Author Topic: Is a local Facebook Group Influencing the Safety of Erie Canal Communities & Neighbors?  (Read 35 times)

Doug K

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It's no secret if you live in the western section of the Erie Canal in Upstate NY, that there are monumental changes being made to the 200 year old Erie Canal Waterway & Trail system. Some of these changes are part of a new Earthen Embankment Integrity Program (EEIP) being run by it's owners and involves removing the overgrowth of trees & underbrush that grows along side the canal on those "slopes" that run along about 125 miles of the 525 mile system.

It seems that those slopes or berms are actually earthen embankments (or dams) that have been identified as High Hazard and in need of remediation now. Dam Remediation is simple, everything gets removed, the soil is de-rooted, and then new embankment earth is replaced along with a covering of grass. Keep the grass short and dams can be properly inspected in the future.

Many of these earthen dams are no more than 18 - 20 feet tall and are barely visible under the overgrown canopy, while other embankments have been raised over neighboring areas by as much as 60-75 feet. Most of these earthen dams have had little to no proper inspection and/or maintenance, according to recently released documents from the NYS Comptroller and Rizzo Engineering.

Both of these oversight agencies have cited long-standing safety issues with the NYS Canal System, one in a 2014 report and most recently in 2017-18 when Rizzo Eng. conducted a few "spot inspections" for new the new owners of the canal system, the New York Power Authority. (NYPA). Since 2017. when New York Power Authority took ownership of the Erie/Barge Canal System & it's protector the  New York State Canal Corporation (NYSCC)

And it's no secret that under prior ownership, with the Thruway Authority, the Erie Canal had fallen into disrepair and reached the point of being a public safety concern.

So NYPA has now taken up the challenge, like many before them, to "make money" from this NY Canal Property. They have promised NY Government Leaders that the Canal will use NO TAXPAYER MONEY to run or maintain its system, and they have focused heavily on repairing old & new safety issues they have uncovered in their new asset.

For many neighbors who have headaches from fighting leaking canal embankments, these safety solutions couldn't come soon enough. You can read more about Embankment Safety by using the links below:

http://www.canals.ny.gov/Earthen_Embankment/index.html

https://ecna.us/eeip/


And for the first time in a long time, the new owners of the Erie Canal are listening to their neighbors while making these plans to repair safety issues and clear these unsafe embankments. NYPA has been working towards solutions that satisfy the needs of both private homeowners that border their canal property, as well as the communities that the canal passes through.

All of these proposed changes have to do with improving the SAFETY of the canal system and also to promote the safety of the PUBLIC using the Canal System, both trail and waterway. These improvements are centered on building & rebuilding a SUSTAINABLE canal system that stands the test of time and last the next two hundred years.


So why would anyone want to STOP the New York Power Authority or the Canal Corporation from getting these much needed and long-overdue safety repairs made?

That seems to be the million dollar question.

Why anyone would fight against what many knowledgeable people would and do consider a Public Safety Program, is a mystery. It's a mystery that the Erie Canal Neighbors Association has perplexed over since we formed in 2018, in order to provide opposition to the dangerous rhetoric being propagated by a Facebook group in the Rochester area, in the eastern suburbs of Pittsford, Perinton & Fairport.

Still to this day, this "pseudo-environmental" group on Facebook, who's calling itself the "Stop the Canal Clear-cut Group", is fighting against all of this NYS Canal Corporation's public safety work along the Erie Canal. And they have also opposed New York Power Authorities' Embankment Integrity Program to repair these unsafe earthen dams as "unnecessary" and detrimental to the "environment".

The owners of the Erie Canal are saying that they need to repair known safety concerns of their earthen dams, for the public's best interest, to prevent environmental devastation that could result from a breached embankment &  flood. They are saying it loud and clearly.

And this group is saying they don't believe the message, and don't trust the messenger?

Worse yet, most people in the Rochester area are unaware of the danger they may be in, because the NY State Canal Corporation has been very tight-lipped.

And even worse than this ignorance, there are some people in the area that actually support this group instead of setting them straight.


