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Orleans County

Orleans interested in shared jail someday with Genesee

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 December 2016 at 12:20 pm
File Photo by Tom Rivers: The Orleans County Jail, built in 1970, may not be a long-term answer for housing inmates.

File Photo by Tom Rivers: The Orleans County Jail, built in 1970, may not be a long-term answer for housing inmates.

ALBION – Orleans County officials want to talk about a shared jail with Genesee County.

The project would be several years away, but David Callard, Orleans County Legislature chairman, wants to get started with looking at a regional jail.

Both counties may need upgraded jail facilities in the future. The state Commission on Corrections was pressing Orleans for a new jail, but has allowed the county to keep using the existing jail after Orleans spent about $1 million in 2013 for a new roof, boiler system, and a series of energy efficiency improvements, including new caulking around about 100 windows and also on the seams of the building.

The state however isn’t allowing the county to exceed the 82-inmate capacity. The county for many years was given a waiver to accommodate a bigger jail population on the weekends.

With no waiver, the county is boarding out some inmates, and also isn’t accepting inmates from other counties if the capacity tops 82 inmates.

That issue has cost the county about $350,000 in lost revenue this year, Callard said Monday during a county budget hearing.

Genesee is interested in an expanded and updated jail. Callard said the two counties should look at a joint project.

Orleans wants to work with Genesee on a study to see how a shared jail would be run and where it could be best located. The two counties would need State Legislature approval for a shared facility. The state law currently requires each county to have its own jail.

Callard said the two counties have already been trailblazers for shared services. They run a health department with a shared director and some shared staff, as well as a joint board of directors for the Board of Public Health. Orleans and Genesee are the only counties in New York, and one of just 16 in the country, with a shared health department, Callard said.

That example and experience of the two counties working together may help Orleans and Genesee overcome barriers to a shared jail.

Callard said Orleans is reaching out to Genesee officials to first pursue a study of the new jail.

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Hearing this evening on county’s $65.6 million budget

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 November 2016 at 9:17 am

ALBION – Orleans County legislators will take comments from the public this evening on a proposed $65,614,624 budget. The financial plan increases overall spending by 1.8 percent.

The tentative budget would reduce the tax rate by 3 cents to $9.86 per $1,000 of assessed property. However, the county would take in 2.5 percent more in taxes, up $405,260 to $16,728,410. The 2.5 percent increase remains under the tax cap because the county was under it in recent years and can carry over that difference.

The tax rate will go down slightly because total assessed value in the county grew 2.8 percent from $1.650 billion to $1.696 billion.

The public hearing will be at 7 p.m. today at the Orleans County Courthouse.

The County Legislature has scheduled a meeting for Monday, Dec. 5, at 9:30 a.m. at the Orleans County Legislative Chambers, 3 South Main St., Suite 2, Albion.

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Picture of Mount Albion wins Orleans Tourism’s photo contest

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 November 2016 at 8:19 am

112616_mtalbion

ALBION – Peggy Barringer of Albion won the 2016 Orleans County Tourism Photo Contest with her entry, “Springtime at Mount Albion Cemetery.”

Barringer wins 2 tickets to Sunday’s Buffalo Bills game with the Jacksonville Jaguars at Orchard Park.

Photographers were invited to send in photos of Orleans County with a “tourism-draw” subject matter such as recreation, heritage, nature, annual event or tourist attraction.

“We thank the participants for submitting images from around Orleans County and encourage everyone to continue snapping away as we will likely be announcing more photo contests in the future!” Tourism Coordinator Lynne Menz announced Friday on the Tourism Facebook page.

To see the honorable mentions, click here.

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Fewer DWIs in latest stepped-up patrol by local law enforcement

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 November 2016 at 10:01 am

There were fewer driving while intoxicated arrests in the latest DWI saturation patrol by law enforcement agencies in Orleans County.

The Albion Police Department hosted a multi-agency DWI saturation patrol from 9 p.m. on Nov. 23 to 3:30 a.m. on Nov. 24. Three people were arrested for DWI, a 40 percent drop from the five arrested a year before.

“This is positive news in our efforts to reduce accidents caused by intoxicated drivers,” said Roland Nenni, police chief for Albion and Holley. He supervised the multi-agency DWI patrol.

