Start renovating now for next to nothing


My goal is to create a private space within my home that can be used as an in-law apartment or guest suite with a private entrance. Starting with a home characterized by two front doors helped to make this transition easy. This space is about 250 square feet and consists of a kitchen sitting-room, a bed/bath room and a half bath with sink.

Renovation Design

The doorway on the kitchen fridge wall is new. It existed before and we reopened it. The bath tub replaces a closet area.

Before view of kitchen

The original kitchen looked nicely spacious. But I wanted to make it do double duty as a sitting area as well. So I moved the fridge to the wall opposite the front door and morphed its original location into a cozy arm chair nook.  The bed bath area and construction cleanup remain to be done, so please excuse the mess

After view of kitchen











I am nearing the end of my kitchen renovation which cost me about $43.

The price is low because I used materials I already had on hand. These included copper colored tin ceiling tiles which can be purchase for $2 per sf.  Stenciling with a microwave steamer food container (the one with the holes).  Sponge painting and furnishing incorporates free and inexpensive materials available on,, and stuff left on the curb for trash pickup. My kitchen rug 2 x 5 ft., is indoor outdoor carpet purchased for $35 at Frames were $2 and under at Salvation Army in Ilion. Habitat for Humanity in Syracuse is home to nearly free paint and used kitchen cabinets.

Kitchen back splash hanging units can be quite pricy. The white wooden trim above my backsplash is a 2 x 4 from a closet demolished in the adjacent bedroom.  It’s decorated with free form contact paper cutouts (Black and white)  and transformed for maximized storage usefulness with cup hangers from that cost under 50 cents each.

If you would like to hire me for inexpensive design and shopping assistance, call or text Linda at 315-360-3910. Your Herkimer renovation design can be thrifty and fabululous!

Greed Fuels Climate Change

Climate Denyers Get Fat Cash Rewards $$$

Denying climate change pays well. Congress and Senate Climate Denyers received over $80 million in contributions. Unfortunately denying climate change is the quickest way to destroy our planet. Here are some photographs of what climate change does.

Miami Flooding








Port St Lucie





Florida Coastal Flooding

Florida Population Grows Despite Flooding Losses

Florida has the greatest amount of land at or near sea level of any US state. Average elevation is 100 ft. This makes it the most susceptible to flooding. Surprisingly Florida’s population has grown significantly in recent years. Two years ago the Space Coast Daily reported that population was growing at more than 1000 people per day. In 2016, Florida continued growing. But losses could reach $200 billion dollars from a single large hurricane according to the Washington Post.

Try St Lucie’s interactive flood mapper to see why population in Florida should stop growing.

Blindly Following Dreams Can Cause Worst Nightmares!

Florida has long been one of the most popular places for vacationing and retiring and continues to be one despite the sharp increases in flood insurance premiums. This does not mean that it is safe. It simply means that people prefer to hold on to beliefs that comfort them in the face of all evidence. Donald Trump exhibits this same kind of delusional state of mind.  His standing on the topic may very well be set in stone because denying climate change pays well. Unfortunately, he is responsible for leading the nation (at least for now).

New York Times Encourages Coastal Resident Relocation

Coastal Resident Relocation
Hard Rock Cafe after Katrina 2005

The New York Times made one of the most significant contributions to protecting mankind this week, when it painted a clear picture of the jeopardy we are now in from climate change. NYT’s earthshaking article, Perils of climate change could swamp coastal real estate, makes it clear how buying and owning property in coastal areas is a risk to both your person and your wallet. For all coastal dwellers like those in Florida, Louisiana, New York, Sidney Australia and the Pacific Islands, now is the time to relocate rather than play a game of Russian Roulette which the ocean will inevitably win.

Florida is a narrow peninsula with a single major highway, I-75 that connects the south to the north. It is easy to imagine a cataclysmic event where vehicles are at a bumper to bumper standstill as a hurricane-driven super wave rolls across the flat landscape destroying everything for miles.

