Stone Ridge

Rural Sophistication

By   |  Photos by David Morris Cunningham  |   Community Spotlight

Ulster County is brimming with quiet hamlets nestled along tree-lined, winding roads. Stone Ridge is one such hamlet, a place where history meets nature. Its landscape is riddled with stunning old homes and bucolic farmland, and those who live there cherish its beauty and willingly pay the price.

Stone Ridge is in the Town of Marbletown about 10 minutes southwest of Kingston. Busy Route 209 is also the hamlet’s Main Street, which can make for slow going during weekday rush hours. But that gives drivers the opportunity to enjoy the town center, which is a designated historic district. Main Street is home to the Wynkoop House, built in 1772 and now a bed-and-breakfast and events venue, and the popular Stone Ridge Public Library, a charming stone building recently awarded state money to help complete renovations and stabilization work. With great restaurants and cafés, an arts center, a farm stand, health center, and a shopping plaza with a grocery store, all your basic needs can be met right in town. Stone Ridge is also situated along the O&W Rail Trail, a massive network of planned public trails.

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A COMMUNITY FEEL

Molly Parker-Myers says it took her a while to adjust to life as a full-time resident. “I didn’t have that magical feeling many people claim to have had when they first reached this area,” she explains. “It’s taken me the full five years we’ve been here to adjust to how isolating it can be living in Stone Ridge.” There’s no denying life in pastoral Stone Ridge is a big change from her previous life in Brooklyn. There are things she still misses about her old life, such as “sidewalks, and the random socialization living in an urban neighborhood provides. But as we’ve gotten more involved in the Stone Ridge community, the connections we’ve made have ensured that wherever we go we see dear friends and have great conversations.” Her two daughters attend High Meadow School, a private school in the hamlet. “It’s a progressive school that nurtures children’s minds, bodies, and souls,” she says. “And it’s a wonderful source of community for our family.”

Aside from High Meadows and a few private nursery schools and day-care centers, the other option for residents is the public school system. Rondout Valley Central School District includes Marbletown Elementary School, which recently merged with Rosendale Elementary; sand Kerhonkson Elementary School. GreatSchools.com gives all of the Rondout schools solid ratings.

FACTS AND FIGURING

Laurel Sweeney, president of the Ulster County Board of Realtors, says homes are selling for about 10 percent higher than last year, on par with the rest of the county. While inventory in Stone Ridge was low six months ago, Sweeney notes that it’s improving. “We’ve got a number of very nice homes that are in the $350,000 range.” Sweeney cautions buyers to act soon if they’re looking to buy, since super-low interest rates are now history and rates are creeping up.

There’s no conversation about the real estate market in Ulster County without addressing taxes. “The tax rate per thousand in Marbletown is about $26,” Sweeney explains. “We are at 100 percent market value. If you buy a house at $350,000, that’s what your house is assessed at.” Higher taxes notwithstanding, Stone Ridge has plenty of historic charm. And, as Parker-Myers points out, it also provides great access to some of the most beautiful outdoor recreation opportunities in Ulster County, such as Mohonk Preserve and Minnewaska State Park, which are located in nearby New Paltz. “It’s a sanctuary for artists, writers, and others who treasure privacy,” she says, “yet with easy access to everything.”

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