“The reduction of DWI arrests is a positive and motivating factor when these types of details are conducted,” he said. “Many believe that law enforcement wants to make more DWI arrests during these details, however we like to see the opposite. Law enforcement stopped many people and found the overwhelming majority to be responsible and not under the influence of alcohol.”

This detail combined the efforts from every law enforcement agency in Orleans County. The agencies involved consisted of the Albion Police Department, Medina PD, Holley PD, Orleans County Sheriff’s Office, New York State Police, Orleans County Probation, and New York State Parole.

The detail results are as follows:

DWI arrests: 3 – 1 in Holley (Holley PD), 1 in Medina (Medina PD) and 1 in the Town of Ridgeway (State Police).

Traffic stops: 118.

Tickets issued: 18.

Agency breakdown:

• Albion PD – 54 stops, 1 Aggravated Unlicensed Operation 2nd, 2 Aggravated Unlicensed Operation 3rd, 3 Suspended Registrations, 1 Unlicensed Operation 1- Operating Without Insurance, 1 License Plate Lamp Violation.

• Medina PD – 24 stops, 1 DWI arrest, 1 headlight violation.

• Holley PD – 18 stops, 1 DWI arrest, 1 Unlawful Possession of Marijuana Arrest, 1 Uninspected Motor Vehicle, 1 Fail to Keep Right Violation.

• NY State Police – 15 stops, 1 DWI arrest, 1 Unlawful Possession of Marijuana.

• Orleans County Sheriff’s Office – 7 stops.

This is the third year with a saturation patrol in Orleans County. Compared to last year, there was a 70 percent increase in vehicle stops.

“The data from this year’s detail indicates that less than 3 percent of the motorists stopped were intoxicated, whereas in previous years we have seen data as high as 20 percent of the motorists stopped were intoxicated,” Nenni said.

Each law enforcement agency had officers assigned to the detail in their respective jurisdictions, as well as officers doing their normal working patrol. There was a briefing at the Albion PD, and the officers then returned to their respective jurisdictions with the Albion PD assisting each agency with logistical and operational support.

“Intoxicated drivers do not follow jurisdictional lines, so we decided that we would not either,” Nenni said. “The Albion Police Department and its partners are planning similar details for the future. We will continue to use every resource and tool available to create a reduction in offenders and arrest those who continue to endanger others by driving while intoxicated.”

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Another group graduates from small business training program

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 November 2016 at 8:43 am

ALBION – Another group of entrepreneurs has graduated from the Microenterprise Assistance Program, a 10-week class that gives small business owners tips in marketing, handling stress, computers, legal issues, bookkeeping and taxes – all factors that are key to running successful businesses. They also must complete a business plan.

The Orleans Economic Development Agency has run the program since 1999 and nearly 450 people have completed the program.

The graduates are now eligible to seek low-interest financing for up to $30,000 from the Orleans EDA. The EDA also is offering downtown rental subsidies – $3 per per square foot annually – for entrepreneurs to move into the downtown business districts in Albion, Holley, Lyndonville and Medina.

The EDA is capping the rental subsidies at $4,500 a year, the maximum for a 1,500 square foot space.

The EDA also has $100,000 in grants to share with small businesses (5 or fewer employees) that need working capital, equipment purchases or inventory. The grants are capped at $15,000 per recipient.

The new graduates held their classes at The Orleans Business Center at the Arnold Gregory Memorial Complex in Albion. There was a graduation program last week at The Village Inn.

The following are the newest graduates of MAP:

Anna Cichocki, Holistic Wellness Center; Wendy Moriarty, Lamp Refurbishing; Andy Hendel, Andy Hendel Farms; Joy Beth, Fit Body Bootcamp Franchise; James Preston, Preston’s Farm; Michael LaVoice, Into The Enigma LLC; Sharon Houseknecht, Holistic Practitioner; Jonas Trapiss, Distinct Vinyl & More; Shawn Ramsey, Canal Side Tattoo; Andriy Basisty, Holley Bottle & Can Returns; Robert Smith, For the Games; Kylie Hughson, Teasers Hair Salon; Jamie Beadle, Biotic Bliss Soil Company; and Julie Zicari.

The EDA is preparing for the spring class which starts in April. There are spots available. Contact Diane Blanchard, MAP manager, at (585) 589-7060.

