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Work continues at state park

WATKINS GLEN--Work is ahead of schedule in Watkins Glen for the state park upgrade project.
Fred Bonn, Finger Lakes State Parks regional director, said Thursday, April 13 he is pleased so far with the park's $6.5 million construction. Bonn said, "Everyone understands the significance to the village, it is a priority project."
When complete, the park's new entrance will include a grassy park and room for pedestrians to stroll as they come and go from the trails. Parking is being relocated to across the street from the entrance. Those lots are expected to be ready soon.
A new building for the park, still under construction, is the welcome center. The older visitor's center will be functional on opening day. It is being expanded and will include more concession space.
Current construction activity includes blacktopping of the parking lot and paving on 10th Street, Bonn said. Crews are pouring walls for the welcome center. They are also setting steel for the park concession building. The traffic light has been moved over the 10th Street intersection and crews are working to make it functional.
"It is important we have the park open and ready for the season," said Bonn. "We are shooting for May 20, as usual. At that time the gorge trail, restrooms and gift shop will be open."
Work will continue through the summer with the majority of renovation work expected to be finished by the end of this year with final touches including landscaping to be completed in 2018.
The Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce published an update of the park project on Friday, April 14. Some of the highlights from the chamber email includes:
• The Main Entrance to the Gorge Trail is expected to open May 20. By this time, visitors can also expect to see the traffic light at the current main entrance to the park removed and a new light installed at the intersection of Route 14/North Franklin Street and 10th Street.
• New crosswalks will be installed with signals to facilitate pedestrians and park visitors crossing the street at Route 14/North Franklin and 10th Street. Visitors and locals alike are reminded to use caution and stay aware as this new traffic/pedestrian pattern emerges.
• The majority of parking for the Main Entrance to the Gorge Trail (as well as to the visitor center, restrooms and gift shop) will be in the 10th Street parking lot. This lot will be "pay and display" and available no later than May 20. Visitors are encouraged to begin using it as soon as it opens.
• A relatively small number of parking spaces will remain on the park-side of Route 14/North Franklin Street but the entrance to this lot will be off Pine Street, with the exit for this lot onto Route 14/North Franklin Street at the light aligned with 10th Street.
• Renovations to the restrooms will also be completed and ready for the May 20 opening date.
• Later this fall, finish work will take place including trim, networking cables, sidewalks and more.
• The majority of renovation work is expected to be finished the end of this year with finishing touches (such as landscaping) to come in 2018.
• Project costs associated with renovations are being funded by Governor Cuomo's Parks 2020 initiative.

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