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Open Space Institute Protects Land for New Ulster County Community Trail

Image Credit: Greg Miller

Ulster County, NY (July 17, 2023)—The Open Space Institute (OSI) today announced the acquisition of land which will ultimately host a multi-use community trail in the Town of Marbletown.

OSI purchased the 90-acre “Osterhoudt Flats” property on Atwood Road from conservation-minded landowners Claude and Holly Osterhoudt.

The Town of Marbletown intends to use the 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. Marbletown’s Town Board approved the purchase of the Osterhoudt Flats property from OSI. Transfer of the property from OSI to the Town is expected to happen within the next three years.

“OSI is thrilled to support the protection of Marbletown’s beautiful natural landscapes. Thanks to our prior relationship with the Osterhoudts, OSI was uniquely positioned to quickly protect the Osterhoudt Flats property now so that the community can reap the benefits of access to protected land in the future,” said Bob Anderberg, OSI’s senior vice president and general counsel.

This is OSI’s second project with the Osterhoudts—in 2008 OSI purchased a conservation easement on Osterhoudt Farm, approximately two miles from the newly protected property.

Anderberg added, “Community trails that are free and easily accessible for people of all abilities have become increasingly popular for year-round recreation. Protecting this property is one small part of OSI’s ongoing efforts to increase public access to outdoor spaces.”

"We've been on the property taking care of it since 1981, and we're very happy that the property is going to be preserved and enjoyed," said Claude Osterhoudt.

“The preservation of the beloved and historic Osterhoudt Flats is a huge win for our community. Thank you, Marbletown for your wholehearted support of this investment in our well-being and quality of life,” said Rich Parete, town supervisor of Marbletown. “Thank you to Claude and Holly Osterhoudt for your patience and your devotion to conservation. And thank you to the Open Space Institute. This would not have been possible without your organization’s generous partnership,” Parete added.

Dale Robbins, chairman of the Marbletown Community Preservation Fund Advisory Board said, “This plan for a park meets so many of our goals in community preservation: providing an outdoor recreational space with easy access and a site for community gathering, conserving natural resources and wildlife, protecting a spectacular vista, and preserving the beauty and rural character of our community. This acquisition will play a vital part in the improvement of our town in ways that benefit everyone today and for generations to come.”

The 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. Read more about OSI’s effort to connect 20 communities and more than 250 miles of trails in the Hudson Valley here.

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.

The Osterhoudt Flats property is located within the watershed of the Esopus Creek and helps to clean and filter water before it enters the Hudson River. 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.

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 an open space preservation fund, known as the Community Preservation Fund. The 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.

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