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Still some time to submit comments for Erie Canal embankment program

WXXI photo
The Erie Canal and the Marsh Road Bridge at Bushnell's Basin in Monroe County.

The New York State Canal Corporation is reminding local residents that they still have a few days to submit comments about the program that includes removing vegetation from the banks of the Erie Canal.

There were informational meetings last month in Fairport, and Rebecca Hughes, who heads up public engagement for the Canal Corporation, says that comments can still be submitted via email or written mail through Friday, October 15.

Hughes said that the agency is looking for suggestions on how to continue a dialogue with people concerned about plans for maintaining the canal embankments.

“On how we plan to engage with the public as the program is rolled out, to hear from them, if we’re looking at the right channels of communication, if we’re looking at clear and transparent ways to communicate with the public and if not, how they would like to be communicated with and engaged as projects are identified,” said Hughes.

The Canal Corporation’s program for clearing some foliage along the banks of the canal drew a lot of opposition over the last few years, with local residents and officials worried about clear cutting of vegetation along the embankments.

Hughes, who heads up public engagement efforts for the Canal Corporation, said that the agency is trying to  balance reaction from local residents as well as public safety.

“I’ll say pretty flatly that it’s not a clear-cutting program. Stop The Canal Clear Cut grassroots movement that’s based in the suburban Rochester area has been hugely effective in that it’s been loud and clear that the public sentiment is in preference of trees on the trail ways that provide shade and really enhance recreation,” said Hughes. “Our intent is to implement a program that reflects public sentiment while keeping public safety first.”

Hughes said the Canal Corp. is exploring a lot of different way to strike that balance.

On its Facebook page, Stop The Canal Clear Cut has been calling for Governor Kathy Hochul and state legislators to preserve and enhance natural vegetation along the canal.

Hughes emphasized that no additional projects along the embankments  will be implemented until about a year from now, and even then, she says that there will be additional  opportunities for the public to give feedback in the future.

You can submit comments by emailing:

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.