January 21, 2022

New Look and New Life for the Exit 106 Roundabout in Thompson

The finishing touches have been put on the circular area within the Exit 106 roundabout in the Town of Thompson. A beautiful new sign and thoughtful landscaping replace what was once just grass. It’s all thanks to support from Sullivan County and funding from the Sullivan Renaissance 2021 Municipal Partnership grant.

Now, thousands of drivers each day are treated to a more visually pleasing entrance from Route 17 into the Village of Monticello.

So, gather round and let’s take a closer look at the transformation of the Exit 106 roundabout.

Seeing Signs and Seizing the Opportunity for Impact

Does the bright blue sign in the center of the Exit 106 roundabout look familiar? It should. This same sign design – created by Dorene Warner of W Design and hand-crafted by Nicole Camacho of Finehand Sign – can be found on Route 42 near the Mobil station right off Exit 105.

You’ve also likely noticed an increase in Thompson signage throughout our community – not just at exits. For example, a dozen welcome banners were placed along Route 42 and other busy corridors this past summer.

This uptick in signage is intentional. The Town is on a mission to look its best – and has been since 2017 when the Grow the Gateways Strategic Plan was formally adopted by the Town and Village of Monticello.

Grow the Gateways focuses on upgrading the primary entry points into Thompson, ensuring that everything from landscaping to lighting looks great and is user-friendly. The goal is to make a positive visual impression on everyone who enters our Town.

This instills pride in residents and sparks confidence in businesses looking to invest here, all while appealing to visitors as well.

The Exit 106 roundabout was another opportunity for the Town to strengthen a key gateway into the heart of our community…

Art Was at the Start, But Practicality Prevailed

At first, the Town thought the expansive grassy area of the Exit 106 roundabout would be the perfect spot for public art. However, there are transportation guidelines in place that ensure driver safety. Nothing could be placed in the roundabout that would be distracting to drivers and the height of any object in the roundabout also had to be low enough so drivers could safely see other vehicles along the road. These guidelines really limited the public art choices.

The Town, in collaboration with Sullivan Renaissance and Sullivan County, decided that the best option would be a branded sign with the Town’s name – surrounded by landscaping. After all, the other signs had gotten positive feedback. Plus, the Exit 106 roundabout was yet another opportunity to proudly announce that drivers had entered the Town.

So, the work to transform the Exit 106 roundabout officially began in spring of 2021…

Turning a Blank Canvas Into a Welcoming Vista

The first step to making the Exit 106 roundabout a reality was getting proper permits from Sullivan County. That required the Town presenting formal design plans, and the Town knew just where to turn for assistance: Sullivan Renaissance.

The team at Sullivan Renaissance, led by horticulturist Diana Weiner, had consulted with the Town of Thompson on previous municipal design projects and jumped right in to bring the Town’s vision to life. On an early spring day, Diana and five Town employees met right in the roundabout to begin brainstorming!

Diana and the Thompson team knew there were requirements they had to meet to keep drivers safe – and they rose to the challenge.

The plan included considerations such as perennial flowers that wouldn’t grow past a certain height and interfere with a driver’s vision. It also meant accounting for issues such as plantings that did not attract deer and other wildlife that could cause collisions. Since the Town would be responsible for upkeep of the landscaping, the plan also recommended low-maintenance plants and flowers.

Working within these constraints, the team submitted five design plan mockups to Sullivan County. Later that spring, Thompson received word that three of the plans were acceptable but one was preferred– and so the buildout began.

Throughout the summer and into the early fall, all the pieces came together under the guidance of the Sullivan Renaissance plan. W Design and Fine Hand Signs first installed the brand new sign. Staff from the Town of Thompson Parks and Recreation Department carefully planted the flowers and shrubs. By the end of September, the Exit 106 roundabout was complete.

Today, as you travel into Thompson, the hope is that the bright blue sign and attractive landscaping will give you an upbeat feeling…the feeling that you’re in a place where everyone comes together for the benefit of the greater community.