“Our first visits were met with baked goods from neighbors on both sides,” said Strickland. “We’ve felt just as welcomed ever since.”
Another part-timer, Columbia resident Donna Thomas, said neighbors keep her family informed of any problems, such as downed trees.
Round-the-clock security, ensuring that only residents and their guests have access to the community and lake, was important to Carey Young, who lives in Baileys Crossroads and recently bought a small cottage in a wooded setting: three bedrooms, two baths and a fireplace for less than $150,000. “It’s a gated community that doesn’t feel gated until you’re several hours away, and then you’re glad it is,” she said.
The homeowners association, composed of a seven-member board and 20 advisory committees, is responsible for operations within the gates. Earlier this year, state officials dropped a long-running demand for the homeowners to upgrade a spillway on an earthen dam along the main lake; the work was estimated to cost $6 million. The dam received a six-year unconditional operational certificate in March.
The homeowners association maintains a reserve fund to help with dam maintenance and to protect members from spikes in the annual assessments. This year’s assessment for all lots is $1,175 and covers services of the community’s volunteer fire department and salaries for a staff of more than 90 people who maintain the lake, streets and common property and tend to snow removal.
Use of the 18-hole golf course, swimming pools, boat slips or equestrian center entails additional fees. For example, a family pool membership costs an extra $170 per year.
Forty-four years after his purchase, Jeff Flynn says he still enjoys the community’s casual ambiance. “It’s not a country club atmosphere,” he said. “There’s a real sense of community here.”
Ann Cameron Siegal is a freelance writer.