Final public meeting set for proposed priority projects along Erie Canal

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 October 2020 at 12:56 pm

Proposals include building upgrades, a new marina, assistance for restaurants, kayak launches, signage

Courtesy of Labella Associates: A committee looking at ways to better utilize the Erie Canal has suggested a privately owned marina that offers gas and other services would draw more boating traffic to the Albion area.

ALBION – A group that has been meeting for about a year, brainstorming ideas to better utilize the Erie Canal, has identified several projects.

The committee is developing a Canal Corridor Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan for the villages of Albion and Holley, and the towns of Albion, Murray, Gaines, Ridgeway and Shelby. The Village of Medina has developed its own waterfront plan.

Albion and Holley would benefit if there were kayak launches in the villages along the canal, according to the Waterfront Advisory Committee.

The county received a state grant for $62,000 to develop the plan and hired LaBella Associates as a consultant.

The committee will hold a final public meeting Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. at The Lockstone at 160 North Main St. Natasha Wasuck, owner of the Lockstone, is one of the committee members.

The public can attend the meeting in person or check in through Zoom videoconferencing (click here). The meeting ID is 827 3351 7976 and the passcode is 694534. Dial by your location at +1 929 205 6099 US (New York).

The Local Waterfront Advisory Committee will go over the final plan, including eight priority projects. The committee sought projects that provide access to the waterfront, increase recreational opportunities and advance economic development opportunities.

The plan will help the county and participating municipalities with future funding opportunities.

Some of the proposed projects include:

• Canal Corridor Building Assistance Program: would provide grant funding of up to $600,000 to assist multiple buildings or an anchor building with interior and exterior improvements. Albion and Holley have both received New York Main Street grants for building improvements in the downtown.

• Small Business Assistance Program: A countywide program with grant and loan funding to assist new and existing businesses with growth, with restaurants and culinary operations getting the priority.

• Activate the Canal Waterfront: Repurpose underutilized spaces, including parking lots, which could be turned into performance space and improved aesthetically with landscaping and lighting. The initiative would include rear facade upgrades and enhanced water recreation opportunities. The committee used the Village of Albion’s parking lot by the canal near Platt Street as an example of space that could be improved.

The committee suggested Albion redesign and resurface a parking lot by the canal, adding lighting and landscaping and making the space available to be used for concerts and events.

• Increase Water-Based Recreation Facilities: Add kayak and boat launches, piers and tie-ups in the villages of Albion and Holley. The area needs private entities to offer kayak rentals.

• Construct a Marina in Albion: A private marina is needed that offers gas services, tie-ups and other services.

• Install Signage along the Canal: There needs to be signs with distances to the next ports and nearby canal communities. There should also be signs directing people to businesses and services.

• Winter Recreation Program: This could include “pop-up” temporary ice skating rinks, cross country skiing and winter festivals.

• Siphon for Agriculture: Siphoning water from the canal reduces agriculture costs and also can be used to provide water for creeks and fishing.

• Some other projects: Arts along the canal with statues and public art relevant to the canal and county; Trail connections to natural areas (Groth Road in Murray and Presbyterian Road in Knowlesville area); Celebrate the Holley canal loop with pavement, lighting and signage; Attract a rental business offering bikes and kayaks; Promote tugboats; Upgrade the towpath trail surface for bikes, increase the number of events and redevelop the Murray quarry ponds for recreation.

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