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Erie Canalway funding goes toward preservation projects

Ellen Abbott
A portion of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor through DeWitt.

The Erie Canal Corridor in upstate New York is getting a boost from some federal dollars.

Federal funds from the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor will go to 10 education and preservation projects from the Albany area to Buffalo. The $44,000 in grants will leverage an additional $165,000 in private funds to create teachers guides, murals, and historical markers.

The town of DeWitt will use funds to promote a bike ride, but it all fits in with long term canal plans. Supervisor Ed Michalenko says ultimately the town wants to create a pond and park in an area that many people don’t even know has an Erie Canal connection, at a highly trafficked intersection along Erie Boulevard.

“It’s our hope to reemphasize that corridor, to restore what we can, and it’s certainly what we’re planning on doing is building a green space and park next to storm run off on Erie Boulevard and Bridge Street,” said Michalenko.

The village of Baldwinsville will use some of the funds for “memory markers.” Mayor Dick Clarke says it’s help like this that has made a big difference in his village.

“Our waterway is now vibrant, it is the source of a great tourism opportunity for us. If you stand on the bridge over the canal, there are five or six restaurants within 20 or 300 yards where you are. It’s no accident they’re near the water. The water has become the heart of our village,” said Clarke.

Erie Canalway Director Bob Randall says this investment is worth it, because canal projects boost communities.

"It’s an economic driver. There’s no question. It’s my favorite expenditure of my tax dollar other than my social security check,” said Randall.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.