Noble’s Pond, a master-planned active adult community just outside of Dover, DE, offers its residents “more fun per square inch than anywhere you’ve ever lived”—and they just might be right. Lifestyle Director Colleen Ostafy, who has been a part of Noble’s Pond since 2008, before the first home in the community was built, recently took home the National Association of Homebuilders’ silver award. As creative as she is energetic, Colleen is the beating heart of Noble’s Pond’s vibrant social scene.
“With the 55+ community, it’s nice to have a lifestyle director. I organize all of their trips, events, and everything they do in the clubhouse,” Colleen says. “When I’m throwing a party or organizing trips, I invite everyone. It’s true community involvement.”
Colleen holds public dinners where new residents at Noble’s Pond get to know everyone. On the second Wednesday of every month, she also hosts Coffee with Colleen—a gathering of 100-150 people. “They share ideas, and I tell them what’s going on, what trips are coming up. This year, we went to Alaska. We have an African safari that we’re doing in August. In September, we’re taking a bus trip up to Cape Cod,” she says. “We just went to see a minor league baseball team, ate hot dogs, and saw fireworks afterward. I’m like the travel agent of the community.”
Colleen has introduced residents to riverboat cruises to give them a different take on the cruising experience. Next year, they will travel to the Smoky Mountains, Tuscany, and the Amalfi coast. “The nice part about it is that all you have to do is pack your bags and go to the clubhouse. I take it from there,” says Colleen, who enjoys trips alongside the residents, making herself available to take care of any concerns that might arise—from logistics to healthcare emergencies. “I make residents happy,” she says. “They’ve worked all their lives, taken care of people. Now it’s their time to enjoy life.”
Being the lifestyle director for an active 55+ community has its advantages. “I had it on my bucket list to go to the tulip festival in Germany. So I got together in a room of 100 of my best friends and brought it up. Close to 50 people went to Germany with me,” Colleen says.
Noble’s Pond residents also have a tremendous amount to do close to home. “People who come to Noble’s Pond or even look at our website are like, ‘This is just so amazing’,” Colleen says. “If people are moving in from out of state, they don’t know each other. The clubhouse is our grounding point. They can meet their neighbors, and meet other people who have something in common with them. We can show you how to play pickleball and bocce. We have a community garden.”
While Colleen is a treasure trove of ideas for activities, she is also open to residents’ input. “I’ve had suggestions for a little bit of everything. I’m never going to say no to you,” she says. “I come up with some really crazy things sometimes. We have a group of residents—we call them ambassadors. If we have an open house, they’ll come and talk to prospective people coming into the community.”
Colleen considers herself adventurous, but not as much as one of the residents who she accompanied on a trip to Niagara Falls. “One of the ladies wanted to zipline over the Falls. And she’s in her 80s!” Colleen says. “She’s my little daredevil. We went to Las Vegas…she wanted to zipline there, too.”
The residents of Noble’s Pond are also committed to giving back to their community. “We do a lot of charity events. Girls’ Night Out to Fight MS has raised over $92,000 in the past six years. It’s amazing how residents come together,” she says.
For Colleen, the greatest satisfaction lies in making her residents happy. “People realize that you can really retire and have the good life. One gentleman said to me, ‘I feel like I’m on vacation.’ Another said, ‘I just have to pinch myself every day to think that I can actually have this life and enjoy it as much as I am,’” she says. “I love what I do. I want to make it fun and entertaining. When we go on these trips, they bring their bags up, we take it from there—and they’re on their adventure!”
A Gem in the “Hart” of Greenville, South Carolina | Hartness Development
“We’re building inheritable homes… that really will stand the test of time aesthetically and physically.”
Just a few short miles from downtown Greenville, SC, named #3 Small City in the USA by Conde Nast Traveler and “One of the South’s Best Cities” by Southern Living Magazine—you’ll find the charming community of Hartness. Named for the family that owns the land on which the community sits, Hartness is designed according to the principles of Traditional Neighborhood Development—walkable streets, a wide range of homes built to last, and a Village Center, complete with restaurants and shops. Within five minutes’ walking distance from every home, you’ll find an amenity worth visiting—whether it’s a thoughtfully-designed park, a hardscaped plaza, or the Village Center itself. The community also features 180 acres of nature preserve threaded with 15 miles of trails that are perfect for hiking, biking, or just getting lost in the beauty of Greenville’s countryside.
