Sparta, N.J.: Lakeside Dwelling With an Alpine Vibe

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Sparta, N.J.: Lakeside Living With an Alpine Vibe

Looking for a lakefront home last summer, Steven Fabian scoured properties in Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey. Then he discovered Lake Mohawk, a three-mile man-made lake in Sparta, N.J. that borders the quaint White Deer Plaza shopping district with bustling shops, restaurants, and a brewery pub.

"There's so much to do – it wasn't like sitting around a campfire from New York City," said Mr. Fabian, 37, a correspondent for the television show "Inside Edition," which paid $ 725,000 for a house on Lake of 1935. Mr. Fabian and girlfriend Thea Gallagher, 36, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and Ms. Gallagher's 2-year-old daughter Georgia enjoy kayaking and fishing on the lake.

Lake Mohawk is the heart of Sparta, a 37 square mile parish in Sussex County, about 80 kilometers northwest of Times Square, with a population of about 18,575. Approximately 2,500 of Sparta's 6,700 households are in the Lake Mohawk Country Club community, which gives them access to 12 beaches. The parish also has several smaller maritime communities.

“People go to the Catskills, Poconos, or Lake George to escape and take a boat, water ski, or jump off the dock. We do something like this all day here in summer, ”says Marc Tremain, a local resident who works as a real estate agent at Weichert. "You're all over the country, but you can still be reached on Route 80 in about 10 minutes."

Bill Volpi, 65, the owner of Urban Source, a household product maker, and his partner Ed Bradley, 57, a special education teacher, were living in New York City in 2016 when they discovered Sparta.

The couple walked into a modern mid-century ranch house overlooking Lake Mohawk and “looked out at the lake through the glass wall,” recalls Mr. Volpi, “and Ed said, 'That's it.'” They bought the house for $ 425,000 as a weekend getaway but now live there full time.

“Our friends came to visit and passed a sign for a pig farm. They said: 'We would never think that you would end up here' ”, said Mr Volpi.

But these friends have often returned to visit, he added: "They love the peace and quiet – especially with the pandemic of leaving the city."

As in other suburbs and suburbs, Covid-19 has resulted in an influx of buyers from more populated areas such as New York City and Bergen and Hudson Counties. “A lot of what we hear is: 'My company is now virtual, so I'm not worried about commuting,'” said Christine Tremain, Mr Tremain's wife, who works with him as a real estate agent at Weichert.

How hot is the market? Shortly after Mr Fabian closed his house in January, the Tremains, who were his agents, received an email from a potential buyer who discovered the sale and offered to buy the house for $ 125,000 above that paid by Mr Fabian Price to buy. His answer: no thanks.

Lake Mohawk was created in 1928 when the Wallkill River, which flows north to the Hudson River, was dammed in Sparta. Then Arthur D. Crane and Herbert L. Closs, property developers, built houses around the lake in a lively style that combines Tudor, Normandy and German influences, with rustic stone walls and half-timbered facades.

The Lake Mohawk Country Club community now has 2,500 homes surrounded by tall trees along roads that wind through hills and ledges. Some of the most luxurious are on the island of Manitou, in the middle of the lake, which is connected to the mainland by a bridge.

Sparta has several smaller lake communities, including Lake Saginaw, Sunset Lake, and Seneca Lake, as well as a number of subdivisions outside of the lake areas that have seen large homes built over the past few decades.

Compared to areas closer to New York City, "Sparta gives you more bang for your buck," said Mark Iusssig, an agent at Coldwell Banker in the township.

A recent review of the Garden State Multiple Listing Service found 65 homes for sale ranging from a two-bedroom cottage requiring renovation for $ 99,000 to a three-bedroom Manitou Island home with 60 feet of lakefront for $ 3.35 million .

Both sales and prices in Sparta have increased over the past year. In the 12 months ended May 15, 521 single-family homes were sold for an average price of $ 431,000, according to the Multiple Listing Service; in the previous 12 months, 379 single-family homes were sold at an average price of $ 345,000.

The increasing demand has led to numerous offers and quick sales, especially in the lower price ranges, said Lynn Garafola, agent at Keller Williams. "Under $ 400,000 is crazy," she said.

Outdoor activities are at the heart of life in Sparta – be it kayaking, boating, or swimming on Lake Mohawk or other lakes, or hiking in nearby open spaces like Kittatinny Valley State Park, Paulinskill Valley Trail, or Stokes State Forest.

Sparta has several shopping centers, including one with a small cinema and bowling alley. There are also popular White Deer Plaza establishments like the Krogh & # 39; s, a restaurant and brewery, and the St. Moritz Grill & Bar.

Residents get an ice cream at the Alpine Creamery and enjoy it on the boardwalk overlooking Lake Mohawk. Watching fireworks over the lake is a popular tradition on July 4th.

About 3,150 students attend Sparta's public schools: three elementary schools, one middle school, and Sparta High School with 1,100 students, where 90 percent of 2019 graduates attended college. For the 2019-20 school year, the mean SAT scores were 568 in reading and writing and 572 in math, compared to national averages of 536 each.

Sussex County Technical School in Sparta is a state-wide public school for ninth through twelfth grades.

Private options include Hilltop Country Day School, which serves pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, and Veritas Christian Academy, which serves students in ninth through 12th grade.

Sparta also has a Catholic primary school, the Reverend George A. Brown Memorial School, as well as a Catholic middle school and a high school, both in honor of Pope John XXIII. were named.

Before the pandemic, Lakeland Bus Lines ran buses from Sparta to New York City in the morning and back again in the evening. But these buses have not been in service for over a year, and it is not clear when direct service will return.

In the meantime, residents can travel 12 miles south to the Rockaway Townsquare Mall to catch a Lakeland bus for a 90-minute ride into town. The cost is $ 13.05 each way or $ 111.40 for a 10-trip package. Or they can travel a similar distance to Dover and take a New Jersey transit train; It takes 90 minutes to get to Penn Station and costs $ 15.25 per trip or $ 445 per month.

The drive to New York City takes about an hour without traffic, but significantly longer during rush hour. Many commuters travel to jobs in other parts of New Jersey.

Mining – for iron, zinc and limestone – was part of Sparta's economy for a century. In 1891, Thomas Edison founded a concentrated iron ore company in Sparta, with a complex that included mines, industrial buildings, 50 workers 'houses, a schoolhouse for workers' children, and two shops. At one point the company known as the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Concentrating Works had 500 employees. But after ore was discovered in Minnesota, it couldn't keep up and the company went up in 1900. Many of the workers' houses were dismantled and brought to nearby Ogdensburg. Only crumbling stone walls remain from the operation, which are still visible in the forest.

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