A group of officials, including Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, stands together at a ribbon-cutting ceremony. They hold scissors poised to cut a blue ribbon that reads "Canal Corporation." This marks the opening of a new 2.1-mile section of the Erie Canalway Trail. The ceremony takes place outdoors, with trees and a road visible in the background.

Canal Recreationway Commission

The New York State Canal Recreationway Commission was created by the New York State Legislature in 1992 under Article XIII-A, Section 138-a of the Canal Law, to advise the NYS Thruway Authority and NYS Canal Corporation on canal-related activities. The NY Power Authority assumed responsibility for the Canal Corporation from the Thruway Authority in 2017.


Upon its formation, the Commission was instructed to develop a conceptual framework for fostering the development of the Canal System into a recreationway system. As a result, the Canal Recreationway Plan  was prepared and was adopted by the Commission in August 1995. In September 1995 the Canal Corporation Board adopted the Recreationway Plan with the stipulation that a detailed schedule of costs, funding and phasing be prepared for the Plan's proposals prior to implementation.

The New York State Canal Revitalization Program was completed in September 1996. The $32.3 million, five-year program presented a realistic approach to Canal System development. It focused on four major elements: Canal Harbors, Canal Service Port and Lock Projects, the Canalway Trail, and a Canal System Marketing Plan.

Commission Membership

The Commission is comprised of 24 members. There are 14 voting members including ten individuals involved in canal use, development, preservation, enhancement, and local governments from counties adjacent to or intersected by the Canal System. These members are appointed by the Governor, with three appointed at the recommendation of the President Pro Tem and Majority Leader of the Senate, and three appointed at the recommendation of the Speaker of the Assembly. The remaining voting membership consists of representatives from four state agencies: the Thruway Authority/Canal Corporation, Department of Transportation, Department of Environmental Conservation and Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

There are ten non-voting members of the Commission, comprised of two state agencies (Department of State and Empire State Development) and eight regional planning boards whose regions are intersected by the Canal System: Lake George-Lake Champlain Regional Planning Board, Capital District Regional Planning Commission, Herkimer-Oneida Counties Comprehensive Planning Program, Central New York Regional Planning Board, Southern Tier East Regional Planning Board, Southern Tier Central Regional Planning Board, Genesee-Finger Lakes Regional Planning Board, and Erie & Niagara Counties Regional Planning Board.

Contact Us

Canal Recreationway Commission
New York State Canal Corporation
30 South Pearl St.
Albany NY 12207
(518) 449-6008

Commission Duties

In addition to maintaining and periodically revising the Canal Recreationway Plan, the primary responsibility of the Commission is to make recommendations concerning the future of the Canal System. Embodied in the Commission's vision are three fundamental goals:

  • Preserving the best of the past.
  • Enhancing recreational opportunities.
  • Fostering appropriate and sustainable economic development.
A man in a suit stands behind a lectern with a microphone. Behind him are banners with the text "New York State Canals" and "Monroe Community College" along with logos. The banner behind him mentions the "Erie Canal Bicentennial Forum" and "Accessible Recreation on the Canalway." This man is likely Brian Stratton, Director of the NY State Canal Corporation, giving opening remarks at the SUNY/Erie Canal Bicentennial Forum Series about accessibility.