The Hartness family could have chosen many different paths for the 400+ acres of land they’ve called home for decades. In fact, Thomas “Pat” Patterson Hartness and his wife Mary Lou Hartness still live on an estate located on the property that Pat began acquiring in the 1970s. Instead, they chose to develop the land themselves, to create an idyllic retreat just 15 miles from the heart of downtown Greenville.
“We are fourth-generation Greenville folks, and we saw so much development going on around Greenville—other than the downtown area, which was revitalized in a very thoughtful way,” says Sean Hartness, CEO of Hartness Development. “There’s a lot of sprawl going on, traditional suburban development … There’s clearly a better way to develop property in a sustainable way where we preserve special places and the natural landscape. We really want to give back to Greenville and show that there is a better development pattern.”
The Hartness’ Greenville legacy began in 1940, when Pat’s father, Tom, purchased the local Pepsi-Cola bottling rights—an endeavor that led to the evolution of a successful packaging company with a wide network of global contacts. Pat became the CEO of Hartness International and Sean served as a senior executive before the family decided to sell the company and pursue other avenues—and they are on track for the Hartness community to be just as vibrant a venture.
“It’s naturally an attractive piece of property. There are two streams running through the land and 13 fishing ponds that have been here for generations. People used to pay to bring their boats out here,” Sean says. “The property used to be a large cattle farm. It was really countryside until the time that my father started to acquire the property. To his credit, he has literally planted hundreds—if not thousands—of trees.”
Sean gives a great deal of credit to architect Lew Oliver, who has worked with Hartness Development on land planning as well as vertical architecture. “We’re building inheritable homes, homes that you would see in downtown Greenville or downtown Wilmington. They’re multigenerational assets that really will stand the test of time aesthetically and physically.”
Currently, Hartness Development has a boutique hotel that’s about to break ground—but, like everything in this community, it’s unusual in the best of ways. The home where Sean grew up – and where his father and stepmom still live until they move into their new home in Hartness – will be integrated as part of the hotel’s welcoming front entrance and main lobby area. “My parents could have sold it, but it represented the heritage of our family, and the fact that my dad has lived there for almost 50 years,” Sean says. “We saw this as a great opportunity to repurpose a family asset into something that would be desirable not just for the family, but for the greater community at large.”
Hartness Development is a true family affair. Sean’s brother, David, works in the real estate industry and has been an active part of the development process. Pat and Mary Lou are involved on a strategic level, working with Sean on a regular basis and driving through the property to witness as their vision of an intimate, walkable, beautiful mixed-use community becomes a reality. “Our intent is to take certain aspects of the preserve, have gardens, and grow food for the restaurants in the Village Center,” Sean says. “We have a real desire to curate this project in a way that’s world-class. People will hopefully come here to see this project and say—wow, these guys really did something special.”
Keowee Key isn’t your typical community—and it doesn’t attract typical folks.
Located on a gorgeous lake in the South Carolina foothills, 45-year-old Keowee Key has many of the amenities you’d associate with a master-planned community: boating, a George Cobb-designed championship golf course, walking trails, tennis, pickleball, a pool, parks, and beaches. But, instead of being operated by a development company, Keowee Key is member-owned and governed. It’s a nonprofit organization, a municipality with 3,500 residents and its own water and sewer system. A seven-person elected board of directors oversees the community, and residents vote on how they’d like to see Keowee Key change and grow.
With so many opportunities for involvement, it’s no surprise that Keowee Key is home to phenomenal leaders, whose skills have proven invaluable. From strategic planning to fiscal stewardship, fire mitigation to facility renovation, the residents at Keowee Key—many of whom are retirees—play a vital role in shaping their community.
Strategic Planning Takes Center Stage
Margaret Eldridge, Keowee Key’s board president, has lived in the community for 12 years. Before retiring 20 years ago, she had a robust banking career. “I spent time managing the bank’s investment portfolio as well as running the loan administration area. I was also chairman of a state agency that provided financing for low-income housing and economic development activities. A combination of those things helped me understand the most appropriate mechanisms for financing big projects,” says Eldridge, who was also president of consumer banking for a statewide holding company and chairman of a bank.
Keowee Key’s board is proactive when it comes to strategic planning. “Five years ago, we identified the current trends for communities like ours and determined that we needed to renovate our clubhouse, fitness center, and golf course, and add walking trails through the community. We also had to upgrade our IT systems and one of our community pool facilities. Once we put a pencil to it, we had 14 million dollars of investment we needed to do,” Eldridge says. “From a business perspective, we had to create the plan to get that done, a financing plan, the oversight structure to accomplish all of those things in a manner that met our members’ expectations and was concluded on time and on budget … One of my roles was to create the (funding) plan and obtain community support for it.”
