Catskill Park signs to get design makeover

By Jay Braman Jr.
Driving through the Catskill or Adirondack mountain parks, it’s easy to notice that all the road signs are a different color scheme than anywhere else in the state. But now those fairly new brown and yellow signs must come down and be replaced with brown and white ones. That’s according to the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT), working under marching orders from Washington.
“The Federal Highway Works Administration sets the standards for highways, and those standards are contained in a document, the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD),” notes New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Natural Resources Supervisor Bill Rudge.
“The manual allows for certain color combinations, prescribing specific colors for certain purposes, such as emergency services. A lot of science has gone into this. The MUTCD does not allow for the yellow-on-brown color scheme.”
According to Rudge, the idea of colors in signs comes down to studies charting psychological reactions to various color combinations. The brown and yellow combo, he said, “doesn’t provide the contrast that would allow motorists to make decisions in an optimum amount of time.”
Rudge said that DOT agreed to make a presentation to municipal leaders in the Catskills, which occurred earlier this year at Belleayre Mountain. The group reached consensus to transition to a white-on-brown color scheme.
But then there was another idea: How about a Catskill Park graphic on the signs?
Since that meeting a smaller group of community representatives, working with graphic designers, developed an image to be used on these signs.
That image is being described as incorporating mountains and the sun. It will not be the image on the Catskill Park signs seen around Delaware, Ulster, Greene, Schoharie and Sullivan county areas which host the park. That image, once jokingly described as looking like the silhouette of an alligator, may or may not continue to be used to identify to the park’s borders.
Central Catskills Collaborative spokesman Peter Manning said Tuesday that the collaborative has been very involved in the development of the graphic.
“That symbol was arrived at by a sub group of the people who were at the Belleayre meeting with DOT,” he said.
The collaborative represents a group of seven communities along the Route 28 Corridor who are developing a Corridor Management Plan, a requirement in the Scenic Byway nomination process.” The 50-mile section of Route 28 wends its way from West Hurley in Ulster County to the hamlet of Andes in Delaware County. The project is supported by a grant from the Catskill Watershed Corporation with assistance from The Catskill Center for Conserv-ation and Development in Arkville where Manning works.
Manning said that the logo, however, is not mandatory. Yes. All those brown and yellow signs must go, but the new brown and white ones do not need the logo. Both Manning and Rudge say that it remains unclear where the funding for even just the color change will come from, though several federal and state sources are possible and are being investigated, but it may fall on local governments to pay for the inclusion of that logo.
For the time being, it looks like the DOT will pay for the logo on signs along state-owned Route 28. Manning hopes this will “make a splash” and excite community leaders about the logo. The Collaborative, he said, is in a position to get some grant funding to pay for the logo on local signage, but given the current economic woes in the state, it is hard to say for sure.