New signs welcome travelers to Watkins Glen

Feb 22, 2024 at 11:54 am by Observer-Review

Watkins Glen Mayor Laurie DeNardo
By Karen Gadiel
Whichever direction you take coming into—or leaving—Watkins Glen, you’ve likely noticed new masonry, the occasional piece of large machinery, and people working in all weather, sometimes under a tent of plastic sheeting to cut the wind. The construction began looking modest, then grew to something more monumental as a stone facing, similar to the stonework seen at Watkins Glen State Park was added, then the sub-structure for sculpted sailboats added atop most of the signs.
As of last weekend, the four signs at the gateways to the village of Watkins Glen have been mostly completed. There’s one at the south end of the village, opposite the TOPS plaza. Another sits at the foot of 414 South in front of H&R Block, across from Holy Cow—this one does not have sailboats. A third is above Captain Bill’s on Route 14, while another has pride of place opposite Clute Park at the east end of Fourth Street, where Routes 79 and 414 enter Watkins Glen.
An official ribbon cutting for the signs will happen later in the season.
This is another project from Watkins Glen’s seven-year Downtown Revitalization Initiative, paid with $10 million in grant money awarded in 2018 after years of planning. The local planning committee, co-chaired by Judy McKinney-Cherry, executive director of Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development and Mayor Laurie DeNardo who was at that time a village trustee. DeNardo was named co-chair of the DRI by the state and was also one of the five individuals who presented a proposal to New York state and won the competition.
The award was used to fund numerous public projects including the Clute Park ice rink and event center, a new bath house, new street lights and upgrades to Lafayette Park. There were a few private projects as well like the new Captain Bill’s and improvements to the former VFW building in partnership with the Harbor Hotel. Housing projects were also among the additions.
The signs were designed by Ryan Kovac of the Ithaca firm Trowbridge Wolf Michaels - A Fisher Associates Landscape Architecture Studio. Kovac said he was unable to comment on the design or the design process.
Says Mayor DeNardo, “Lafayette Park improvements, as well as the four new gateway signs, are the final public projects from the NYS Downtown Revitalization Initiative. We are grateful for the hard work of the LPC, the community engagement and the award from Governor Hochul. The DRI has enhanced our downtown and the projects will be gratifying well into the future.”
Sections: NEWS 1