HENRIETTA, N.Y. (WROC) — A proposed project to celebrate the Erie Canal with a community gathering space, a boat launch, and a recreational node with shops could be underway in Henrietta soon.

It’s not just in Henrietta, either. There are other projects being planned in Brighton and other townships, and it’s all part of the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program.

The project in Henrietta is just one of many other plans, including a river walk trail, a path on East River Road, and improvements to existing parks. The specific waterfront project in Henrietta will cover parts of the Genesee River and a section of the Erie Canal.

Town Supervisor Steve Schultz said the project has many residents excited. 

“There’s a dock along the edge of the canal so boaters can pull up, there are benches the people can sit and watch the boats go by, and then behind that there are shops,” said Schultz.

There’s also the possibility of a swimming pool, however, “swimming pools are very expensive operationally,” said Schultz, adding costs might need to be shared.

For the entire canal, towpath, and boat launch project, as it stands now, there is no cost to Henrietta residents. Schultz is applying via the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. 

“We successfully obtained a grant and most of our contributions are in kind,” said Schultz.

So much of this, according to Schultz, relies on working with other municipalities and organizations in and around the town. “Like I said, obviously, with this particular project, the JCC has been a great partner.”

Josh Weinstein with the Louis Wolk Jewish Community Center in Brighton just announced they are creating a community campus on the canal on their property.

He said Schultz reached out regarding a revitalization project. 

“And so we’ve really come up with something that’s transformational. That would be a boat house village and a boat launch right here,” said Weinstein. “We’re fortunate that New York State has this waterfront revitalization program.”

Schultz said for this, they needed the JCC “because the JCC property on Brighton-Henrietta Town Line goes right through the middle of the property.”

In Henrietta, creating a canal path and towpath village will be a long-term project to complete, about 5-plus years. Constructing a boat launch along the Erie Canal boat launch will be a short-term project, about 1-2 years to finish. 

Read more about the plan for Henrietta here and view a detailed description of the project below:

Creating Canalside Park and Towpath Village:

Project Description: Celebrates the Erie Canal by creating a community gathering space and commercial/recreational node accessible via the Erie Canalway Trail, the Erie Canal, and surrounding neighborhood. The Canalside Park and Towpath Village will create a node of retail space with shops (e.g., ice-cream shop, small café, and/or kayak rental), a public plaza, restrooms, and a park with an amphitheater, swimming pool, rentable pavilions, and nature trails. A pier along the Erie Canalway Trail will allow boaters to tie up to enjoy the amenities as well. The project will also promote sustainability by constructing a food waste vermiculture composting site across the canal on Town-owned land that works with food vendors of the Towpath Village and beyond. Project Benefits: Reconnects the public to the Erie Canal by providing a unique visitor experience; provides fiscal sustainability by incorporating uses that will contribute additional tax revenue for the Town of Henrietta; addresses the lack of swimming opportunities for members of the public; decreases food waste and contributes to environmental sustainability initiatives; demonstrates locally how active transportation can be prioritized over automobile traffic via site design. Potential Funding Sources: NYS Environmental Protection Fund, NYSDEC, DASNY, Canalway Corporation Potential Permitting: Will be determined during engineering study. Potential Partners: Louis S. Wolk of Greater Rochester Jewish Community Center and Town of BrightonTimeframe: Long Term (5+ years).

Creating Boat Launch:

Project Description: Facilitates boat access from the Town of Henrietta to the Erie Canal by extending an existing access road and creating a boat launch with associated trailer parking. The launch will be designed for small boats only (20’ length or shorter), including canoes and kayaks. A handicap-accessible kayak launch will also be included alongside the launch. The boat launch will be similar to the boat launch located east of Lock 32 in Pittsford. The south side access road will be extended to the launch and will include turn-around areas for trailers loading boats. Car and trailer parking will be along the road so as to minimize the potential impact to nearby wetlands. The new road will utilize the same entry as the existing access/service road. The second phase of the project includes a small shelter for an invasive species watercraft inspector, as are present at many New York State boat launches. Project Benefits: Provides a new and more publicly accessible way to enjoy Lock 33 from the water; provides easy access from the street and adequate parking for trailers for boaters while not interfering with the operation of the lock (access areas located across the canal are too close to the lock operations for a safe launch location); increases public awareness of the canal while preventing the spread of invasive species.Potential Funding Sources: NYS Environmental Protection Fund, NYS Canal Corporation, NYSDEC Potential Permitting: DEC Wetlands, SEQR, SHPOPotential Partners: NYSDEC, NYS Canal CorporationTimeframe: Short (1-2 years)