The New York Times has stated clearly that those in low lying coastal areas must relocate. It has issued the first direct call to migrate from unsafe areas most endangered by climate change. If you live in such an area, think about moving inland.   If you are in a safe and sustainable area like Herkimer County, Albany, Rochester or anywhere in Central New York – prepare to receive incoming populations.

By Linda Kaidan

Related readings:

Climate Change Survival

Halt Runaway Global Warming

Tiny new satellites can guarantee that we don’t die from global warming

Surviving Climate Change: Decide to Live by Linda Kaidan


Welcome New Neighbors At Herkimer’s 328 Pleasant Avenue!

On our way back from voting this afternoon, we briefly greeted our shy new neighbors at 328 Pleasant Avenue. Here in Herkimer NY, it’s a rare pleasure to have young folks next door who show no overt signs of drug or child trafficking, pyromania, or indulge in criminal harassment of the defenseless elderly , as did owner Harriett Tangorra’s last tenant, suddenly-vanished but still-trending Curtis Cool. (Aka Curtis Dolan.)

If they’d like to try sharing some classical music with the ‘hood, instead of country and western, here’s a link to Vivaldi. 

Welcome aboard!

Is Camouflage Fooling You?

Camouflage may be fooling you. Perhaps that’s why no one has yet bought Herkimer’s 328 Pleasant Avenue. Just across the street from it lurks Al Murray’s house at 329 Pleasant Avenue, with its frontal array of plastic junk toys and wheeled play vehicles. This well-crafted eyesore gives rise to the belief that Al’s house is infested with screeching toddlers,  a no-go zone for anyone looking for a well priced home on a peaceful village street.

Don’t be fooled. As far as we know–we’re  just across the street from it–zero children live at Al’s house. Al wants you to believe that Herkimer’s Pleasant Avenue is a crappy street in a run down neighborhood. He has a mound of rubbish in his rear yard that can be seen from space. (He’s rejected at least one cash offer of $100 to allow others to remove it for him. )

Camouflage Fooling You

And perhaps Herkimer Pleasant Avenue was a  crappy street in a run down neighborhood for many of the 5 years Al’s lived here. But times have changed. Curtis Cool, aka Curtis Dolan, is gone, as are many other thuggish denizens of the dark. Our Pleasant Avenue neighbor, long-time Police Chief Joseph Malone, has retired in the teeth of an ethics investigation. Village codes are being enforced, and police and fire officers respond promptly and appropriately to calls. Herkimer county’s 911 center no longer tries to shunt calls to police and fire numbers not subject to New York state monitoring.

Especially good news is that three-time Herkimer County district attorney and retired Herkimer Supreme Court Justice Mike Daley is running for DA in November’s election. Judge Daley has a track record of being tough on crime rather than ignoring it, unlike our current District Attorney, Jeffrey Carpenter. Carpenter’s dangerous, self-serving policy of ignoring crime to keep the crime stats low has only made Herkimer even less safe.

End of Pleasant Avenue’s Empire of Dirt?

331 Pleasant Avenue sold recently and is being fixed up after years of neglect and use as drug dealing den. 331 was the center of Pleasant Avenue’s Empire of Dirt, anchored on the right by the 333 Pleasant Avenue, occupied by the colorful Douglas and Joyce Barton, and on the left by Al’s 329 Pleasant Avenue. If 328 is sold rather than rented by Harriett Tangorra to another viscous thug, the mid-Pleasant Avenue balance shifts to the law abiding. Sell or not, we and our cameras will be watching.

330 Pleasant Avenue Herkimer NY vigilant sunflower
Vigilant Sunflower, 330 Pleasant Avenue Herkimer

Drones can see you anytime

by Linda Kaidan

What are drones and what do they mean to you?

A drone is an unpiloted aircraft vehicle so there is no human pilot onboard. A flight can be controlled remotely or it can operate with the guidance of an on board computer controlled system.  Recent laws require those who operate them to have a license but there are few restrictions on who can operate them and on what they can fly over. Drones can see you and can be operated by individuals, companies, public and private organizations. Most drones are equipped with cameras that can photograph day and night. Some are equipped with 3 D cameras that can create 3 D models of surface features.

