WESTFIELD – A vacant car dealership will soon be the site of what Westfield officials and others hope will be a major asset to the region.
Construction on the Concord Grape Discovery Center, at the site of the former Sherman Ford building on Route 20, has begun according to Helen Baran, a Westfield resident who has been influential in planning the project. Last week, workers from Dewittville-based G.L. Olson, Inc. were busy removing the large, glass windows from the building and working on other parts of the project.
“This is a renovation of the building,” said Dave Momberger, the project’s building committee chair. “Right now what people are going to be seeing is just the demolition phases. There’s some exterior renovation work that is going to happen, and a bunch of interior work will follow.”
Momberger said phase 1 of the project, which was funded by a grant from state Sen. Cathy Young, R-Olean, will hopefully be completed this spring.
Phase 2, Momberger said, would consist of furnishing the exterior of the building, including adding exhibits, retail spots and wine tasting opportunities. Momberger said there is no firm schedule on when the phase will be completed, adding individuals are working on obtaining grants and holding private fundraisers to help further fund the project.
“We’re encouraged by the progress and we’ve got a ways to go,” Momberger said. “It’s how much momentum we can continue to carry to finish it off, and that will determine our future schedule for this. We think we have the momentum.”
Town of Westfield officials are also excited about the center. Martha Bills, Town of Westfield supervisor, said the attraction would hopefully draw people to the region.
“I’m very happy they chose to have this here in Westfield – the heart of the Concord grape belt – and I think it will be great benefit to the whole region and people in Westfield,” she said. “It’s always been a dream to have a center. They’ve talked about it over the years. I’m excited about it. I think it will be a great addition to this area.”
According to information provided by Momberger, the Discovery Center is a project which has been spearheaded by the Concord Grape Belt Heritage Association, a group of individuals and businesses who are associated with the area’s grape belt. Inside the attraction, there will be a grape learning center featuring multiple exhibits and displays; a media room showing educational videos and other materials; and a gift shop and snack bar featuring local, grape-based foods. There will also be vineyard tours available to the center’s visitors.
“Having a building out there with activities going on begins to raise interest,” Momberger said. “In general, there’s a lot of interest in this county and this grape belt.”
Mrs. Baran said she hopes the site will be a popular and busy attraction.
“The Discovery Center will also be able to showcase the other areas of the region and activities that will interest the many people that stop to tour this new center,” she said. “It is anticipated that the Concord Grape Belt area – from Silver Creek to Harborcreek – will become a popular and busy attraction.”
For additional information about the project, or to donate money to the cause, visit www.concordgrapebelt.org/fundraisingdrive.
Construction on Phase 1 of the Concord Grape Belt Discovery Center, located at the former Sherman Ford car dealership in Westfield, has begun.