With new waterfront plan, Medina aims to dream big

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 August 2018 at 10:03 am

Waterfalls access, more canal amenities, more downtown businesses, and revamped playgrounds

Photos by Tom Rivers: Kimberly Baptiste, project leader of the Medina Local Waterfront Development Plan, meets with committee members on Wednesday during the kickoff meeting for the project. Baptiste works for Bergmann Associates, a firm hired to help Medina create the new plan. Committee members pictured from clockwise by Baptiste include Lisa Tombari, Tim Elliott, Chris Goyette, Marty Busch, Debbie Padoleski, Mike Sidari, Chris Busch and Kathy Blackburn.

MEDINA – A committee tasked with reimagining the Medina waterfront met for the first time Wednesday evening as part of an initiative to better capitalize on the Erie Canal, Glenwood Lake and other nearby assets, including the historic downtown.

The Village of Medina was awarded a $37,500 state grant in December to develop a Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. The LWRP is critical for developing a plan, both short-term and long-term, for the waterfront and also to help Medina pursue public and private investment for projects to make the waterfront and nearby areas more attractive.

Many state grants, for example, want to know if projects are in line with a LWRP. Medina currently does not have that kind of plan and it has hurt the community’s chances for funding, including a $10 million downtown revitalization grant. That money last year went to the City of Batavia. Medina isn’t applying this year partly because it doesn’t have the LWRP in place, Mayor Mike Sidari said.

He is on the LWRP group which includes members of the Village Board, Planning Board, Medina Business Association and other community members.

The committee said the village has come a long way in the past 20 to 30 years, with a vibrant downtown, other projects completed, and many well-attended community events. However, the Canal Basin is falling short of its potential for local residents and for attracting more visitors.

“Twenty years ago we did a lot on the waterfront and then it stopped,” said Marty Busch, the village’s code enforcement officer. “We have to keep going.”

Medina has a wide basin at the canal and it has docks for boaters and bathrooms by the canal. But Busch said it needs a launch for boaters and kayakers.

Mary Lewis, owner of Creekside Floral and a committee member, said a top priority for the LWRP should be a plan for making the Medina Waterfalls more accessible to the public. Many people take a treacherous path on private property right now to see the falls. Lewis and other committee members said the waterfalls should be safely accessible to the public. That site, if publicly accessible, would be a big draw for the community.

Lewis has her floral business on Main Street. The first floor shops are mostly full in the downtown, but Lewis said there is room for more small businesses in the downtown buildings. She would like to see the total number double or triple in the downtown, to make the business district an even greater draw. The LWRP should include ideas to boost more entrepreneurs in the community, she said.

The Hydrobikes and kayaks for Pedal and Paddle Medina are docked in Medina’s Canal Basin. Some members on a committee to develop a Local Waterfront Revitalization Program want to add a launch for boats and kayaks.

The plan should also address the need to upgrade village parks with new playground equipment, and perhaps walking trails and other amenities. (Mayor Sidari and Village Trustee Tim Elliott said new playground equipment will be installed at Butts Park in September.)

Chris Busch, chairman of the Village Planning Board and also the Tree Board, said some community members had big dreams for Medina 20-30 years ago. Back then the pessimists made it more difficult to get projects in motion, but some optimists persevered.

“People don’t realize what we have,” Busch said. “There’s defeatism.”

The Medina Waterfalls are one of the most striking sights in Orleans County, yet there isn’t public access that gives a good look at the natural wonder.

Busch and others on the current committee said naysayers remain vocal in the community, and they need to be swayed about Medina’s assets and the community’s potential.

“Many have said, ‘We’re not Fairport,’” Busch said. “They act like this is our lot in life and we need to accept it. But we’ve come a long way and we have more to go.”

The LWRP will do an inventory of the assets in the community and look for ways to better capitalize on those resources, and also add more amenities.

The committee will meet again in September and October, and there will be at least three public meetings for residents to provide input.

The goal is to have a draft plan complete in March, and to send it to the state Department of State for approval. That document can then be used to help Medina pursue public and private financing for identified projects.

Orleans County also received a $62,000 state grant in December to develop a Local Waterfront Revitalization Program for the canal communities outside the Village of Medina. That includes the towns of Shelby, Ridgeway, Gaines, Albion and Murray, and the villages of Albion and Holley. That project is expected to start soon.

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