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Orleans ranks last in visitor spending among all counties in NY

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 November 2016 at 8:29 am
Photo by Tom Rivers: The St. Mary’s Archer’s Club on the Oak Orchard River in Carlton attracts many out-of-state fishermen each fall. This group is pictured on Oct. 29, 2015. Fishing is the county's leading tourism draw, accounting for about half of the $24 million total.

Photo by Tom Rivers: The St. Mary’s Archer’s Club on the Oak Orchard River in Carlton attracts many out-of-state fishermen each fall. This group is pictured on Oct. 29, 2015. Fishing is the county’s leading tourism draw, accounting for about half of the $24 million total.

ALBION – Tourism is big business in New York State, generating $63.1 billion in visitor spending in 2015.

Many counties, including some small ones, bring in well over $100 million in tourism revenue. But no county brings in less than Orleans, which totaled $24.421 million in visitor spending in 2015. That is dead-last among the 62 counties in New York State, and about $4 million less than the 61st-ranked county, Chenango, at $28.455 million, according to a report by Tourism Economics and Empire State Development.

Orleans County certainly has assets with Lake Ontario, the Erie Canal, numerous historical sites and community festivals and events.

The county is hurt by not having an established chain hotel. That limits many visitors to day trips where they don’t stay overnight, minimizing some of their economic impact.

The Orleans Economic Development Agency has been reaching out to hotel providers, and is hopeful a new chain, Cobblestone Inn and Suites, will commit to a site in Medina. The EDA commissioned a study by Interim Hospitality Consultants, and that report concluded Medina could support a small hotel with 41 to 49 rooms.

Jim Whipple, the chief executive officer of the Orleans EDA, said investors haven’t committed to the Medina project yet. The EDA razed a house next to the new Pride Pak on Maple Ridge Road and installed infrastructure to make the site more attractive for developers.

Batavia is home to several chain hotels, including the Quality Inn & Suites. Genesee County has about 1,000 hotel rooms.

Batavia is home to several chain hotels, including the Quality Inn & Suites. Genesee County has about 1,000 hotel rooms.

If a chain hotel comes to Orleans it would help capture more visitor spending, and also boost the “bed tax” leading to more money for marketing the county.

The bed tax raises about $35,000 annually to promote tourism in Orleans County. That 4 percent tax is charged by motels, bed and breakfasts, vacation rentals and lodges.

In neighboring Genesee County, there are nearly 1,000 hotel rooms along the Thruway corridor. They generate more than $400,000 a year to promote tourism, drawing more visitor spending to Genesee, where direct tourism spending totaled $93.360 million in 2015.

The counties are similar in size: Orleans County had 42,883 residents in 2010 while Genesee counted 60,079. Chenango, which is just above Orleans in tourism impact, had 50,478 people in 2010. Chenango, in its tourism promotions, boasts of an “idyllic rural quality lifestyle.”

Orleans County, in its promotions, urges visitors to: “Discover the charm as you cruise along our country byways and scenic waterways while experiencing our rich history, rural culture and exhilarating outdoor fun. Don’t forget to stop in at our bountiful farm markets, charming gift shops and unique museums along the Erie Canal, Historic Ridge Road and the Seaway Trail.” (Click here to see the county’s tourism website.)

Orleans has made one recent change to boost its focus on tourism. For many years, tourism was part of the Planning Department. The county now contracts with Lynne Menz for tourism services. She runs the tourism website, and also handles print promotions for the county. (Many other counties, such as Genesee, contract with the Chamber of Commerce to promote tourism, and the tourism officials work out of the Chamber. In Orleans, Menz works out of the County Administration Building.)

The county also secured a grant for a study of assets and opportunities along the 25 miles of Lake Ontario shoreline in the towns of Yates, Carlton and Kendall. Representatives from those three towns and the county are working to update a plan to better capitalize on the lake.

“I think Lake Ontario could be a bigger driver,” said David Callard, chairman of the Orleans County Legislature. “We’re looking to enhance it.”

The state is also planning to pave some sections of the Lake Ontario State Parkway, from Route 237 in Kendall headed east. The deteriorated condition of the Parkway has discouraged many motorists, especially those with RVs, from using the road.

Fishing is the county’s leading tourism draw, accounting for about $12 million in direct visitor spending or about half of the county’s total tourism spending. Callard thinks fishing could bring in more money, especially with amenities in place for wives and children of many of the anglers.

