In July, the Open Space Institute (OSI) has acquired the historic 90-acre Osterhoudt Flats property that is expected to host a multi-use community trail in the Town of Marbletown, Ulster County, NY. OSI purchased the 90-acre property on Atwood Road from landowners Claude and Holly Osterhoudt.
The Osterhoudt family settled in Stone Ridge in 1778 and have continuously resided on the original farmstead flanking both sides of Atwood Road further north. In 2008, Open Space Institute purchased the development easement to preserve their 70-acre farm in perpetuity.
In 1982, Claude and his father Earl Osterhoudt purchased the flats from the Huguenot Historical Society of New Paltz (Historic Huguenot Street), who had purchased the property from Sarah Chipp Lounsbery, a life member of the Huguenot Historical Society who died at the age of 96 in 1988.
Lounsbery had previously lived in the Wynkoop Lounsbery House on Main Street in Marbletown, a historic home where George Washington is said to have spent the night on his way to Kingston on November 15, 1782.
A lifelong resident of Stone Ridge, Lounsbery was a past president and lifetime member of the Stone Ridge Library and a former Postmaster of the Stone Ridge Post Office, having been appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The flats were in the Lounsbery family for over a century and were previously owned by the Van Leuven and Hardenburgh families. Another Lounsbery stone house was donated to the town to become the Stone Ridge Library.
In 1775, when Marbletown was the New York State capital for 30 days, Richard and Edward Lounsbery signed the Articles of Association, ten days after the battle of Lexington and Concord. The Articles, written by the Continental Congress “sought the salvation of the rights and liberties of Americans.” It was New York State’s official opposition of British rule.
The Osterhoudt Flats property was listed as one of the highest priority acquisitions in the Town of Marbletown’s Community Preservation Plan due to the land’s recreation potential and wildlife habitat, as well as containing the source of what is known as the School Aquifer. Residential wells in surrounding areas rely on the School Aquifer as a primary source of clean water.
A planned trail on the Osterhoudt Flats property has the potential to connect to other community trails, including the nearby O&W Trail, which OSI is improving and expanding as part of its Growing Greenways: West of Hudson Greenway Trails Vision Plan. You can read more about OSI’s effort to connect 20 communities and more than 250 miles of trails in the Hudson Valley here.
The property is located within the watershed of the Esopus Creek. Containing 42 acres of forested lands and 48 acres of grasslands and meadowlands, the Osterhoudt Flats property is large enough to provide significant habitat for forest creatures and grassland birds, including several species that are listed as rare, threatened, or endangered in New York.
The Town of Marbletown intends to use a newly established Community Preservation Fund to purchase the property from OSI and create a two-mile multi-use trail through the property’s meadowlands — the first-ever use of the Fund. Transfer of the property from OSI to the Town is expected to happen within the next three years.
In November 2022, the citizens of Marbletown approved a ballot initiative to enact a Real Estate Transfer Tax (RETT) that would provide revenue exclusively for the Community Preservation Fund.
A one-time tax applies to new property sales above the median price of a home in Ulster County, providing funding for community conservation projects without the need to raise taxes.
The municipality may use the Fund to acquire land for open space preservation, recreational initiatives, and agricultural protection, among other purposes.
Photo of Osterhoudt Flats provided by Open Space Institute; map courtesy town of Marbletown.