Graffiti mars Hawk’s Nest

Hawk’s Nest visitors blamed for profusion of spray paint over ledges

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  • Graffiti covers one of the lookouts (Photos by Anya Tikka)

  • Graffiti found at Hawk’s Nest, located on Route 97 outside of Port Jervis, N.Y.

  • Enjoy the view, leave the paint cans home.

“It’s a challenge for our maintenance crew."
Gina Disarro, New York State Department of Transportation

By Anya Tikka

— Immortality, it seems, can be achieved by spray painting one’s moniker all over the magnificent ledges rising from the Hawk’s Nest.

There’s always been graffiti on this famous stretch of the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway, just across from Millrift. The mountainside-hugging road, with its overlooks taking in sweeping views of the Delaware River, attracts many visitors, especially during the summer. Its beauty has often been documented on film, including recent “Dr. Strange” and many automotive commercials, including for Volvo cars and Triumph motorcycles so far this season, hanging up commuters who are told to expect delays.

Still, the defacement continues.

The Deerpark supervisor’s secretary, Danielle Glynn, said the town is aware of the problem and has increased police patrols. But since the graffiti usually happens late at night or early hours of the morning, she said, it’s difficult to catch those responsible.

“Kids and visitors to the area,” she speculated as to who the culprits might be.

Route 97 is a state road, so maintenance and cleanup are the state’s responsibility.

“It’s a challenge for our maintenance crew,” said Gina Disarro, public Information liaison for the New York State Department of Transportation.

The crew under contract to keep the ledges clean keeps going back because the graffiti tends to reappear quickly, she said.

How the graffiti is cleaned depends on how severe it is. Sometimes it’s simply painted over. At other times the maintenance crew sandblasts the rocks.

Route 97 and Hawk’s Nest are scenic roads that bring tourists and business to the area. They have received much attention lately, and not only from film crews.

USA Today includes the scenic byway along the Upper Delaware as one of its 10 best fall foliage rides. And National Geographic includes the byway in its designation of the Upper Delaware in its geotourism guides. So isn’t it important that the place stay clean?

Disarro laughed and gave the same answer as Glynn, pointing out the irony that it’s mostly the visitors themselves who are both attracted to the ledges and mar them with graffiti. Patrolling is a police issue, she said.

Glynn said the town has a working relationship with the Upper Delaware Council and National Park Service, who are also aware of the situation.

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