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Survey asks for priorities, ideas for Medina waterfront

File photo by Tom Rivers: Many Medina officials would like to improve access to the Medina Waterfalls near the Erie Canal, just west of the State Street bridge.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 October 2018 at 2:12 pm

MEDINA – The committee working on a waterfront plan for Medina wants to hear from residents and visitors how Medina could turn its waterfront resources into a bigger asset.

The village is fortunate to have the Erie Canal, Glenwood Lake and Oak Orchard River. Medina also has sizable open spaces near the canal, Glenwood Lake and the Oak Orchard.

The Village of Medina has initiated a Local Waterfront Revitalization Program to better utilize the waterfront for economic development, recreation and tourism.

The committee had a public meeting last week to update the community on the program and to get their ideas for waterfront projects.

The group is also doing an online survey for local residents and will have one available for visitors to fill out. (Click here to see the survey for residents).

The surveys also will be printed and available in the downtown.

Photo by Ginny Kropf: The Lois McClure, a replica of a canal boat from the 1800s, pulls up to the Canal Basin in Medina. A planning committee is seeking ideas from the public on how to make the basin more appealing.

The survey asks local residents how long have they lived in Medina, and why do they live in Medina (proximity to family, work, low cost of housing, accessibility to Buffalo or Rochester, other reasons).

Other questions include: How often do you utilize village parks? Which village parks — Butts Park, Gulf Street Park, Lions Park, State Street Park, Canal Port Park or Rotary Park — do you visit most often?

How often do you utilize the Erie Canal Heritage Trail? How often do you access the Erie Canal, Glenwood Lake, and/or Oak Orchard River?

How do you interact with the Glenwood Lake, Oak Orchard River and Erie Canal? — scenic viewing, boating, kayaking or canoeing, fishing, other (please be specific)

Would you like to see additional recreational amenities around the Erie Canal or in village-owned parks? If yes, what would you like to see?

What kind of amenities would you like to see in Medina?

If you could implement one improvement project around the waterfront (that would have the greatest impact) what would it be?

The village received a state grant to cover most of the cost of the project to develop the waterfront program. That plan is expected to be finished in mid-2019, in time for Medina to apply for funding for state grants.

Samantha Herberger, a planner with Bergmann Associates in Rochester, leads a discussion about Medina’s waterfront during a meeting last Wednesday at the Medina Central School district office.

Members of the committee and the public held a public meeting last week to discuss the waterfront, including potential projects and obstacles to bringing them to reality.

Improved public access to the Medina Waterfalls was cited by many as a top priority. Those waterfalls are currently dangerous for the public to access. The waterfalls are visible from the towpath by the canal, but a better vantage point could make the falls a bigger attraction for Medina.

“The Medina Waterfalls isn’t just underutilized, it’s unknown,” said Jim Hancock, the tourism chairman for Medina.

The group at last week’s meeting also said the waterfront plan should include more amenities by the Canal Basin, including more lighting to make the area feel safer in the evening and at night.

Allison Harrington, an urban planner with Sustainable Planning Design, said Medina has a thriving historic commercial district right next to the Erie Canal.

Medina has lots of open land near its waterfront by the canal, the Oak Orchard River and Glenwood Lake, said Allison Harrington, an urban planner with Sustainable Planning Design. She did an inventory of the assets and opportunities by the village’s waterfront property.

She sees the presence of open and 35 acres of parks as assets that could be enhanced to enhance the quality of life for village residents and also draw more visitors and tourists.

“When you look at a community with a declining population, what are some of the things we can do to keep them here?” Harrington asked about 40 people at last week’s meeting.

She said the Medina downtown and some of the other historic sites in the community give Medina “tremendous architectural resources.”

The downtown is clearly cared for by the building owners, and the interpretive panels and historical markers show there is pride in the community for the downtown and Medina’s history, she said.

“You have this real intact fabric of a downtown that is representative of a canal community,” she said.

Harrington also cited a few underutilized spots on Main Street, including the former Starlite Cleaners. Starlite was leveled and that open lot could be an asset to help the business district.

Residents and committee members at the meeting last week said a better developed trail system, linking the waterfront assets should be developed.

Specifically, residents and committee members at the meeting noted projects that would boost Medina could include a brewery in the Canal Basin, a community center in Medina, and more backside facades such as the one at Fitzgibbons Public House that faces the canal.

The planning group said it wants to add the “wow factor” to Medina’s waterfront, which they say is currently missing.

The consultants for the project will reach out to Medina leaders and other stakeholders in interviews to get their ideas about waterfront development and revitalization.

The planning committee wants to identify specific projects in December. It is pushing to have the planning initiative complete by mid-2019 in time to pursue state funding for some of the projects.

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