What can drones see?

Though drones may be so high in the sky that you can’t see them, they may very well see you. Two nights ago I witnessed our first neighborhood drones. There were three blinking off and on against the night sky. Though you may not have heard of them, surveillance drones have been around for quite a while. Click here for a video of a 2011 hummingbird surveillance drone.

Dronezone has a wide variety of drones for sale. Some feature GPS, autopilot and aerial photography options. An auto-piloted drone takes aerial photos and video of far superior capability than any pilot can.

What can a drone do?

It can identify images at precise locations for use in 3 D mapping. Having a drone with a GPS autopilot flight system and camera is essential for aerial photogrammetry, 3 d mapping and multispectral imaging. That includes infrared. So night flying drones can see too. Drones can be used for crop monitoring and site surveillance so keep in mind that day and night drones may be watching you

Remember that drones can see you whether they are launched by the government, the police, a stranger or a nosy neighbor. They can be looking at you from the sky at any time and even if you don’t see them, they may very well be able to see you.

Morning Mohawk River Walk with Bear

by Linda Kaidan

Mohawk Valley Walk - River Park - HerkimerI have mapped our extremely excellent morning Mohawk River Walk with Bear the dog. If you live in Herkimer Village, NY you can easily enjoy this experience too – at least whenever weather permits.

Mohawk River Walk Tree Herkimer
Is this Mohawk River tree big enough for you?

Recently, our Village has been getting an amazing makeover, provided by the people who live here. It turns out that we love nature and gardening and whether our budget is big or small, many of us manage to create exuberant environments on our adorable country lanes.

Now featured are flower boxes, gardens, wildflowers, the occasional groundhog, birds, butterflies and a stately and nearly empty river park where you can enjoy the river, ancient trees, a picnic area, fishing and even clean toilets. The best summer fun is just minutes walk away!

Please add your voice to ours. Tell us your Herkimer Village stories or write them yourselves as guest bloggers. We value your contributions. Contact us at

Pleasant Ave. Herkimer, NY is on the Mohawk River Walk

walk 01 - CopyHerkimer River Walk

Walk 1 - Copy

Mowhawk RIver Walk Herkimer
PK’s Pub Pleasant Ave. Herkimer, NY

On to King ST – Herkimer Village NY

Mohawk River Walk Herkimer NY
King St Herkimer, NY
Red Canna Lilies against white fence

Mohawk RIver walk Herkimer, NYMohawk River Walk Herkimer NYMohawk River Walk Herkimer NY

Steele St. Herkimer, NY

Mohwak River Walk HerkimerCorner of Unpaved Kings Rd Herkimer NY and Steele Stwalk 8 - Copy walk 9 - Copy walk 10 - Copy

Mohaek River Walk Herkimer NY
Mohawk River Park approach Herkimer
walk 14
Herkimer Park Toilet–Clean and Standin’ Tall

walk 16 walk 18 walk 19Mohawk River Park Herkimerwalk 22 walk 23

Steele and King St homes herkimer
Steele and King St Homes–Herkimer

walk 21 walk 27 walk 28

Mohawk River Park Walk Herkimer Village

Don Heath and Paul remake Pleasant Avenue’s most blighted home

by Linda Kaidan

remake most blighted Herkimer home
Don Heath carpenter extraordinaire renovates 331 Pleasant Ave.

Three thirty-one Pleasant Ave looked like a blighted hulk long before we moved into the house across the street two years ago. It was indeed one of the most dilapidated homes in Herkimer Village. Fortunately, Don Heath and Paul are now renovating this home purchased at last month’s county auction. Their remake most blighted Herkimer home project is well on the way to success.