Fourth-graders from School No. 2 in Rochester visit the Urger, a historic tugboat, on Oct. 7, 2015 when the vessel was in Holley.

Fourth-graders from School No. 2 in Rochester visit the Urger, a historic tugboat, on Oct. 7, 2015 when the vessel was in Holley.

Callard would also like to see the canal communities work together to develop a comprehensive plan for enticing more visitors to Medina, Albion, Holley and the canal hamlets.

“We have to do smelting bigger and better to attract people,” he said.

Here are how the counties rank in direct visitor spending, from lowest to highest:

• Orleans, $24.421 million; Chenango, $28.455 million; Tioga, $29.149 million; Washington, $29,935 million; Schuyler, $37.546 million; Montgomery, $39.202;

• Lewis, $39.958 million; Wayne, $40.785 million; Wyoming, $41.303 million; Livingston, $48.608 million; Seneca, $49.120 million; Schoharie, $53.807 million;

• Fulton, $54.170 million; Putnam, $59.052 million; Allegany, $61.822; Yates, $65.818 million; Cortland, $70.896 million; Hamilton, $75.688 million;

• Franklin, $82.680 million; Madison, $84.479 million; Genesee, $93.360 million; Chemung, $93.702 million; Cayuga, $97.927 million; Delaware, $98.091 million;

• Herkimer, $108.161 million; Saint Lawrence, $118.255 million; Rensselaer, $122.467 million; Clinton, $128.658 million; Steuben, $128.887 million; Columbia, $130.595 million;

• Oswego, $136.773 million; Greene, $152.087 million; Otsego, $184.976 million; Tompkins, $195.406 million; Ontario, $201.379 million; Schenectady, $208.939 million;

• Cattaraugus, $218.672 million; Jefferson, $242.190 million; Chautauqua, $258.949 million; Richmond, $261.126 million; Broome, $284.581 million; Sullivan, $388.272 million;

• Rockland, $405.781 million; Essex, $406.087 million; Orange, $458.223 million; Saratoga, $497.239 million; Dutchess, $528.333 million; Ulster, $532.727 million;

• Warren, $570.886 million; Niagara, $608.837 million; Onondaga, $854.735 million; Bronx, $857.926 million; Albany, $968.276 million; Monroe, $1.005 billion;

• Oneida, $1.308 billion; Erie, $1.676 billion; Westchester, $1.793 billion; Kings, $1.975 billion; Nassau, $2.532 billion; Suffolk, $2.951 billion; Queens, $8.308 billion; New York, $29.968 billion.

• $63.076 billion state-wide.

Source: Tourism Economics and Empire State Development

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Police officers trained in responding to people in mental health crisis

Photos by Tom Rivers: Albion police officer Nathaniel Staines is congratulated for completed the Crisis Intervention Training program today. Staines was one of 18 officers to complete the 40-hour training program. He shakes hands with Sheriff Randy Bower. Albion/Holley Police Chief Roland Nenni is at left, with Medina Police Chief Chad Kenward, center.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 November 2016 at 7:48 pm

MEDINA – This week 18 police officers in Orleans County learned strategies to help calm a crisis with people battling a mental health issue.

The state has started funding a Crisis Intervention Training Program for law enforcement officers to better understand the myriad of mental health issues, and to learn strategies to de-escalate a potentially volatile situation.

The Crisis Intervention Training Program is funded by the New State Office of Mental Health. State Sen. Robert Ortt is chairman of the Senate’s Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee. He said the training keeps police officers safer, giving them tools and strategies as first responders for people in mental health crisis.

State Sen. Robert Ortt addresses the police officers today. Ortt encouraged all police departments to be trained in responding to people with a mental health crisis.

State Sen. Robert Ortt addresses the police officers today. Ortt encouraged all police departments to be trained in responding to people with a mental health crisis.

A goal of the training is also for police to connect people in crisis with treatment, rather than jail, when appropriate.

“This helps them and it helps you,” Ortt told the officers today during a graduation program.

Ortt also attended a graduation last month when 28 police officers at Niagara Falls completed the week-long training. Ortt would like to see all police agencies be part of the training.

This week about half of the full-time police officers in Orleans County took part of the Crisis Intervention Training (CIT), with participation from the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office, Albion, Holley and Medina police departments, a state trooper, and the Park Police.