Members’ commitment to community improvement as well as their willingness to lead through volunteerism sets Keowee Key apart. “The kind of people who are attracted to being here are folks who have a heart for service. Our county administrator once said they’d have to have 40 more employees in the county to offset all of our volunteer efforts,” Eldridge says.
When she’s not engaged in board leadership, Eldridge is a volunteer instructor at Clemson in the Women’s Leadership Program. “I believe people need to have a purpose,” she says. “I really love my teaching because it gives me an opportunity to help young women and give them some information that gives them a leg up when they go to work.”
Sharing Safety Skills
Keowee Key resident Russ Landis also embraces leadership in retirement. He leads the community’s chapter of the National Fire Protection Association’s FIREWISE program, a U.S.-wide initiative in which community volunteers promote fire safety. An engineer by trade,
Landis worked for 40 years in the manufacturing industry, predominantly with heavy manufacturing, nuclear fuel, and power generation equipment. Eight years ago, Landis retired and moved with his wife from Pittsburgh to Keowee Key, located centrally to the homes of the couple’s four children. As a consultant, Landis spent most of his time on the road. He was looking forward to staying in one place long enough to give back.
Promoting fire safety in an urban woodland interface like Keowee Key is a vital job. “It’s very wooded, and we like to keep it that way. But the risks from wildfire are relatively high because of the density of the forest, so we have to work hard to keep it safe,” Landis says. “One of the ways we help reduce the risk of wildfire is to encourage homeowners to keep their property cleaned up by picking up dead branches and plants and recycling those through chipping activities. We run five of these chipping days a year. Residents who have a quarter-acre lot will gather up twigs, sticks, and vegetation and bring that up to the curb. On chipping day, we dispatch volunteers in pickup trucks to run around and pick stuff up.” The National Fire Protection Agency took note of Keowee Key’s large-scale risk reduction program and filmed the process, showcasing the community as a stellar example of FIREWISE.
Board director David Rosamond is the engineering project manager for the club and bistro remodel projects. An engineer whose career focused on project and construction management, Rosamond worked on the planning and development of projects all over the world until retiring in 2008 and moving to Keowee Key from Moscow.
When the community began considering major renovations and upgrading, it was only natural for Rosamond to get involved. “With my knowledge and background in engineering and construction, I was naturally assigned the responsibility for overseeing everything from contractors to architects. I used all of my skill set I had acquired after 40 years in the business; particularly in the initial phases, my wife said, ‘You spent more time on this project than the ones you used to get paid for.’ But, it was a labor of love.”
Fitness Project Renovation Team Chair Jon Goyert concurs. “I’m surprised sometimes about the number of people who volunteer. It’s very encouraging! I’ve got to think that goes back to people not wanting to sit around, continuing to want to contribute. There are all kinds of opportunities to do what they like to do.”
Along with his wife, Goyert, who has a PhD in Marine Science, worked for many years in the field of environmental analysis, running an office in Florida. While in Florida, the couple volunteered with Habitat for Humanity. They have continued their involvement with Habitat after their move to Keowee Key. Next year John Goyert will serve as president of the local affiliate, and his wife Karen will serve as secretary.
“The type of people we have (at Keowee), they’re all relatively young retirees. They came from a world of working. No one wants to just sit down and watch TV. We want to do stuff … It keeps you active and your mind sharp. I can’t imagine sitting around all day. I’d be bored to tears,” Jon Goyert says.
As Chair of the Fitness Project Renovation Team, Jon Goyert was in charge of the Fitness and Racquet Center renovation, including working with an architectural firm, gathering resident feedback, and seeing the project through. The opening ceremony was held in October 2018, and about 350 people attended. “We came in ahead of schedule and under budget. I think it turned out really well,” Goyert says.
A Walking Trail Partnership
Bill and Lenore Malin are committed to fitness through a different lens—establishing a roadside trails program at Keowee Key. The two ran a commercial building company together until 2005. “We did a lot of embassy work, a lot of restaurant work, just a very varied construction enterprise. Lenore handled the administrative piece and the office, I handled the rest of the ballgame. We worked as a team,” Bill says.
For almost five years, the Malins pushed to get the ROADS and Southside Walking Trail Project program off the ground. When financial support came to fruition, the two got to work as co-chairs, along with a supportive team.
