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Canal delays tree-clearing in 3 Monroe towns after outcry

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 December 2017 at 11:10 am

Photos by Tom Rivers: Mohawk Valley Materials cuts down trees and removes them in Holley in this photo on Nov. 18, between the lift bridge and Bennetts Corners Road.

(Editor’s Note: This story was updated to include a comment from New York Power Authority, which said the delay is due to winter weather.)

Leaders of three Monroe County towns have convinced the State Canal Corp. to delay a tree-clearing plan and perhaps scale back the effort, according to a report in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

However, the reason for the delay is due to the winter weather, said Steven Gosset, spokesman for the New York Power Authority, which oversees the canal.

“The embankment maintenance work has been temporarily suspended due to the onset of cold and snowy conditions and associated potential safety concerns,” Gosset said this afternoon. “The work is scheduled to resume once the weather permits.”

A contractor for the Canal Corporation in October began removing trees along the towpath in Medina and started working east. The loss of trees sparked outrage by many canal residents in Orleans County, but the work continued.

In Monroe County, elected officials joined concerned residents in objecting to the extent of the work.

The Canal Corp. is paying Mohawk Valley Materials in Utica $2.6 million to clear trees from 145 acres of canal-owned property in the two counties.

The Democrat and Chronicle is reporting (click here) the state will delay tree clearing until February in Brighton, Perinton and Pittsford. The state will also have two public meetings about the project in January so the community can better understand the scope of work, which could be scaled back.

More than 120 residents attended a meeting on Monday at the Pittsford Community Library about the controversial project. The Canal Corp. said it wants to establish a grassy slope by the towpath. Removing the trees will make the banks easier to maintain and check for leaks. The Canal Corp. also said tree roots have burrowed into the canal walls, making the waterway vulnerable to leaks.

The D & C reported that the town supervisors from Brighton, Perinton and Pittsford were joined by State Sen. Rich Funke on Friday in a meeting with the Canal Corp. and New York Power Authority, which currently oversees the canal.

The two state agencies agreed to delay the project east of Rochester.

Tree stumps now line the towpath at this section of the canal in Albion near Sandy Creek.

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