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My letter to Governor Cuomo

Dear Governor Cuomo
I understand you are receiving letters from a few people in the Fairport area who belong to a Facebook group  called STOP THE CLEAR CUT. (STCC)

I am a co-founder of The Erie Canal Neighbors Association (ECNA), an organisation set up to explicitly counter the actions and downright lies and deception being broadcast by the STCC.

The STCC has failed to grasp the seriousness of the problem on the canal embankments here, preferring to rally for old trees and squirrels than for the lives and property of folks living under a clearly defined dangerous and unsafe earthen embankment dam.

Please continue to shun these people, they are misinformed, radical - and wrong!

Thank you.
Michael Caswell
The co-founder of the STCC recently sent this letter to Governor Cuomo. It has the typical style of Ms Agte.

Elizabeth R. Agte February 4 at 10:12 PM

My letter to Governor Cuomo tonight... please take a moment to go to his website and say a few words.

Dear Governor Cuomo,

I am the co-founder of STOP the CANAL CLEAR CUT. We are a group of over 600 members. We have been waiting for word from the Canal Corporation/NYPA about their Earthen Embankment Integrity Program. The time line on their website is now five months out of date, and they have not posted anything to indicate what their intentions are moving forward. Is this because we stopped them in a court of law, and they canít go forward without public input and environmental impact studies, and they canít figure out how to get past the public?

In the meantime, we sent members of our group to the Reimagine meeting last summer in Brockport, and never heard a thing after that brainstorming session. The Reimagine concepts that are now presented are not anywhere close to the ideas we all shared that night.

Before the state starts building space ship bridges across the canal in Brockport, how about spending that time and money planting the trees that were promised to the residents there along the canal almost two years ago?

They were to be planted last summer, nothing happened and no one had the courtesy to even contact the homeowners about the delay. A delay of another year. Another year of no privacy, and lights and noise from industry from the other side of the canal impacting their quality of life. And letís not forget the environmental impact, loss of windbreaks that then downed homeowners trees. The trees that were promised will not provide privacy, habitat or green space or windbreaks for many years after they are planted, and now the homeowners have lost two growing seasons. Since the deadline for planting has been pushed to July 2020, it is guaranteed that a majority of those trees will die, since there is no plan in place for maintenance and watering. Is there a promise to replant until the trees and bushes actually take off, or is this a one and done? Is this the kind of professional work you would accept at your own home? I didnít think so.

You have talked long and hard about the New Green Deal, and how we have to seriously meet sustainability goals before we run out of time. Many initiatives start with the importance of planting trees, creating sustainable green space, and participating in other green initiatives. I did not see any of your Reimagine projects that paid any attention to environmental issues or climate change. Why is that? Why are you approving $300 million to create infrastructure instead of taking care of habitat and the environment?

We all have witnessed that parent agencies donít really want to take care of the canal. NYPA sweeps in, creates total chaos, and thenÖwell who knows what they are doing or thinking as they are completely unavailable for any kind of dialogÖ as we saw in the WHEC TV news story today. NYPA publicly agreed to tailor their approach to canal maintenance, when we held their feet to the fire, and since then, not a word. Now rumors are flying that NYPA is going to lower canal levels. They have already shortened the boating season. It is as if they are structuring the canal to fail. Again I ask how many of the Reimagine projects are environmentally sustainable? And who pays for their maintenance and upkeep? Why spend taxpayer money to build something that may not be maintained, instead of planting trees?

Two years ago, April 2018, the Canal Corporation/NYPA declared an ďemergencyĒ repair across the canal close to where I live, so I was able to witness their work every single day. (If you donít know where I live, ask NYPA, they have my house circled on their map of Fairport.) Anyway, the repair didnít fix anything, cost lots of money, and severed a fiber optics cable that ran under the canal. There has been a patched in cable all this time, while both sides tried to decide whoís at fault. Last month they finally came to thread another cable under the canal. It was another week of work on both sides of the canal with lots of manpower and expensive equipment and it still isnít finished. I mention this, because it seems to me and other taxpayers that maybe we should fix what needs to be fixed, what got screwed up, what needs to be maintained, before we spend more of OUR money making bright shiny things that we donít want.

What do people who use the canal want? They want serene picturesque beauty. They want to rent boats and idle down miles of greenery. They want to bike under overhanging trees, and watch fish jump and ducks swim. They want to have nature and parklike beauty right outside their door, not miles away at a state or national park. They do not want you to pave paradise.

Elizabeth R. Agte


Our drama queen does it again,"ducks and squirrels, bees and birds - we are their saviours" and the State response will likely be a standard format letter.
My first impression from this is The State is not taking any notice of anything the STCC is saying. No one is talking to them, or listening. Not the Governor or the NYPA and the Canal Corporation. They are out in the cold and they know it.
So why is that?
Who would want to talk to a group that bad mouths every single thing that crops up? What would be the point? It wouldn't matter what they said, the STCC will find fault.

Despite their own 'expert witnesses' telling them they are wrong, and are fighting a SAFETY PROBLEM, they continue with this rhetoric. But, it's coming to a close folks. the time is coming when the Earthen Embankment Integrity Program is moving onto its next stage, to complete its goal of a safe canal system.

I'm writing to Governor Cuomo too. I'm telling him that we appreciate his lack of communication with these people. They aren't 600 strong, there's a couple of dozen of them, and they refuse to accept all the evidence that there is a SAFETY problem being addressed here, and many of those under threat are grateful for the bold actions the NYPA are taking.

If you haven't been to the Erie Canal Neighbors Association  main website yet it's worth a look.

