FAIRPORT, N.Y. (WROC) — The Erie Canal is officially back open for boat traffic. It was unclear for awhile if it would reopen this summer at all due to COVID-19.
Boaters are already starting to dock on the canal again in Fairport. People travel from nearby towns and bring in a lot of tourism for the area. They dock and stay all day, grab some food or a drink, and help local businesses thrive. Business owners said they’re ready to start seeing their boating regulars again.
“They all are looking for a place to eat, a place to have a cocktail or so, and we are right off the canal so they come here fairly regularly,” said Jose Abarca, owner of Lulu Taqueria.
Abarca said normally hundreds of people are docked on the canal every day in the summer.
“We have experienced some increase, but not quite to the levels of the previous years.”
Tracy Paladino owns the Ice Cream Factory. She also said boat traffic has been slow, but expects it to pick up soon.
“I think in the next couple of months we’ll see more business on the canal as people are more comfortable being out and about so I expect that there will be more of an impact in the next month or two where we’ll see more of our friends from the canal,” said Paladino.
One boat back in the dock in Fairport as of Tuesday- is the canal tour boat the Colonial Belle. Julie Domaratz is the mayor of the Village of Fairport and said this day is always a symbol of the beginning of summer.
“It’s a big impact to the summertime tourism, it’s not just the boats, it’s the Colonial Belle and the boats that come in more, but it’s also the people that come and walk and bike along the canal and just like to be out in nature and having an active lifestyle,” said Domaratz.
The lift bridge in Fairport has been under construction since last September. It’ll be finished this coming November and the mayor said construction has been able to stay on track during the pandemic.