Clute Park project gets underway
WATKINS GLEN--Local, county and state officials braved a rainstorm to participate in the ceremonial groundbreaking of the $5 million Clute Park Redevelopment Project Tuesday, Aug. 4. Hosted by the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development, the groundbreaking was attended by Watkins Glen Mayor Luke Leszyk, Schuyler County Administrator Tim O'Hearn, multiple county legislators, State Senator Tom O'Mara (R), State Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R) along with several additional officials.
"Today is the culmination of a lot of years of effort and it is great to see the formal groundbreaking of this project which is really the signature of our (roughly $10 million state funding from the Downtown Revitalization Initiative)," O'Hearn said.
Held inside the old pavilion at Clute Park, roughly 35 people attended the groundbreaking and when not socially distanced those in attendance wore masks. After several speeches, the event quickly moved to the outdoors despite the pouring rain so key stakeholders could ceremonially shovel a few piles of dirt to commentate the start of construction.
With all of the funding from the project coming from the state, multiple speakers thanked Gov. Andrew Cuomo for providing the money for the project, which is designed to expand Clute Park into a year-round destination.
"I am excited to see (state, local, and county officials) who put in so much hard work into making this happen," Leszyk said. "Combining everything, all the different views and different wants, but everything still came together."
Originally started as an attempt for new bathrooms, Leszyk said he is amazed the village is getting so much done in Clute Park with state assistance. If everything weather-wise cooperates over the winter, Leszyk said he expects the park to be fully open by Memorial Day, 2021.
"I can't wait until next May when we are cutting the ribbon to reopen the park," Leszyk said.
The project includes the construction of new bathrooms, a new 6,000 square foot pavilion, a new seasonal splash pad, a seasonal ice rink for the winter and a new bathhouse. The original pavilion will remain.
"I'm thrilled at the long-term investment from New York state as we embark on the improvements to Clute Park," said Laurie DeNardo, Watkins Glen Village trustee and DRI co-chair, in a prepared statement. "This plan retains the park's unique character, provides year-round family-oriented enjoyment, and evolved from our community for our community for years to come."
"This project will continue to enhance the village of Watkins Glen and increase its reputation as (a) vibrant community," said Fred Bonn, regional director for Finger Lakes State Parks in a statement.