A request for the extension of site plan approval for a retail plaza in the Town of Ulster last week saw town officials reveal that what some local residents believe is a prehistoric circle of stone pillars is more Fauxhenge than Stonehenge — likely to have been erected in the mid-20th century.
On the relatively slender agenda for a Town Board meeting held on Thursday, February 15 was the request for the extension of site plan approval for Kingwood Park Plaza, a 14,400-square foot retail building proposed by developer Pasquale Iovieno which would also include ancillary driveways and 58 on-site parking spaces. The parcel at 1204 Ulster Avenue is directly behind Five Guys Burgers & Fries, and on that property is the circle of stone pillars roughly 75-feet in circumference described by Town Supervisor James E. Quigley, III as resembling Stonehenge, a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England, believed to have been constructed somewhere between 3000-2000 B.C.E.
According to Quigley, Ulster’s take on the venerable English edifice is decidedly more contemporary, seemingly having been built not by Druids nor by Native Americans, but by former town attorney Lou DiDonna.
“At 5 this evening I received a phone call from a citizen of the Town of Ulster asking me what the Ulster Town Board was going to do to protect the prehistoric stone monument that is on the site of the project,” Quigley said. “According to the tax map parcel views of the County of Ulster, the aerial views show a stone arrangement that looks like Stonehenge. So I was asked what the town is going to do to protect it. I made a commitment to check it out and call back the resident, and within 10 minutes I had three statements from two attorneys and a former town supervisor, who all had personal knowledge, that the structure was constructed approximately 60 years ago by the property owner as a park to take his girlfriend to. I state this because I want it clear that there is no historic structure there.”
Quigley said the initial approval process for the proposed retail project included a review of the state’s historic structure database, which does not include anything of note on the property. Still, the town board agreed to hire an archaeologist from SUNY New Paltz to review the structure, though it was unclear how much it might cost. Quigley said he expected it wouldn’t amount to much.
“I can’t believe it’s more than two hours’ worth of his time to come up … take a look at it and write a report,” Quigley said.