By the way, the new owners of the NY Canal System, NYPA,  has also started a campaign to drive more tourism with their Reimagine the Canals program, which is slated to transform the Erie Canal from what it is today, to a 21st century centerpiece for Recreation in New York State. They will use what they have, electricity & power generation, to transform the canal into a sight to be seen and enjoyed day or night. You can read more about their efforts by using the links provided below:

https://www.ny.gov/programs/reimagine-canals-initiative

https://ecna.us/reimagine/
« Last Edit: December 07, 2020, 10:49:56 am by Doug K »

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Doug K

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It appears that while some people in the area are fighting against a safer Erie Canal, there are many people who approve and welcome these Canal embankment changes. All of the work being done, and changes in the embankment's appearance, are soundly based in advancing the cause of public safety for canal communities & canal neighbors.

And many canal neighbors have finally been able to talk with their "absentee owner" and get our voices heard on water issues experienced while living next to these earthen water impounding structures. Neighbors, more than anyone else, appreciate the efforts towards a safe "dam in their backyard" that the new owners are making.

Yet some people in our area, it seems mostly those walking along the Empire State Trail system, are opposed to these canal embankment changes, citing a loss of shade & oxygen(?) as a reason to fight a public safety program. They say nature is being destroyed and their view of the canal will be different, in a bad way. They simply deny that any safety problems being brought up by the OWNERS of the NYS Canal System exist.

They seem to have the mentality that 'if it's not broke, don't fix it' and are failing to hear the New York State Canal Corporation saying that "the Erie Canal is BROKEN!"

This latter group is being led by a small trio of individuals from Perinton, NY using a Facebook group called Stop the Canal Clear-Cut or STCC. You can go see what they have to say, but be forewarned, they are a 'public' group by invitation only. And you have to be approved by the Founder, and also NOT do anything contrary to what this founder & group believes. If you do you will find yourself on the outside looking in, because leadership's opinions are law.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/374651252977621/

https://ecna.createaforum.com/the-stop-the-clearcut-argument/

Why anyone would fight against what many knowledgeable people would and do consider a Public Safety Program, is a mystery.

It's a mystery that the Erie Canal Neighbors Association has perplexed over since we formed in 2018, in order to provide opposition to the dangerous rhetoric being propagated by a Facebook group in the Rochester area, in the eastern suburbs of Pittsford, Perinton & Fairport.

Still to this day, a small "pseudo-environmental" group on Facebook, who's calling itself the "Stop the Canal Clear-cut Group", is fighting against all of this NYS Canal Corporation's public safety work along the Erie Canal. And their surrounding community, the one in danger from possible flooding with these unsafe embankments, does NOTHING to stop the rhetoric.

In fact some local Mayors, like Pittsford, are supporting the cause of this group, which is fighting public safety on the wrong side

The owners of the Erie Canal, the New York Canal Corporation & New York Power Authority, are saying that they need to repair known safety concerns of their earthen dams, for the public's best interest, to prevent environmental devastation that could result from a breached embankment &  flood. They are saying it loud and clearly, and started their messaging with Public Hearings in Perinton & Fairport areas. And what did the local community do? Many attended to hold up protest signs and gave the floor up to the leaders of this Facebook group to speak for their neighborhoods.

In fact the Leaders of this Facebook group stood up and said they believed that squirrels and trees were more important to save, than homes & residents.

Finally these Eastside Town & Village leaders joined forces with this Facebook group and sued these two New York State agencies to stop the Erie Canal embankment repairs, and hold all of this public safety work up. All of which has now resulted in new Flood Zone maps being created for canal communities, and more money being spent to get what should have been a simple public safety project completed. Where are the public officials, are they for or against public safety in their own communities???

Again, just asking the question.

What happened in Perinton, Fairport, and Pittsford to have so many public leaders & community members simply abandon common sense, and also good judgement, in protecting the public, from itself?

Isn't that the JOB of our community leaders, protecting the public's best interest? Shouldn't that be the GOAL of a community who truly cares?
« Last Edit: December 08, 2020, 10:03:56 am by Michael Caswell »