Head for the mountains: Colorful jersey barriers add allure to downtown dining

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Jersey barriers protecting diners along North Main Street get a splash of paint. (Courtesy photo/City of Rochester)

ROCHESTER - Volunteers from the Rochester Museum of Fine Arts worked over the weekend to paint the jersey barriers surrounding temporary outdoor dining areas on North Main Street.

With a design conceived by artist Mike Durkee, a small group of painters executed a continuous five-color gradient mountain range and skyscape across more than 20 cement barriers.

"We worked with Durkee to create a design that would be colorful, fun, and easy for volunteers to fill in," said Amy Regan of the Rochester Museum of Fine Arts. "We are very pleased with the results. This is exactly the kind of vibrancy we need to attract more people to our downtown shops and restaurants."

The barriers were originally installed in 2020 as part of the city's response to COVID-19. At the time, the lack of indoor seating would have been detrimental to most restaurants. City staff worked to install outdoor dining options within two weeks, according to Jennifer Marsh, assistant director of Economic Development, City of Rochester.

"The option for outdoor dining was critical to the success of my restaurant over the past year," said Chef Kris Enis, owner of Fallen Leaf Bistro. "I love that the barriers were painted. It makes such a difference!"

The painting project was supported by the city's Economic Development Department. Director Michael Scala cites the success of similar projects in Nashua and Manchester.

"Jersey barriers are necessary to keep people safe while dining outdoors," said Scala. "Other cities have done similar art projects to make the barriers more attractive to residents and visitors. The art in our downtown is positively enhancing the overall visual landscape."

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