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Canal Corporation postponing work to cut down trees along the Erie Canal

Residents spoke up at a meeting Monday about their concerns

Rochester, N.Y. (WROC_TV) - UPDATE:

Following a number of meetings held in towns throughout Monroe County, the Canal Corporation made the decision to postpone further work on its vegetation management project until February 2018. 

County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo sent a letter to the Canal Corporation on Monday, calling on them to suspend their work due to significant public concerns raise by a number of local residents. Read the statement below.

Dinolfo released the following statement upon learning the Canal Corporation's decision:

“I thank the State Canal Corporation for making the prudent decision to postpone further work on its vegetation management project to allow for additional opportunities for public input. The Corporation should be credited for heeding the calls of residents who expressed strong concerns that the project could hurt our local towns and villages that rely on the Canal for economic and recreational opportunities. However, I am today reiterating my request that the Corporation should fully extend the postponement period through late 2018. 

I especially want to thank Perinton Supervisor Mike Barker, Pittsford Supervisor Bill Smith, and Brighton Supervisor Bill Moehle for their leadership and advocacy. I am pleased that a common sense solution was reached in this case and I encourage residents to make their voices heard in the public comment process moving forward.” 

The Canal Corporation said Tuesday they temporarily suspended the embankment maintenance work due to the onset of cold and snowy conditions, as well as associated potential safety concerns. They say the work is scheduled to resume once the weather permits. They will hold two meetings in January to meet with communities impacted. Dates and locations have not yet been set for those meetings.

Letter From County Executive Dinolfo by WROC Channel 8 on Scribd


For Linda Isaacson-Fedele, the Canal Corporation's big plan along the Erie Canal is a big concern.

"In this time of climate change when trees are what is pulling carbon out of the air, we really cannot mindlessly afford to be chopping down trees,” Isaacson-Fedele said.

She wasn’t the only one speaking up. Many came out to tell town supervisors from Brighton, Pittsford and Perinton exactly how they feel.

"Safety is going to be the number one concern,” Dean Bonner of Pittsford said. “Those canal beds are old and weak and if they do something like this, it could weaken them completely and there will be mass flooding.”

The Canal Cooperation wasn't there to answer questions, but in a statement to News 8, they reiterated the reasons why they're cutting down trees:

The embankments were once clear of trees.

Now, there's too much vegetation and it could potentially weaken the canal walls.

Pittsford Town Supervisor Bill Smith isn't totally convinced.

"We need hear more of the research that was done; more of the engineering analysis that was done,” Smith said.

Isaacson-Fedele said she also wants more information, but isn't confident anything will stop the project from moving forward.

They've already cut down trees in Albion, Spencerport, Brockport and Medina.

"It seems like people think for the benefit of making a profit that nature is expendable and I’m sick of it,” she said.

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