We have connected all the best of the  ECNA in one place. Links to everything from New York Canal Corp & Reimagine the Canal to the Oxbow Blog in Fairport and our Go Fund Me page thar supports our Canal trail work.

We also have links to the Embankment Integrity Program work as well as our new Twitter feed

Thanks for checking out our pages, thanks for supporting the ECNA
You can see the blog referred to here at-

ECNA Neighborhood News / Re: Farewell Message from an ECNA Founder... Carry On.
« Last post by Doug K on January 31, 2020, 03:01:06 pm »

Q: Where are you going & why are you leaving?

A: Not far, just working on some new initiatives to kick-start the ECNA... time to stretch out.

Here's our new presence on Twitter under @ECNA_US

I'll be spending some time engaging other Canal Communities through this tool

And then there is the Main Erie Canal Neighbors Association website... Mike would like a hand with that and I get to learn about webpages a bit more. Look for some nice articles to post up there, different than the Forum, much wider audience. Thanks for the question, thanks for listening.

If you haven't seen this... go check it out.

The ECNA get's an "honorable mention" with it's work as part of the NY State Parks & Trails "Adopt a Trail" Program

It took awhile but New York Power, shortly after taking ownership of the NYS Canal System, issued this reply to the Office of the NY State Comptroller report that showed the Canal System needed immediate repair in 2015. This reply was issued in early 2017, and is clear on Embankment Vegetation Management

I know many in Rochester paint the ECNA as "the bad guy" right along with the NYS Canal Corporation and New York Power Authority... We are not, we are only sharing information we find, that shows the truth about Dam Safety and also how the NYS Canal system's many unsafe embankments will be repaired. If you don't like the message, sorry. But please, don't shoot the messengers...

If you wanted to know the score at the end of the initial NYSCC Earthen Embankment Restoration Project (EERP) and it's transition to the new Earthen Embankment Integrity PROGRAM (EEIP).. here it is:

EERP Cleared Embankments: 80 acres
EEIP Uncleared Embankments = 1420 acres

We don't make this stuff's all out there online. Here's the minutes from the NYPA / Canal Corporation's September 2019 Joint Meeting

What you see is the final amount of work that was done for the original embankment clearing project...that stopped in Brockport.

What you don't see...yet, is the fact that a month BEFORE this report was made NY Power Authority was already looking for new trusted partners to work with on the next phase of their embankment safety program, the one that will continue where the first left off.

It's called the Earthen Embankment Integrity Program... and here's part of the presentation released in August 2019, looking for bidders

It covers Supplier Expectations

It outlines where the work will get done

And it spells out the size of the EEIP work

You only need to ask yourself one question... Do you think the New York Power Authority, and it's subsidiary the NY Canal Corporation, would go through all of this trouble if they thought for a moment the work would be stopped?

The NY Canal Earthen Embankment Integrity Program is a NEW reality all of NY State has to get used to... the Canal System is broken.

This is how it get's fixed...
Reimagine The Canals / Reimagine the Fairport Oxbow Trail & Park
« Last post by Doug K on January 29, 2020, 07:31:21 pm »
The question is: "What would you do if you had to "reimagine" the NYS Canal System...

The answer from people put to the task of answering that question can be found here:

It's all part of the plan just released by the Reimagine Task Force and Governor.. you can find that here:

After you look at a few ideas in that report the whole thing becomes easier... just take what you read and see if it fits for your own neighborhood along the NYS Canal. This work is being subsidized by new Canal Owners.. The New York Power Authority... or NYPA.

Do you have a Guard Gate? It could become a new "skyway bridge" from one side of the canal to the other. No more walking to the nearest roads.. this opens up the trail to many.. along with the waterway. Just ask NYPA & Reimagine the Canals. We are in Brockport and will get the Prototype of this unique design.

Do you have a Bridge in your Village... NYPA & Reimagine will get some nicer lighting schemes working. If you "Light It Up".. People WILL come.

Do you have a natural stream or river culvert in your town? Reimagine can create a kayak waterway using water supplied from the Canal. The Village of Seneca Falls will soon become a "Kayaker Destination"... filling hotels & restaurants. And getting MORE people out enjoying the NYS Canal System.

After reading this whole report, and I suggest anyone who lives near or neighboring the Canal do so, you will get your own ideas... tell us yours.

Here's mine, and it's dedicated to Fairport & Perinton... based of the new Erie Canal Pocket Neighborhood.

One of the really unique ideas I saw was the NYPA plan to take a piece of unused & neglected canal property, near a current village or town, and turn it from canal desolation to a canal "destination". Use what you have, a bit cleaned up for public use, and get people nearer to the water.

Here's the one that will be done in looks wonderful. Make sure you see the enlarged "before" picture.

There is a place along the canal that is perfect for this.. and has a large underutilized public school right next to it... and it has a couple islands where a gazebo and walking path would be perfect. Some land would need to be cleared, and Fairport is sensitive to that a bit... but what you would get in return...amazing.

Deer play there now... and you can fish all day. It's nice a shallow widewaters, perfect for wading in to launch your kayaks. It's a bit overgrown, some large trees block the view of the water..but it looks better than where the Canastota site looks...a bit more special.

Just think how nice it would be if this transformation could occur. It's kind of overgrown, some locals think it could be made safer. It is also one of the most unique sections of the NYS Canal's main channel.. it runs almost directly north & south. Do you know where it is?

I'm speaking of the Oxbow Lake & Trail... Look in Fairport just west/south of town... where the water gets wide held back by the Oxbow Dam

It would be a perfect place for this type of idea... don't you think? Should we do a poll to collect votes?
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