninth floor apartment. A non-working electric stove and electric can opener instilled a determination to have options in any future emergency. Owning a house with two fireplaces and enough land to grow vegetables and keep chickens and ducks is really important to her.
Wendy: "To me, it represents survival and being self-sufficient," she says. "It makes me feel a lot more comfortable knowing that, regardless of what happens, we’ll find a way."
Wendy and Bill say that donating the easement was not complicated.
Bill: "The land trust people were very professional and informative. They walked us through the entire process. I’m just grateful that there are land trusts that can save the beautiful areas of this country."
Concern about energy and food supplies led them to stipulate that farming and gardening would be permitted in the future. At some point, the Whetsels intend to expand their easement to include their house, but they want to evaluate the potential of new energy-saving technologies.
Wendy: "I don’t know what we might have to do in the next couple of years to make it more functional to meet new energy needs, so before I put new restrictions on it, I want to get a better sense of where we’re going."
With little spare time, Wendy Whetsel’s enjoyment of her property may come from knowing that she has these options. She juggles three jobs: commercial artist, member of the Town Board of Putnam Valley, and meeting facilitator for Weight Watchers. Bill, a merchandiser, has a different philosophy.
Bill: "When I’m not working, I like sitting in my yard with my dogs, enjoying the property and being in love with nature,"