NYS Canal Law § 138-a. Canal Recreationway Commission

  • There is hereby established a canal recreationway commission (hereinafter referred to as the "commission") consisting of the following members:
    1. The chairman of the authority, the commissioner of transportation, the commissioner of the office of parks, recreation and historic preservation and the commissioner of environmental conservation, or their representatives;
    2. Ten individuals involved in canal use, development, preservation or enhancement and local governments from counties adjacent to or intersected by the canal system appointed by the governor of whom three shall be appointed at the recommendation of the temporary president of the senate and three shall be appointed at the recommendation of the speaker of the assembly. In appointing such members, the governor shall ensure geographic representation from each of the canal sections encompassing the canal system, including at least one representative from counties in which the Erie, Champlain, Cayuga-Seneca, and Oswego canals are located. In addition, individuals appointed to the commission shall be broadly representative of the following areas of interest: preservation of the environment, the operation of tour boats on the canal, the operation of marinas on the canal, recreational trail users, hunting and fishing, tourism promotion agencies as defined in section one hundred sixty-two of the economic development law, historic preservation, the commercial farming industry and the commercial shipping industry, provided that with respect to appointment of an individual representative of the commercial farming industry or commercial shipping industry, such an individual may reside outside of a county adjacent to or intersected by the canal system if such person holds an ownership interest or senior managerial position in a commercial farming firm or commercial shipping firm, respectively, which regularly uses the canal system in furtherance of its business; and
    3. The commissioner of economic development and the secretary of state, or their representatives, and a member from each of the regional planning boards, as established by articles five-G and twelve-B of the general municipal law, whose region is intersected by the canal shall be ex-officio, non-voting members of the commission and shall provide technical expertise and advice to the commission as necessary.
  • The chairperson of the commission shall be the chairman of the authority. The members of the commission may elect a secretary and other necessary officers to serve for such a period as the members shall decide.
  • Members of the commission, except commissioners of a state agency, chairs of public authorities, the secretary of state, and representatives of regional planning boards shall serve for a term of four years and may be reappointed; however, of those members appointed initially, three such members, one appointed by the governor, one appointed by the temporary president of the senate and one appointed by the speaker of the assembly shall be appointed for terms of two years, and three such members, one appointed by the governor, one appointed by the temporary president of the senate and one appointed by the speaker of the assembly shall be appointed for terms of three years.
  • Any member, except a member who is a state official, after notice and an opportunity to be heard, may be removed by the governor for neglect of duty or misfeasance in office. Any member, except a member who is a state official, who fails to attend three consecutive meetings of the commission, unless excused by formal vote of the commission, shall be deemed to have vacated his or her position.
  • Any vacancy in the commission shall be filled for the unexpired term in the same manner as the original appointment.
  • A majority of the voting members of the commission then in office, at least five of whom are not appointed pursuant to paragraph a of subdivision one of this section, shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of any business or the exercise of any power or function of the commission. An act, determination or decision of the majority of the members present and entitled to vote during the presence of a quorum shall be held to be the act, determination or decision of the commission.
  • The commission shall meet at least quarterly. Special meetings may be called by its chairperson and shall be called by the chairperson at the request of a majority of the members of the commission then in office.
  • Members of the commission shall not receive compensation for their services as members, but shall be allowed their actual and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties.


Commission Member Bios

Stephen Iachetta

Steve Iachetta is a 1985 graduate of Cornell University’s Master of Regional Planning Program. Mr. Iachetta worked in public transportation management 1991-2023 as the principal manager responsible for Federal and State capital project planning and regulatory compliance at Albany International Airport. In this role, he has served as planner and project manager for new Terminal construction, two runway extensions, air cargo development and comprehensive environmental management systems which received numerous awards including the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, Environmental Quality Award.

Mr. Iachetta, He has been a member of the State Canal Recreationway Commission since 2014. He is certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners since 1986 and is Past-President of the American Planning Association 330-member, Capital District Planners Association. He is also a Trustee and Past-President of the Shaker Heritage Society overseeing America’s first Shaker settlement.

Prior to joining the Airport Authority staff, Mr. Iachetta was Senior Planner for the County of Albany from 1984 to 1991 with project management responsibilities for major capital facilities and transportation systems, including but not limited to the 18,000 seat Albany County Civic Center a.k.a. MVP Arena and Downtown Albany Pedestrian Way. Off airport, he can be found playing and rebuilding vintage violins at his home overlooking the Empire Trail and Crescent Lake of the Mohawk River, Erie Canal between Locks 6 and 7.

Doug Cole

Mr. Cole, a civil engineer with more than 31 years of experience and is the Senior Director of Engineering at the PRIME AE Group of NY Albany office. He is responsible for project planning, civil and environmental engineering design, and project management and administration. His areas of specialty include feasibility studies, environmental assessments under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), funding applications, wastewater treatment plant and sewage pumping station design, sewer collection system and water distribution system design, storm water and MS4 projects, coordinating the preparation of construction drawings and specifications, State and Federal permitting, project team oversight, bidding, construction phase administration, and quality assurance/quality control. Mr. Cole currently serves as the Town Designated Engineer for the planning boards in the Town of Princetown, the Town of Rotterdam, the Town of Glenville, the Town of Niskayuna, the Village of Scotia, the Town of Duanesburg, and the Town of Glen.

