This year MuralFest is along the Chenango River Trail at Cheri Lindsey Park on the Northside of Binghamton. Early in the planning there was some grousing from some folks who wanted Mural Fest to stay downtown, but if you are painting murals you have to go where you can paint—in this case, the rear of the Binghamton Plaza and the buildings at Cheri Lindsey Park. And, organizers of the Mural Fest felt that the Northside neighborhood deserved some attention. Much of the ongoing blight project, where original mural art on panels are placed on boarded up properties, were placed on buildings on the Northside.
There are several routes to get to Cheri Lindsey Park, going behind Binghamton Plaza, down Truesdell St. off Chenango St., or… taking a walk down the Chenango River Trail. This route will delight long term Binghamton residents and newcomers alike. The River Trail technically starts on the Southside at the Park Diner to the Washington St. Bridge but its real beauty is revealed at the Confluence as it follows the Chenango River, past Court Street, along the MLK Promenade to the East Clinton St. Bridge. Then it takes a jog down Water St. past Tech Works (a museum that preserves our industrial heritage) to a parking area along the flood wall.
From here it is a beautiful 10 minute walk to Cheri Lindsey Park and the Bark Park for dogs. On a recent walk along the trail, we saw an elegant white egret, a Great Blue Heron, and of course the usual charming gaggle of geese in the river. The Chenango widens at this point and a giant oak spreads out over the edge of the water. Wild flowers are abundant, Mullein, Joe Pye Weed, and a variety of Monarda that even my naturalist guide/pal had never seen.
The scene on the riverside is bucolic and enchanting in a way that is unexpected in the city; the opposite side, that backside of businesses and the Binghamton Plaza is less than inspiring, which is why the mural project for one of these walls is so important. But, even on this side, there have been some landscaping efforts that distract from the urban sprawl. Trees, bushes, and walkways create a pleasant walk which will only get better over time as the plantings mature. (DPA’s own Mark Bowers had a big hand in this Trail when he was a planner at the Dept. of Transportation.)
Mural Fest 2016 is Saturday, September 17th 11 am- 4 pm and there will be murals to be painted, as well as other art activities for all ages. You can get there by car or bus, but consider a walk, a run, a bike ride, or a skateboard trip down the Chenango River Trail. You won’t regret it.
Photo: Monarda Citriodora