State approves $1M in grants to canal towns, but nothing for Orleans

Staff Reports Posted 31 December 2014 at 12:00 am

Canal towns in New York will receive nearly $1 million in grants for community development projects, according to the latest round of funding approved for Regional Economic Development Councils.

Not a cent of the $955,343 in grants will make it to Orleans County.

Each project will work towards enhancing and beautifying both the New York State Canal system and the Canalway Trail, two essential recreational and economic resources for millions of New Yorkers and visitors throughout the year, the Canal Corp. said in a press release on Tuesday.

“The historic Canal system and Canalway Trail generate billions of dollars in economic activity across upstate New York each year,” said New York State Thruway Authority Executive Director Thomas J. Madison. “I commend Governor Cuomo and the Regional Economic Development Councils for acknowledging the economic and recreational value of New York’s Canals and Canalway Trail and providing generous aid to help communities expand and improve their connection to these extraordinary resources.”

Orleans was left out of the funding mainly because the municipalities didn’t apply for any canal-related projects.

The Canal Corporation awards will support the following projects:

• $71,400 awarded to the Waterford Canal Harbor Visitor Center for dock and promenade repairs. Located at the confluence of the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers, the Visitor Center has been one of the most celebrated public places on the NYS Canal system. This restoration project will consist of repairing existing infrastructure, upgrading the existing shower facilities, and replacing water proof decking.

• $125,000 awarded to the city of Rome for Canal Park Navigation Center improvements. The installation of new boat docks, accompanied by renovations to complete bathroom and shower washrooms in the Navigation Center, will help the city of Rome become a premier tourist and boater destination along the Erie Canal.

• $150,000 awarded to the Town of Rotterdam for the Rotterdam Junction Bike Path Railway Tunnel. This project will work towards beginning to fill the trail gaps of the Erie Canalway Trail and the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail. Currently, trail users have to exit the trail and travel along Route 5S before reentering the path on Iroquois Street to avoid any safety hazards. The 105-foot bike path tunnel will help to address these safety concerns by extending the bike path in this location to eliminate the threat of injury or harm to any trail users. The tunnel will also act as an emergency culvert in the event that a storm similar to Hurricane Irene was to occur.

• $150,000 awarded to Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper for the Scajaquada Creek Paddlesport Launch Micro-Park in the City of Buffalo’s Black Rock neighborhood. The grant will be used to complete Phase 2 of the Scajaquada Creek Paddlesport Launch Micro-Park. The project is located along a key gateway to the City of Buffalo’s Black Rock neighborhood on Niagara Street and an inlet of Scajaquada Creek, just before the creek joins Black Rock Canal. The second phase of this project builds on previous efforts to restore the waterfront brownfield, expand waterway access points along the Niagara River Greenway and Blueway Trail, improve opportunities for recreation, help make connections to nature in an economically disadvantaged neighborhood and revitalize a key gateway to Black Rock.

• $45,000 awarded to the City of Syracuse for Canalway Trail route signage. The grant will be used to designate the currently unsigned route of the Erie Canalway Trail through the city of Syracuse, with connections to existing sections of the trail in the Town of Camillus to the west and the Town of Dewitt to the east. The selected signage will help to improve trail visibility and the overall safety of trail users. This project also includes portions of Milton Avenue, Erie Boulevard West, Franklin Street, Water Street South, Beech Street and East Genesee Street. Additionally, this project will connect with the Erie Canal Museum in downtown Syracuse.

• $30,000 awarded to the Village of Montour Falls for a trail connection project. This grant will fund the construction of a pedestrian bridge over the Catharine Creek, a boardwalk that will connect to the Catherine Valley Trail and a walking trail. When constructed, the bridge will be able to connect residents and visitors to the Catharine Valley Trail system, helping to create a multi-modal system for bicyclists and pedestrians. The bridge will also connect to the village parks in Montour Falls from the trail and provide safer access for pedestrians to cross NYS Route 14 to the state trail, helping to create a healthier and safer trail system while revitalizing towns and villages along the continuous 12-mile trail.

• $98,943 awarded to the Town of Stillwater for a Champlain Canal connector project. The historic Saratoga Battlefield Champlain Canal connector project represents the connection of a comprehensive trail network by the Town of Stillwater supported by the Stillwater Trail Feasibility Study, Saratoga National Historic Park, the Open Space Institute and Saratoga County. This 1.13 mile trail segment connects the Town of Stillwater’s trail system to the south, with the Battlefield Park trail system to the west and the Old Champlain Canal trail system to the north.

• $150,000 awarded to the historic Seneca Knitting Mill to transform into the Center for Great Women. This grant will help transform and reuse the empty and dilapidated Mill into the Center for Great Women, which is the headquarters of the National Women’s Hall of Fame. This phase of the project will include selective demolition, construction, interior build-out and site work on the first floor of the Mill. These essential renovations will allow for the National Women’s Hall of Fame to move from its original location to a newly renovated and more spacious building. Located within the Seneca Falls Heritage Area along the south shore of the Seneca-Cayuga Canal, the new building will be considered a national destination, providing a great depth of historical insight while showcasing the amazing stories of the National Women’s Hall of Fame inductees. The completion of this project will attract many visitors to the area, as well as above and beyond to other tourist destinations in the Finger Lakes region.

• $50,000 awarded to the Fairport IDA for the expansion of the Thomas Creek Wetland Walk. Located on the north side of the Erie Canal and south of an active rail line, all 13.2 acres of the site are owned by the Fairport IDA. This grant will provide funding to help expand connections to the Canalway trail, construct observation points, improve educational and interpretive signage and compliment related improvements throughout the nature site.

• $50,000 awarded to the Village of Pittsford for the construction of a Bicentennial Pavilion. This grant will help to construct a commemorative Pavilion on an existing concrete dock along the Erie Canal waterway in honor of the upcoming bicentennial of the Erie Canal. This construction marks the last major component of revitalization along the Canalway trail at Schoen Place. The Pavilion will overlook the canal and be compatible in scale and design with the extant structures in the surrounding Warehouse District. An informational sign will be included on the interior of the proposed structure that will contain historical information pertaining to Pittsford’s prestigious canal history. This renovation project will help further highlight the historical features of Schoen Place, which has been designated a historic area by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

• $75,000 awarded to Schenectady County for a Canalway Trail repaving project. Approximately 1.25 miles of the Mohawk Hudson Bike Trail, also known as the Canalway Trail, will be repaved from the exit 26 bridge to Lock 8 in the Town of Rotterdam. This project works hand in hand with a recent Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) project that was completed this summer to repair heaved and cracked section of the trail as well as to replace drainage pipes. The repaving work will assure trail users 20 to 30 years of good trail conditions. Additionally, this project complements the County’s project to reconstruct the trail crossing at NYS Route 5S.