Don and Paul are true community leaders who lead by example

Paul and Don are no strangers to village renovations. They have already transformed more than 40 houses in the area. They are completely undaunted by this home’s condition. After removing 5 containers of trash from inside and outside this structure they quickly got to work re-framing the windows and residing the exterior. Don has already transfigured the front of the house – now a vision of perfect loveliness. Just see for yourself! Here are before and after shots.

331 Pleasant Ave Herkimer on auction June 4, 2016
Herkimer Property Auction June 4th 2016
Renovating 331 Pleasant Ave.
In just 22 days 331 Pleasant Ave looks so much better!

These urban pioneers have been a strong force for positive development in our community. They recognize and appreciate the true beauty of Herkimer Village and oppose with courage, talent and determination the negative forces set in motion by decades of economic depression.

Don and Paul love our village and its strong connection to our magnificent natural surroundings. They have countered the exploitation of two decades of slumlords and are a beacon of positive action for us all. Not only are they courageous renovators, they are also actively engaged in teaching others how to preserve homes and how to promote personal development, education and responsibility in our community.

Let’s follow Paul and Don’s positive example by sharing our talents and abilities with others and by taking responsibility for ourselves, our families and our community. Think about how you can share your time, skills and knowledge. Each one of us can make a difference. Now is a good time to begin.

Impressive Herkimer County Land Auction Turnout Reflects Mohawk Valley’s Growing Prosperity

Herkimer College, Where Barns Abound

Impressive Herkimer County Land Auction Turnout

Over 600 people packed Herkimer Community College’s Sarkus-Busch Theater yesterday for the annual Herkimer County Land Auction. The standing-room-only turnout overflowed into the hallway. Taking a break from his beat covering crime and devolution along Herkimer’s Pleasant Avenue, Herkimer Post Crime Editor Steve Berry was in attendance.

Berry reports that bidding for the 91 properties was lively and sometimes heated. A fight broke out at the back of theater following the biding on property #44 (25 Warren St., Mohawk). The auctioneer’s wife, the formidable Mrs. Knapp, led campus security and sheriffs deputies in quelling the disturbance and ousting the combatants.

All 91 properties on auction were sold, with accepted bids ranging from $100 for a very small lot to nearly $80,000 for a single family residence. On our own Pleasant Avenue here in the Village of Herkimer, two homes were auctioned: the anxiously-watched 331 Pleasant Avenue was purchased by Buyer #43 for $4,500, (following a laughingly rejected starting bid of $300), while less timeworn 316 Pleasant Avenue sold for $13,000.

One impressive looking home at 68-70 Prospect Street in Little Falls, Item 13, went for just $13,000. However, it does have a substantial Federal Tax Lien of $67,342, placing it at risk of seizure.

The heavy-hitting buyers were numbers 323 and 625, who purchased multiple properties: Buyer 323 bought three Ilion parcels totaling $90,000. Buyer 625 purchased properties totaling $45,000 in Poland.

Below is a spreadsheet of the Herkimer County Land Auction sales. A few of the sold prices are missing and the formatting could profit from greater granularity, but the bottom line is that 91 properties sold for slightly more the $960k.

Pros and Cons of Herkimer County Land Auction

Limiting factors on buying these auctioned homes include inability to view the interior of occupied property and perform adequate inspection, and the requirement to pay cash for a purchase within a three week period. Despite these limitations, the Herkimer County Land Auction offered the opportunity to acquire valuable property significantly below actual value in a market of rising property values.

Followers of Central New York property values are likely to have noticed recent sales of homes that have long languished on the market. The availability of small, inexpensive lots has also diminished. It’s quite possible that this auction illustrates a new benchmark in Herkimer County property values.

Often local residents fail to see the changes happening around them. It’s hard to view the familiar with fresh eyes. But while Herkimer and its surrounding counties appear to have remained the same, the world around us has significantly changed. Our world-class resources of abundant rainfall, fresh surface water, agricultural land and the largest contiguous forest in the US, coupled with the scarcities and insecurities caused by global warming, now make the Mohawk Valley and Central New York one of the best places to live not only in the US, but on the planet.

