New York Power Authority board also authorizes initial $30 million funding for initiative projects in 2020
Initiative aims to revitalize Erie Canal corridor as prime tourism & recreation destination, boost economic development & environmental resiliency
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced the New York Power Authority board of trustees authorized a five-year funding plan for the “Reimagine the Canals,” first announced in the 2020 State of the State proposal. The initiative will help expand tourism, boost economic development and reduce flooding along the Erie Canal corridor.
"The Erie Canal transformed New York into an economic powerhouse in the 19th century, and in the 21st century can again serve as an engine for growth along the canal corridor," Cuomo said. "With this initiative, we are both honoring the canal's heritage and ensuring a very bright future."
"As someone who both spends time on the Erie Canal and frequently travels to the many communities along its banks, I know this initiative is an important step forward," Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said. "Building on the stronghold the Canal has been for our state for the last 196 years, I'm convinced the Canal's best days are yet to come."
The NYPA board also approved $30 million to fund “Reimagine” initiative projects in 2020 as part of the five-year plan, which also aims to enhance irrigation, restore wetlands and expand recreational fishing opportunities.
Projects that will move forward with the initial funding include:
•Connecting Communities: The "Brockport Loop" project in Monroe County will connect SUNY College at Brockport to the Empire State Trail, and the Village of Brockport through the transformation of a canal guard-gate into a pedestrian bridge and overlook
•Celebrating "Iconic Infrastructure": Interactive, hydropowered illumination of Canal "movable dams" – initially in Amsterdam and Canajoharie in the Mohawk Valley – to celebrate the canal's heritage and history.
•Adapting Industrial Property for New Uses: Winner of the “Reimagine the Canals” competition, a canalside pocket neighborhood, will be developed by Madison County at a former industrial property in Canastota along the Old Erie Canal – demonstrating a model for 21st century canalside living.
•Expanding Water Recreation: A new whitewater destination, at the north end of Cayuga Lake near Seneca Falls, to increase ecotourism and sport visitors to the region.
•Developing Destination Accommodations: The historic Guy Park Manor, on the Mohawk River in Amsterdam, will be reborn as a hospitality and recreation destination. A pedestrian bridge constructed across a canal lock will provide access to the Empire State Trail on the opposite side of the river.
NYPA runs the New York State Canal Corp. and the 524-mile state canal system as a subsidiary.
NYPA Chairman John R. Koelmel said, "This significant long-term investment allows NYPA to enable the Erie Canal corridor to realize its full potential as a prime destination for tourism and recreation and further boost the economy of canal communities. With the ‘Reimagine the Canals’ initiative, we are ensuring a more relevant and vibrant future for New York's iconic waterway."
NYPA President and CEO Gil C. Quiniones said, "The ‘Reimagine the Canals’ initiative is an investment in communities along the canal that will bring forth creative new uses of iconic infrastructure. We, with our community partners, are reimagining the canals to make sure they are both resilient and financially sustainable for future generations."
Brian U. Stratton, director of the New York State Canal Corp., said, "Gov. Cuomo's plan to ‘Reimagine the Canals’ will bring new energy, enthusiasm and economic development to the canal corridor. Today's board action approving the funding for these new initiatives is a positive step for the Canal Corp. and the communities that we will work so closely with to make these programs a reality. We are excited to begin."
Details and spending for each project will be finalized as the projects are designed and developed in collaboration with local community stakeholders. The full report from the “Reimagine the Canals” task force, formed to present recommendations to the governor, can be read here.