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Our Story...or how we became a community.

 
 

The development phase of a cohousing community can take up to 10 years from the first idea to the exciting day when  residents move in. Cantine's Island took over seven years and nearly endless meetings. We had initial engineering done, hired architect Raym deRis of Belmont, Massachusetts, formed C.I. Holding Inc. as a development entity, took title to the property, obtained approvals from the Village Planning Board and NYS Attorney General, incorporated our Homeowner's Association, got financing from First Hudson Valley Bank, contracted with Westchester Modular to build the houses, and selected on-site contractors.

To make sure that all our buildings and spaces would be pleasing, we based our design on architect Christopher Alexander's book A Pattern Language, which is an analysis of what naturally pleases and accommodates people, and how these qualities can be incorporated into new designs. In choosing our architect one of our criteria was experience in applying these patterns to community design.

 
 

Through it all, we strived to complete our membership; the last of the twelve original members joined in November 1996. Residents moved into their new homes between November 1997 and June 1998. Our Common House, a 44 x 26 foot single-story structure, was completed in August 1998. In 2012 we completed an addition of a livingroom with a gas fireplace.

One additional home was built on the original plot of land. In 2002, the community purchased adjacent land with an existing historic house. Two more homes were built on this additional property (dubbed The Northwest Territory). This brought our census to 16 households. In 2007, a community family bought a private home adjacent to Cantine's Island and created two vacant lots by subdividing (The Southwest Territory). A young family built on one of these lots -- but the second lot is still available. Currently the community consists of 18 households.

 
 

In keeping with the philosophy of cohousing, the residents of Cantine's Island are living cooperatively, sharing management of the community as we have successfully shared development of the group and the project, pooling our energy and resources for mutual benefit, and being there for each other when help is needed. At the same time, individual and family privacy is respected. Interpersonal difficulties are resolved through mutual respect and commitment to the community as well as to our own personal interests.

Our houses are modestly-sized. Materials were chosen for minimal impact on the environment and on the health of the people who build the homes and the people who live in them. Energy efficiency was a top priority; the houses were built to NYSTAR standards (a NYS program for super-insulated, extremely energy-efficient houses). Landscaping is being done with wildlife habitat, native plant diversity, and food in mind.

 
 

A project like this succeeds when enough people unite to make it happen. Our eighteen households include members between the ages of 2 and 82 with one new baby expected in June of 2014. We include toddlers, students, retirees and a variety of professions. Each resident brings his or her own special talents, skills and outlook, and so enriches the community. We rely on members giving of their time and effort, recognizing that how much a person can contribute will vary with time and circumstances. From the outset, the group has made consensus decisions with ease. Our bylaws provide for resolving blocked decisions by going to a vote, but so far we have never had to do this. People who are interested in cohousing seem to automatically self-select for their abilities to share, compromise, trust, tolerate and maintain perspective.

Send questions and comments to: mcompain@hvc.rr.com
or to Cantine's Island Home Owners Association, Saugerties, NY 12477

Content © Cantine's Island Home Owners Association. All rights reserved.
Last updated February 11, 2014