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Erie Canal Corporation Wraps Up Embankment Work This Summer

ROCHESTER, NY (WXXI) - Renovations on the Erie Canal have been causing a rift between some canal side residents and the state's Canal Corporation for about a yearnow.

A final set of public meetings will be held Monday & Tuesday ahead of the last phase of the project.

John Callaghan, Executive Deputy Director of the Canal Corporation dubs this next phase "the final treatment" to the work that has been going on along the canal.

Tree stumps and vegetation that the Corporation said threatened the stability of the canal embankment have been removed, but Callaghan says they will be replanting where they can, in order to try and maintain the privacy and shade that people have come to know along the canal.

"The canal is 100 years old in its own right and in order to be around for the next 100 years and to be safely enjoyed by visitors and residents alike, we've got to maintain it properly."

Callaghan says community input from meetings like these has been vital to the entire process of restoring  embankment in Orleans and Monroe Counties, and he says there is no shortage of passion along the canal.

"A lot of the measure that you will see us talking about are a direct result of that feedback. Folks have told us, look we'd like some new access points so we can safely get from these neighborhoods up to the trail and back. We'd like maybe some vegetative screening where it is allowable."

But some residents are still unhappy with what has occurred on the waterway. Elizabeth Agte has been vocal over the course of the project, defending the natural trees and growth on the canal embankment.

"We want them to remain aware that we take the value of the historic beauty of the canal seriously and we continue to raise our voices when we feel like their work undermines the tangible and intangible values of this beloved water way."

Agte runs a Facebook group with over 600 members who have been watching the embankment work, and are disappointed with removal of trees that they say have never caused a problem.

She says the ways her group has affected the process is an example of grassroots organizing at work.

Both sides of the debate will speak out Monday night at a meeting being held at the Hoag Library in Albion at 6:30pm. Another meeting Tuesday night will be held in Brockport at AD Oliver Middle school at 6:30pm as well.