“I thank all of you for your compassion to the citizens of Orleans County when they are in emotional crisis,” said Dr. Don Kamin, a clinical psychologist and instructor in the program.

He shared many scenarios and strategies with officers to help them identify if a person if in a mental health crisis and how to lead them to accept help and not be combative.

Mark O’Brien, director of the Mental Health Department in Orleans County, said the county has stepped up mental health services. He is next to Roland Nenni and Chad Kenward. (Kenward and several of the officers are participating in no-shave November.)

Mark O’Brien, director of the Mental Health Department in Orleans County, said the county has stepped up mental health services. He is next to Roland Nenni and Chad Kenward. (Kenward and several of the officers are participating in no-shave November.)

Kamin and the instructors went over behavioral health issues such as trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder, suicide assessment and intervention, excited delirium, anxiety, emotional distress. Officers learned communication skills with a focus on de-escalating the crisis.

Bower, the county sheriff, also worked as a dispatcher for about 30 years. He said an increasing number of police calls in recent years have been for people in a mental health crisis. He said many mental health institutions have closed in recent years, putting more people who need services into the community.

Dr. Don Kamin, a clinical psychologist and instructor in the Crisis Intervention Training Program, leads a class discussion this afternoon at the Medina Fire Department’s classroom.

Dr. Don Kamin, a clinical psychologist and instructor in the Crisis Intervention Training Program, leads a class discussion this afternoon at the Medina Fire Department’s classroom.

The Orleans County police agencies will have another one-day training on Dec. 8 for additional officers to receive Crisis Intervention Training.

Albion Police Chief Roland Nenni said the trained officers can cross jurisdictional lines to help in crisis situations.

Mark O’Brien, director of the Mental Health Department in Orleans County, praised the officers for taking the training this week. For some of the officers, the 8 hours of training each day may have preceded or followed a full shift as a patrolman or investigator.

O’Brien said the county has stepped up its community-based mental health services, with satellite programs in all five school districts. There also are mental health services now available for inmates in the jail.

“This will help the community,” Bower said about the training and mental health outreach.

Orleans County Sheriff Randy Bower takes a photo of the group of 18 officers who earned certificates of completion for a 40-hour class about responding to people having a mental health crisis.

Orleans County Sheriff Randy Bower takes a photo of the group of 18 officers who earned certificates of completion for a 40-hour class about responding to people having a mental health crisis.

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County budget gives some agencies an increase in funding

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 November 2016 at 9:03 am

Libraries stay the same, Cobblestone Museum remains out of budget

Photos by Tom Rivers: Jennifer Gray, a chalk artist and director of the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council, works on a chalk art creation of the Statue of Liberty and an American flag on May 27 by the Albion Middle School. The Arts Council requested a funding boost from the county from $3,000 to $5,500. The tentative budget keeps the funding at $3,000.

Photos by Tom Rivers: Jennifer Gray, a chalk artist and director of the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council, works on a chalk art creation of the Statue of Liberty and an American flag on May 27 by the Albion Middle School. The Arts Council requested a funding boost from the county from $3,000 to $5,500. The tentative budget keeps the funding at $3,000.

ALBION – The tentative Orleans County budget gives funding increases to some agencies, while keeping the libraries unchanged.

The budget also doesn’t provide funding for the Cobblestone Museum, despite a request from the museum for some support from the county.

“We looked at them all on a case by case basis as we perceived the overall need,” said David Callard, the Orleans County Legislature chairman. “It varied among the organizations.”

Callard said the county has upped funding for some agencies in recent years, but is constrained because of the state-imposed tax cap.

For three years, from 2012 to 2014, the agencies were all frozen in their county contributions. That was when the county was feeling the burden of deficits from the county nursing home.

That facility became privately owned in 2015. Once it was out of the county budget, the county had a bigger cushion for infrastructure projects, and the agencies.

Here is a snapshot of how the county has contributed to different agencies since 2012:

• The Cornell Cooperative Extension went from $219,150 in 2012-14, to $225,000 in 2015, $232,500 in 2016, and to a tentative $240,000 in 2017. The agency requested $275,000 next year.

• The Orleans Economic Development Agency was at $150,000 in 2012-14, and then went to $170,000 in 2015, $166,500 in 2016, and $170,000 in 2017. The $170,000 is what the agency requested for next year. The EDA generates some of its own funds through fees for local projects.

