Watkins Glen Mayor provides update for on-going Clute Park construction

Local News

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (WETM) – Watkins Glen Mayor Luke Leszyk has released a letter explaining the ongoing construction at Clute Park as the Memorial Day weekend draws closer.

According to the mayor, three separate projects were purposely set into motion simultaneously to reduce disruption at the park and complete the projects in a timely manner. In August 2020 the project was estimated to be completed by May.

Major renovations have been planned for the park thanks to the village’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award, about half of which has been dedicated to Clute Park.

In the letter released online, Leszyk says many of the on-going projects should be completed in the next couple of weeks.

Updates to well heads owned by Cargill, which pump brine water from below the lake into the plant, are expected to be done within the next couple of weeks. The Village also had to remove and replace three trees that had died and became “an extreme hazard.”

The major project that continues is the year-round event center, which received more than $2 million worth of funding through the DRI grant. The project includes recreation improvements such as the ice rink/splash pad, bathhouse, and improvements to lighting, parking, landscaping, signage, and entrance.

Construction on the structure, as well as landscaping and planting of 49 new trees, will continue through June, according to Leszyk.

An additional $1,034,565 was awarded through the DRI to improve East 4th Street for pedestrians and cyclists, and improve the connection between Downtown and Clute Park. Improvements will include wider sidewalks; landscaped median and additional landscaping; and pedestrian-activated crossing at Boat Launch Road.

Leszyk’s full letter can be read below:

I know that many are wondering what is going on down at our park and probably are not too
happy. I know it does not look pretty right now, but I promise it will not stay this way. As you
probably are not aware that there are three separate projects going on simultaneously and this
was done on purpose. The thought process was that each project was going to be disruptive to
the park so let’s get them all done and have our park back to normal.

First off Cargill is running new brine lines through the park. As some may not be aware Cargill
owns the property where our community center and camp ground is located and they have
lifetime use of our lakeside park. Those small building that looks like small sheds that you see
about the park are actually well heads that pump brine water from far below the lake and send
this to the plant to be processed. This is updating that needed to be done and they will be done
within the next couple weeks.

The second phase is the taking down of several trees in the park. We had 15 very large trees
that were completely dead in the park. I am unsure what caused their death but they no longer
had leaves and were shedding bark. These trees were becoming an extreme hazard as they
were starting to drop large limbs that could cause serious harm to someone. We are going to
plant 3 trees to every one that we have taken down. The planting of the trees will be
happening in about a week.

The third project is the new event center, bath house, ice rink and splash pad. As most know
the last phase of any project is the landscaping. Right now there is still construction going on
and heavy equipment moving about. The landscaping and replanting will begin the first of
June. Along with grass reseeding, we are putting in 32 canopy trees, 5 ornamental trees that
will be 10 to 12 feet high and 12 conifer trees for a total of 49 trees in that area.

I for one, understand some people’s frustration and concern for the park. I am a firm
believer that you leave something better than how you found it. When all these projects are
completed and we see the results there will be a better understanding and I hope you are
impressed. It wasn’t that long ago that we put in a kayak launch and some said that it was not a
good idea and no one will use it. Good luck finding a parking spot there in the summer. I hope
this answer some of the question that the public has and thank you for your patients.

Sincerely,
Luke Leszyk
Village of Watkins Glen Mayor

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