Kal Wysokowski

Kal Wysokowski recently served as Executive Director of the Finger Lakes Community College Foundation and Director of Grants Development in Canandaigua; she is the former Executive Director of Fairport’s Office of Community + Economic Development. Prior, her time was well spent in Ithaca as Vice President of Business Development at Tompkins County Area Development and Ithaca College.

She currently serves as Chairman and Commissioner of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor and is a member of the Canal Recreationway Commission. Prior commitments include President of the Board of Directors of the Canal Society of NYS, Genesee/Finger Lakes Regional Planning Council, Advisory Board for Canandaigua National Bank, Rochester Regional Community Design Center, Ithaca Community School of Music and Arts, grants panelist for NYSCA, and Finger Lakes REDC Community Development Committee.

Ms. Wysokowski graduated from Ithaca College’s Roy Park School of Communication with a bachelor’s degree and earned a master’s degree from Binghamton University. She lives and plays enjoying spectacular lake views from her home in Canandaigua, NY.

Ken DeRoller

Ken DeRoller is a resident of Orleans County Kendall, NY. He worked for 37 years at Kodak, retiring 19 years ago in the information technology department as a business analyst. He served in the United States Army 1965-1967 and joined the Fire Department and was an active firefighter for 18 years.

Mr. DeRoller served 25 years on the Town Planning Board, including 15 years as its chairman. Instrumental in putting in a revised Town of Kendall zoning Ordinance, and the first time comprehensive master plan. He has been a member of the Kendall Lions Club for 35+ years “We Serve”. Experience in Costal Polices Administration for 24 miles of Lake Ontario Shoreline and 22 Miles of the Erie Canal corridor. He has served on the Canal Recreationway Commissioner since 2018. Served on the Orleans Economic Development Agency since 2002-2021. Orleans County Legislator 2014-2021, representing District #4 (Kendall, Carlton, Murray, and Village of Holley) elected by the voters within that district. The Legislature is divided into ten Standing Committees to carry out the responsibilities of County government more efficiently. Presently on the executive board of Genesee, Livingston, Orleans & Wyoming (GLOW) workforce development and the Orleans County, United Way organization, housing task force.

Fra Putorti

Francis "Fra" Putorti is a businessman who has lived his entire life in Whitehall, New York. For nearly half a century, he and his wife, Cheryl, owned and operated Putorti's Broadway Market—a small grocery store his great-grandmother opened in 1927. They sold that business in 2022, but they are still partners in the Railyard Taproom and Restaurant, also in Whitehall, and have residential rental properties in Whitehall and Lake George. Always an active member of his community, he previously served as Village mayor and trustee, Town councilperson, school board president, and Rotary member, and currently serves on the Planning Board and as a member of the Elks. He and Cheryl have two children, Matthew, and Sondra (married to Steven), and two grandchildren, Jaiden and Beckett.

Michele L. Vennard

Michele Vennard has been in the hospitality industry for more than 30 years. She was the first Director of Sales for the Albany County Convention & Visitors Bureau (now Discover Albany) and after several years returned to lead the CVB as President /CEO for 25 years. Michele also held the position of Deputy Commissioner for the NYS Department of Commerce, representing the tourism program and the I Love NY campaign. Other destination promotion positions have filled out her career.

Michele is currently the Chair of the Albany Capital Center Board of Directors, is a Board member of Hart Cluett Museum, Commissioner of the Canal Corporation Recreation Commission, Canal NY Board member.

Ms. Vennard is a graduate of Russel Sage College (Albany) and a former trustee and Board Chair of the college.

Natalie Stetson

Natalie Stetson has been the executive director of the Erie Canal Museum in downtown Syracuse, NY since 2016 and was appointed to the Canal Recreationway Commission in 2021. Natalie holds an MA in Museum Studies from Syracuse University. She has spent much of her career thinking about and finding ways to engage new audiences at history museums and connect museums to their community. She especially appreciates studying and sharing stories about the Erie Canal because it is like a microcosm of the larger story of America. Although not native to Central New York, she now calls it home and is energized by the revitalization of communities like Syracuse.

Natalie received a BA at the Honors College of Florida Atlantic University with concentrations in American Studies and Literature. She later attended Syracuse University to receive an MA in Museum Studies. Natalie grew up in museums and, in fact, followed in the footsteps of her father, who received his MFA in Museum Studies (then called Museology) from Syracuse University 30 years before she attended.

Commission Meeting Dates, Live Meeting Webcast Links & Past Webcasts