• The Soil and Water Conservation District was funded at $57,750 in 2012-14, and then went to $75,000 in 2015, $77,500 in 2016 and to a tentative $80,000 in 2017. Soil and Water requested $90,000 next year.

• The four public libraries in Albion, Holley, Lyndonville and Medina collectively receive $10,000, the funding level since at least 2012. They requested $1 per county resident or $42,883.

County legislators in the past have said the libraries have the option of collecting taxes to raise their own funds, which isn’t an option for the other agencies.

“We feel it’s an important to at least maintain a level of support for the libraries,” Callard said. “We haven’t forsaken them.”

• The county provided $1,000 a year to the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts in 2012-14, and increased that to $3,000 in 2015 and 2016. The Arts Council requested $5,500 in 2017. The tentative budget keeps the funding at $3,000 for 2017.

• The Sportsmen’s Federation received $500 annually from 2012-14, and was bumped up to $1,000 in 2015 and 2016. The tentative budget keeps the federation at $1,000.

101316_cobsch2

This photo shows the inside of the cobblestone schoolhouse, which was built in 1849. The school closed in 1952 and looks much like it did when it was a functioning school.

• Cobblestone Museum board members Diane Palmer and Susan Starkweather-Miller asked legislators in September for county funding for the museum, the only National Historic Landmark in Orleans County. The museum includes seven historic buildings, as well as outhouses and other important community artifacts.

Callard said he favored some county support for the museum, but the seven-member Legislature didn’t reach that consensus.

Neighboring Genesee County also has a National Historic Landmark with the Holland Land Office Museum. Genesee provides $37,282 in county funding for that museum in Batavia, which is a smaller site than the Cobblestone Museum.

The Legislature will have a hearing on the $65.6 million budget at 7 p.m. on Nov. 28 at the County Courthouse in Albion, and has scheduled a Dec. 5 meeting at 9:30 a.m. in the legislative chambers of the County Clerks Building to adopt the budget.

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DOT plans ‘unprecedented’ fixes to canal bridges

Photo by Tom Rivers: The canal bridge on Bennetts Corners Road in the Town of Murray is one of seven on schedule for improvements in the next two years. The bridge has had the weight limit reduced to 4 tons.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 November 2016 at 6:39 pm

For several years Orleans County officials have been pressing the state Department of Transportation to upgrade bridges over the Erie Canal. Many of those bridges are deteriorating and have had their weight limits significantly reduced.

That limit means fire trucks, school buses, farm equipment and other larger vehicles can’t use some of the bridges and have to take longer routes to reach destinations in Orleans County.

The DOT is planning an “unprecedented” push to bolster 17 canal bridges in the region, including seven in Orleans County, DOT Regional Director Kevin Bush announced at a meeting on Monday about the Lake Ontario State Parkway, seen as another neglected part of the state’s infrastructure in Orleans County.

Bush said the state is planning $14 million in paving and improvements to the Parkway starting at Route 237 in Kendall and heading east into Monroe County.

The DOT’s capital plan for the region also includes $13 million for canal bridges in Orleans in 2017-18. Those bridges are about 100 years old.

The ones identified for improvements include Bates Road in Ridgeway, Bennetts Corners in Murray, Densmore Road in Gaines, Gaines Basin Road in Albion, Marshall Road in Ridgeway, Telegraph Road in Murray and Transit Road in Albion.

The DOT also plans major rehab work to the Main Street lift bridge in Albion as well as the lift bridge in Brockport. The work on those two lift bridges is pegged at $7.8 million in 2018-19.

There are 26 canal bridges in Orleans County and 12 have been declared “functionally obsolete.” Another six are considered “structurally deficient” by the state Department of Transportation. Two are closed – Brown Street in Albion and Hindsburg Road in Murray. The Knowlesville lift bridge is limited to one lane and 6 tons.

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Some Parkway improvements coming in 2017-18, but no plans for west of Kendall

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 November 2016 at 10:29 am
Photos by Tom Rivers: Kevin Bush, regional director for the state Department of Transportation, addresses more than 100 people at a meeting Monday evening on future paving plans for the Lake Ontario State Parkway. The meeting with State Sen. Robert Ortt and Bush was organized by the Oak Orchard Neighborhood Association. They met in the home of Gene Haines, which is located near the Parkway by Lake Ontario.

