Scenic overlooks in Gardiner, Rochester and Wawarsing will get a $1 million upgrade with a little help from state and federal grants.
Al Wegener, of the Shawangunk Mountains Regional Partnership, came to New Paltz Town Hall last week to announce the success in getting the grants. Federal Highway Administration funds will pay for $800,000 of project, through the National Scenic Byways Program. The rest, $200,000, will come from the state Department of Transportation as matching funds.
“What they’re going to be doing is fixing the sidewalks, plantings, kiosks and retaining walls. It’s a phenomenal, phenomenal, phenomenal project,” explained Susan Zimet, the New Paltz town supervisor.
Specifically, those overlooks are on Route 44/55 near Mohonk Preserve to the west, in Rochester to the west of Minnewaska and on Route 52 near the Sam’s Point entrance in Cragsmoor.
According to Wegener, those overlooks date back to horse and buggy days and fall seriously short of what a Shawangunk Mountains Scenic Byway visitor would probably expect. Upgrades will also include benches at the site, measures to make the sites more handicap accessible and signs to explain what people are seeing from that vantage point.
Those overlooks have good views of the Wallkill Valley, Rondout Valley and the Catskills.
Motorists will benefit from the site improvements, since the project will install more signs on 44/55 and 52 to let them now they’re approaching an overlook. The kiosks that Zimet mentioned will contain information about the Scenic Byway route and tourist hotspots nearby.
Members of the Shawangunk Mountains Regional Partnership plan to work with the state to maintain the overlooks once their retooled.