Revitalization group meets Jan. 21 and seeks feedback to better utilize canal in Orleans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 January 2020 at 8:18 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: A boater makes a stop in Albion near the Ingersoll Street lift bridge this past July.

ALBION – The second community meeting to gather public input on the Orleans County Canal Corridor Waterfront Revitalization Plan will be at 7 p.m. on Jan. 21 at Hoag Library.

Those in attendance will be provided with updated information on the Canal Corridor Local Waterfront Revitalization Program Plan followed by an open house to review potential projects along the Canal Corridor.

Participants will be able to provide their input on the potential projects that will be provided to the Waterfront Advisory Committee for consideration for inclusion in the final LWRP Plan.

The committee members are representatives from 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. (The county received a state grant for $62,000 to develop the plan and hired LaBella Associates as a consultant for the project.)

The Jan. 21 meeting at the library on South Main Street is another opportunity for residents and businesses in the community to provide feedback and help plan the future of the Canal Corridor.

About 40 people attended the first open house on Oct. 29, seeking ideas to capitalize on the canal. During that open house, LaBella handed out stickers and asked people to rank their highest priorities along the canal. Red-colored stickers signified the highest priority, with green the second highest, yellow the third highest and blue the fourth highest priority.

Many of the red stickers went by economic development, with a goal to boost investment and job opportunities in the canal communities. That includes a better environment for small businesses in the downtowns, as well as commercial, industrial and agriculture growth.

The farming sector would benefit from continued use of siphoning canal water for irrigation. The canal bridges also need to be strong enough to handle farm equipment, the group said.

Top priorities also went to more programs – community events, concerts, races, competitions and historical event celebrations – along the canal.

Some people wanted to see an improved streetscape, with more trees in the downtown, safer cross walks, and signage directing people to services and attractions. The canal towns should also have interpretive panels to better explain local history and the canal’s role in developing the towns.

The group also favors having distance markers on the towpath, to inform cyclists, boaters and other users how close they are to a town.

Adam Johnson, owner of 39 Problems in Albion, sees opportunities to use the canal in the winter, because there is some water that remains. Johnson said it could be used for ice skating and other winter sports. There also should be more launches along the canal for people with kayaks, he said.

The committee members are trying to prioritize projects and develop an action plan.

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