Central New York has become the focus of increased regional development, notably Nano Utica. And almost unnoticed, New York’s Capital Albany has been silently and quickly growing, not so much in its historic areas but on its periphery, with an abundance of well-planned commercial, residential and industrial development. While New York City is ultimately doomed by rising sea levels, it appears that the de facto policy is to relocate much of the state’s infrastructure to the Central Region, which isn’t threatened by rising sea levels and massive storms.

Herkimer County Land Auction Sales June 4, 2016



331 Pleasant Avenue Herkimer NY on Auction June 4 (PART TWO)

by Stephen Ames Berry

Herkimer property auction - Deciding When To Bid
                                          Deciding When To Bid


June 4, 2016 – 11:00 a.m. at HERKIMER COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE HERKIMER, NEW YORK Doors open at 9:30 a.m

If you read our previous post about bidding on Herkimer’s 331 Pleasant Avenue., you’ll know why we think that hidden gem’s a great buy: low cost of acquisition in an area of rapidly appreciating real estate values.

We’ve had success elsewhere, buying low in marginal neighborhoods just before prosperity rolled in, as we did 3 years ago here on Pleasant Avenue.
Our judgment is being affirmed, as prosperity ripples out from nearby booming Utica and its multi-billion dollar Utica Nano Tech site.
Real estate sales figures for this spring won’t be available for a while, but it’s apparent to us that the sale prices of local homes are soaring.

Perceptive home buyers are targeting Central New York not just because of it’s economic rebirth, but for the same reason Elon Musk relocated Solar City from Silicon Valley to Buffalo, and New York State bankrolled Nano Tech Utica: climate change. Climate change and fresh water abundance are the catalysts that will send the Mohawk Valley and Herkimer soaring beyond back into prosperity. As we saw in Boston of the 1990’s, spreading affluence quickly brings the return of good governance and plummeting crime rates. (Neighboring Utica has already cleaned house.)

Looking at Herkimer Property  On Auction – What To ignore

Ignore people you may see milling about any of the properties on auction.  As with 331 Pleasant Avenue, they don’t want the property to sell, or hope it will sell cheaply to friends if the auction is not widely publicized or potential bidders can be intimated. They often bring in friends from around town to serve as extras in their street theater performances, given at prime viewing times.

Some of the Herkimer county-owned houses on auction, such as 331, are marked as “OCCUPIED.” If a property being auctioned was a rental property, “occupied” doesn’t mean it has tenants. The county owns the property. The county does not have tenants, and no right of tenancy conveyed to the people in 331 Pleasant Avenue or any other county-seized house.

I’m not an attorney, but New York law seems quite clear that if you buy a county-owned property, you have the right to issue a 10-day Notice to Quit to the squatters. It’s a quick and inexpensive process. And in the case of 331 Pleasant Avenue, the local police will be happy to assist. 331 has long served as of Pleasant Avenue’s rapidly eroding empire of dirt. Buy it, you’ll not only get a bargain, you’ll see your equity quickly appreciate as it’s taken out of play, encouraging more new owners to buy into Pleasant Avenue and Herkimer.

Who Else Wants A Secret Herkimer Land Auction Of County Owned Property?

There’s another group who seem to not want this auction publicized: local investors who are members of Herkimer’s good-ol’ boys network, used to snapping up housing bargains at auction. The link to the auction on the Herkimer County Real Property site winked out of existence shortly after I saw it. (I foolishly told an elected official about it.) The local investors are well aware of the rising real estate values and the increasing prosperity. They, too, would like fewer potential competitors to come to the HERKIMER COUNTY LAND AUCTION OF COUNTY OWNED LAND on June 4, 2016 – 11:00 a.m. at HERKIMER COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE HERKIMER, NEW YORK, where doors open at 9:30 a.m. Registration required.

Can’t wait for the bidding to begin at this Herkimer property auction. 

Author Stephen Ames Berry is a former officer of Harvard University and a veteran of the National Security Agency’s US Army Security Agency. Follow him on Twitter @writerredux