Orleans officials seek meeting with Canal Corp. about next steps with tree clearing

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 March 2018 at 10:16 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: A tree stump sticks out of the snow by Sandy Creek in Albion in a spot just west of the Brown Street bridge in this photo from March 6.

MURRAY – Several officials from local municipalities attended a meeting last week in Brockport with the State Canal Corp., which detailed the next steps of the tree clearing. That meeting was largely focused on what the Canal Corp. plans to do in Brockport.

A contingent from Orleans County asked the Canal Corp. to hold a similar presentation in Orleans. Paul Hendel, a Murray town councilman, said the Canal Corp. is willing to hold a similar session, which would likely be in Albion.

Hendel attended the Brockport meeting along with Holley Mayor Brian Sorochty, Albion Deputy Mayor Eileen Banker, Medina Mayor Mike Sidari and County Legislators Ken DeRoller and John DeFilipps.

Hendel said Orleans County deserves to know the next steps in the project. Residents want to know how the canal banks will be remediated.

The Canal Corp. told Brockport residents the state agency would hire arborists to consult with Brockport homeowners about appropriate property lines to provide privacy, with the Canal Corp. paying the cost.

The Canal Corp. also will do low-growing vegetation on the cleared embankment, and will work with Brockport to identify and develop several public access points along the canal path.

The Canal Corp. hired a contractor to remove trees on canal-owned land beginning last fall. The clearing started in Medina and headed east. The tree removal upset many local residents.

The Canal Corp. said the clear cutting was necessary because the trees and their roots threaten the integrity of the canal banks, and make them vulnerable to leaks.

The stumps will be removed and the banks will become grassy slopes that will be mowed, the Canal Corp. said.

Kerri Neale, a Holley resident, said the loss of the trees by his property has eliminated a wind break. Two trees toppled on his property last month due to the loss of the buffer of trees by the canal. He told the Murray Town Board on Tuesday that he worries the tree cutters will take down many of the trees by Holley’s Canal Park, a popular spot that includes the Holley Waterfalls.

He said the community needs to be vigilant and know the Canal Corp.’s plans on whether there will be additional tree clearing.

He noted that three Monroe County towns – Pittsford, Perinton and Brighton – won an injunction to halt the tree clearing in their towns until the Canal Corp. and New York Power Authority complete an environmental review of the work.

Neale said the canal banks needed maintenance, but he questioned why so many trees were removed in Orleans and western Monroe.

“They didn’t give us the same respect as the people to the east,” he told the Murray Town Board. “They did it with such speed that the people couldn’t react to it.”

Bob Miller, the Murray town supervisor, said the three Monroe towns who filed the lawsuit were able to take action after seeing a “denuded” canal in Orleans and western Monroe.

“The rate at which they went through Orleans County was rather rapid,” he said.

Hendel said he is hopeful a public information meeting will soon be announced in Orleans County to detail the next steps of the canal bank maintenance plan.

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