TOWN OF WALLKILL — A town with a “history that was never really defined” now has a wall to remember those who influenced its 64 square miles.
Three of several members of an ad hoc committee, charged with selecting people and businesses to be featured on a Citizen’s Memorial Wall, walked through the new Town of Wallkill Citizen’s Memorial Park with a reporter to reminisce on the area’s history and the more than 50 subjects featured on two sides of six slabs of stone.
A grand opening for the park will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday.
“This is just a start,” said Thomas Nosworthy, second assistant town historian. “We haven’t even scratched the surface,” added Harold Card, a 58-year town resident who donated the land the park now sits on.
Along with Supervisor Edward Diana, who is featured on the wall, Card and Nosworthy toured the grounds, which is also home to a wishing stone, an Inukshuk, a labyrinth, and the town’s oldest cemetery, Pine Hill, that dates back to 1820.
"Outstanding citizens" on the wall are defined on a plaque at the memorial’s entrance as those “who have unselfishly devoted much time, creative thought, enthusiastic energy and positive action to benefit our community.”
It was difficult to narrow down who deserved a place on the wall, Card said. They had to omit some because “they deserve it, but they’ve slipped through.” But there’s still time, and plenty of space, to add more stones for more names in the future, he said.
Card donated the land used for the park on VanBurenville Road more than a decade ago to the town, he said. It’s where his late wife, Kathleen, used to ride horses in woods that he recalled were like “a jungle.”
The Cards bought their home on 23 acres in 1961. During the tour, he often spoke about his home’s former residents, like J.M. Horton, a man who owned the 14-room home in the late nineteenth century and made his fortune on ice cream, or how nearly two centuries ago the home was actually a tavern.
The town is mulling the idea of using Card’s home as a museum, and keeping the 20-plus acres of property evergreen, Diana said. With a $50,000 grant in the town’s back pocket for a dog park, Card’s property is a location the town is also exploring.
Big plans are in the works, but for now, townspeople can walk through the park and face the town’s history in one of its most historic spots.