YMCA ready to expand Canal Club’s opportunities for biking, kayaking

Provided photos: A group of kayakers led by Colby Albone paddle down the Erie Canal near Medina before the pandemic. Albone oversees the kayaking program for the YMCA.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 14 April 2021 at 7:50 am

MEDINA – A new program started by Greg Reed, director of the Orleans County YMCA, is designed to attract tourists and give local residents a chance to be active by experiencing more of Medina has to offer – on land and water.

In 2019, Reed wrote a grant to the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation’s Legacy Fund for $25,000 to purchase bikes and kayaks, which can be rented by tourists and Medina residents.

Kayakers taking part in the YMCA’s Canal Club, paddle near Medina Falls on Glenwood Lake. YMCA director Greg Reed started the club in 2019 with a grant from the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation Legacy Fund.

He started the YMCA Canal Club, which he sees as being able to promote Medina and the canal year round.

“We have a great natural resource in the canal, and this provides a great opportunity to run such a program,” Reed said.

He thinks not only bikes and kayaks would be popular, but mountain bikes and snowshoes. The Canal Club members would receive lower rental fees, but the equipment would be open to the community, as well.

Reed said he came from Denver, where bikes can be rented year round. He pitched his idea to the Medina Village Board at its last meeting, asking to have a small shed in the canal basin to store kayaks and a bike rack in Rotary Park from which to rent bikes.

The bikes and/or scooters would be e-bikes, which means an individual can unlock them and pay the rental with an app on their phone.

Last year, Reed applied for and was approved for a $40,000 matching grant from the Erie Canalway Corridor’s Consolidated Fund. He ordered bikes and then the pandemic hit. They arrived in August, and Reed has been waiting for guidance from the state to be updated so they can be used.

Reed said the New York State Power Authority is promoting their Staycation Program and while they are on board with rentals, they have not said what they will do regarding excursions until the pandemic is over.

The YMCA has purchased 10 bikes, and depending how it goes, Reed said he would like to order 20 more. He would also like to have some suited for people with disabilities.

In the meantime, he said the YMCA will continue its regular biking and kayaking programs from the canal basin to Culvert Road and back. He said Pittsford did a similar program last year and he wants to replicate it here.

He said when tourists come to Medina, they are looking for things to do and this would promote tourism and local businesses.

“This will be complimentary to our business,” Reed said.

Colby Albone is heading the Canal Club programming. Another local sporting enthusiast is David Fuller of Medina, who is also planning to do waterway recreation, such as tubes and kayaks. He has wanted to have rentals for some time and recently partnered with the Erie Canal Boat Company in Lockport to make it happen.

Colby Albone instructs kayakers how to paddle before entering Glenwood Lake.

Fuller said he will be working with the Erie Canal Boat Company, which also has a launch pad in Fairport. In addition, Fuller has a friend who lives on the Oak Orchard River at 3359 North Gravel Rd. and has agreed to make his property available for kayakers and canoers.

Fuller will keep his equipment there and plans to install an outdoor bathroom and changing room. He said boaters can travel the river to Bates Road, where a resident allows launching there, but asks that users respect the property. From there, it is possible to continue to Oak Orchard on the Ridge or Knowlesville Townline Road.

Fuller will also provide shuttle service for kayakers and canoers who need a ride back to their cars. Bikes are available for rent now, and other equipment will be available May 7. Fuller has tubes, kayaks, boats and two stand-up paddle boards. Information on rentals can be found by logging on to the Erie Canal Boat Company’s website and clicking on the Medina section.

Fuller’s bikes include two e-bikes which can be rented at Vine Street Park.