Photos by Tom Rivers: Kevin Bush, regional director for the state Department of Transportation, addresses more than 100 people at a meeting Monday evening on future paving plans for the Lake Ontario State Parkway. The meeting with State Sen. Robert Ortt and Bush was organized by the Oak Orchard Neighborhood Association. They met in the home of Gene Haines, which is located near the Parkway by Lake Ontario.

CARLTON – Some improvements are coming to the Lake Ontario State Parkway, a recreational route from Carlton to Rochester.

The Parkway is in need to maintenance, making for a bumpy ride, especially in the Hamlin area, local officials said during a meeting Monday about the future of Parkway paving.

The state has money set aside to improve the Parkway in 2017-18. Most of the $14 million is for upgrading the Parkway in Monroe County.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” said Kevin Bush, the regional director for the DOT. “This should cover the worst section.”

The Parkway paving includes $8.97 million to pave the parkway from Route 19 east to Payne Beach in 2017, and then $5.2 million to pave the Parkway from Route 19 in Hamlin to Route 237 in Kendall in 2018.

The Department of Transportation’s 5-year plan, which runs until 2020, doesn’t include paving for the Parkway west of 237 in Kendall, Bush told about 100 people on Monday evening during a meeting about the Parkway.

The Oak Orchard Neighborhood Association, which has been pressing for Parkway improvements for several years, organized the meeting with Bush and State Sen. Robert Ortt.

Provided photo by Landmark Society of WNY – Credit Richard Margolis: The Lake Ontario State Parkway runs near the lakeshore in Orleans and Monroe counties and has been in need of paving and repair in recent years.

Provided photo by Landmark Society of WNY – Credit Richard Margolis: The Lake Ontario State Parkway runs near the lakeshore in Orleans and Monroe counties and has been in need of paving and repair in recent years.

The big crowd at the home of Gene Haines impressed Ortt. He said the turnout shows the Parkway is an important issue for local residents.

“When you’re talking about tourism and bringing people to our community, no one wants to travel on a road when your car will bottom out,” Ortt said.

State Sen. Robert Ortt, right, addresses a crowd that includes State Assemblyman Steve Hawley, second from left.

State Sen. Robert Ortt, right, addresses a crowd that includes State Assemblyman Steve Hawley, second from left.

There has been shrinking dollars for paving and infrastructure projects in recent years, and Ortt said that has prompted the DOT to focus the funds on higher-use bridges and roads. That has left the Parkway with little to no maintenance funds in recent years.

The paving the next two years brings overdue investment in the Parkway, Ortt said. He is hopeful the federal government under new President Donald Trump will direct more money for infrastructure, with some of those funds addressing the Parkway west of Kendall.

“It’s your money,” Ortt said. “We’re trying to bring some of it back to improve in an important road in your community.”

The DOT also needs some leeway in prioritizing projects by use. The Parkway is low traffic, and sees less vehicles as it falls into more disrepair. Orit said it is a “downward spiral” because worsening roads get even less traffic, making them less likely to get funds for repaving.

Orleans County and the Genesee Transportation Council expect to soon start a study on the long-term future of the Parkway.

The study will look at several alternatives for the Parkway’s future, including if the west- or eastbound lanes were closed to traffic, the closed lanes could perhaps be opened as a recreational route for walkers, cyclists or snowmobilers.

Wayne Goodman, executive director of the Landmark Society of Western New York, noted how the Landmark Society recently named the Parkway to its annual “Five to Revive,” a list of sites in need of investment.

Wayne Goodman, executive director of the Landmark Society of Western New York, noted how the Landmark Society recently named the Parkway to its annual “Five to Revive,” a list of sites in need of investment.

The remaining west- or eastbound lanes would stay open to traffic with steady maintenance from the state, as a possible alternative.

The study will take an inventory of the transportation assets on the Parkway and forecast the remaining useful life of the bridges, pavement, etc., and an anticipated maintenance schedule.

The Landmark Society of Western New York also recently listed the Parkway on its list of “Five to Revive.” Wayne Goodman, executive director for the Landmark Society, said the annual list of Five to Revive tends to draw interest and often investment in neglected assets in the region.

Goodman said on Monday he favors the study to assess the assets on the Parkway and some alternatives for its future use.

“There’s a lot of unanswered questions about the Parkway and a scarcity of resources,” Goodman said.

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