“The community response to the walking trails has been really positive,” Bill says, adding that older residents in particular have benefited from the trails’ accessibility. “The use of the trail is far in excess of what we expected. There are a lot of dog walkers; it’s really crowded.”
In addition to their involvement with the roadside trails program, Bill and Lenore have hobbies of their own. “When I came down here, Bill bought lessons with a local potter for me as a Christmas gift. Now I have my own studio with a kiln and spray set-up for glazing. We do one or two sales a year within Keowee Key. I do the pottery, and Bill makes beautiful wooden trays,” Lenore says. “We love this community, and we’re very happy to be able to contribute something lasting to it. It raises our spirits and makes us smile every time we go out and see someone on the trail.”
What is multigenerational living? This community is a great case study.
Located in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains, Lake Naomi Club is the only Platinum Club of America, 5-star rated, private family resort destination in the Northeast. With all that it has to offer—Pennsylvania’s top-rated tennis complex, two Olympic-sized outdoor pools, boating and fishing on one of the largest private lakes in the Poconos, a sailing program, a multifaceted community center, and a wide range of planned activities for kids and teens—it’s easy to see why.
But Lake Naomi’s allure goes beyond its phenomenal amenities. It is that rarest of Shangri-Las—a place where multiple generations come together to build memories, sharing experiences that they will pass along to their children… who, in turn, will return to Lake Naomi Club when they have little ones of their own.
“My family first brought me up there as a young child in 1984,” says Lake Naomi Club homeowner and member Andrew (Andy) Bacon. “When I was in second grade, that was my first year there. From my perspective, what’s great about it is a number of folks we’ve known for a lifetime, much like family. It’s very much a community where the kids know the grandparents, the parents, and each other.”
A competitive person by nature, Andy is very much into the sailing program. His son is now six, and has begun sailing at Lake Naomi Club as well. “When I was a kid, up until when I was in high school, we went up there every summer. We’d pack the car and leave New York City,” Andy says. He attended college at Old Dominion University in Virginia Beach, a further distance from Lake Naomi, and so didn’t have much of a chance to visit until his mid-twenties—though his sister went to a local Pennsylvania university and spent a lot of time at the Club. “When I came back after having been away for years, it was like I never left from a friends and family perspective.”
Andy’s parents own a house at Lake Naomi Club, and five years ago, Andy and his wife purchased one as well. “I do the same thing I did as a kid. We leave July 1 and return home September 1, spending two months up there,” Andy says. Luckily for Andy, his job is flexible. He works for a technology integrator, so all he needs is Internet access to get his work done—giving him the freedom to spend time with his son, Jake. Andy’s daughter, Mary, is just nine months old, so she hasn’t had the opportunity to experience many aspects of the Club yet—but Jake definitely has favorite activities.
“He really likes the camp program they have there. It’s fantastic,” Andy says, referring to Lake Naomi’s Kids Klub. “He likes the golf course they installed a few years back, a little driving range where you hit balls into floating islands in the pond. He loves going to the lake and the pool, likes the freedom, loves taking the bus to camp, loves seeing his friends. The group of friends that my wife and I are friends with have kids as well, so we all come together.”
Another benefit of homeownership at Lake Naomi Club is the shared sense of responsibility. “It takes a village to raise the kids. If I’m sailing and they’re hanging out—if there’s 10-12 kids, as long as there’s one adult, everyone keeps an eye out for what’s going on. There’s definitely a feeling of family with the folks that are there.”
The active lifestyle at Lake Naomi Club exists in sharp contrast to the way many children spend their summers—glued in front of a screen. A friend of Andy’s at the Club has two daughters. After eight o’clock one summer evening, the girls came inside after a long day of having fun. They wanted to do something different, and one of the two suggested they play video games. “They said, ‘We haven’t played video games all summer,’” Andy says.
For Andy, the multigenerational element of Lake Naomi Club is deeply connected to the sports activities that the Club offers. “I can very vividly remember playing golf with my grandfather, with my father, now with my son. It’s the same with sailing, the same with swimming. The sharing of that sport activity, whether it be sailing, golf, tennis, whatever it happens to be—the life sports and community sports aspect is really what makes the multigenerational piece stick. It’s not like you’re just sitting around the house on the weekends. You’re integrating your life with your parents and with your kids.”
There is something magical about watching a tiny turtle emerge from its egg and wobble, awkward but determined, toward the sea. Add in the fact that baby sea turtles use the light of the moon to navigate toward the water, and you’ve got a truly mystical experience—except for all of the hazards that these pint-sized reptiles must confront along the way. Enter: sea turtle conservation.