Having attended the entirety of all four public information sessions, I am impressed with the community turnout as well as the thoughtful discussions that occurred between the Canal Corporation and residents. By offering to host these events in Perinton, it was my goal to help facilitate a productive conversation and give our residents an opportunity to speak directly with the Canal Corporation. I appreciate the Canal Corporation staff for answering each question, and staying as late as needed to address every person in attendance.
I have been pragmatic and cautious in my approach to this issue because I deeply care about the Erie Canal and preserving its historic, economic and recreational significance, in addition to being concerned about the safety of our community. All things considered, here are my takeaways from the four meetings:
- The Erie Canal is incredibly important to all of us, including the Canal Corporation and vocal community groups, and we must work together to maintain the integrity of the Canal and preserve its value for generations to come.
- It is clear that maintenance along the earthen embankments of the Erie Canal has been lacking, which has resulted in areas of high hazard and poor condition. This, combined with the State’s diminished ability to perform inspections due to overgrowth, has created a public safety issue.
- The simple fact is, in order to preserve our Canal and the safety of our community, the earthen embankments need to be inspected. For them to be inspected, they need to be viewable, and in order to be viewable, some brush, bramble, and trees will need to be removed. However, the plans I’ve heard from the State over these past few days are not the same clear-cutting plans of 2017/18 that occurred on the Westside of Monroe County.
- It is clear to me that we must listen to the professional engineers on this project and trust their expertise when they say that public safety may be at risk by leaving the earthen embankments as-is. Through these meetings, I learned the State is monitoring 200 seeps, or leaks, that currently exist in earthen embankments, and those are only what is viewable at this moment through inspections and drone technology.
- I understand why there is a lot of passion around this issue, and I agree, the trees along the Canal are of significant value to our community. I don’t want to see a clear-cut happen, and after attending all four meetings for a cumulative 12 hours, I heard and saw the Canal Corporation outline a plan that is not full clear-cutting, but selective cutting if necessary, and only after following a threshold process for community engagement and involvement. I find this approach inclusive and encouraging after spending years advocating for our municipalities and residents to be consulted and included in any decisions made along the Canal.
- While FEMA and the Army Corp of Engineers guidance states that zero trees should exist on earthen embankments, the Canal Corporation is trying to strike a balance between public safety and our desire to preserve the aesthetic value of the Canal. I believe it is in this compromise that we can all move forward.
- It was clear to me that the Canal Corporation is open and available to our input and ideas, so I cannot stress enough how important it is to have your voice heard. Please submit your comments by emailing NYSCC-EMBANKMENTS@BERGMANNPC.COM by Friday, October 15.
For project information visit the Canal Corporation website.