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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 Thruway Authority/Canal Corporation on canal-related activities.

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.

Canal Recreationway Plan and Canal Revitalization Program

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.

Both the Canal Recreationway Plan and Revitalization Program envisioned the construction of seven harbors at gateways and key destinations along the Canal System. Six of the harbors have been constructed in Whitehall, Waterford, Seneca Falls, Oswego, Rochester and the Tonawandas. The seventh harbor, in Little Falls, is scheduled for construction in 2002. These harbor facilities include a variety of boater services and amenities.

Section 384 of Thruway 2000 legislation authorized the Thruway Authority to undertake and finance certain transportation projects, including the Syracuse Inner Harbor. Public improvements that have been completed include construction of an amphitheater/pavilion area, 1,000 feet of waterfront promenade, docking space and ample parking. With these improvements, the Inner Harbor is now ready for private investment.

In an effort to improve canal frontage at lock sites and municipalities along the Canal System, ninety-six Service Port and Lock projects of varying complexity were proposed in the Recreationway Plan. Close to half of the identified sites have started improvement efforts. Some of the completed sites are in Mechanicville, Holley, Palmyra and Canajoharie.

Under the Revitalization Program approximately 40 miles of Canalway Trail have been developed, resulting in 230 miles of completed Canalway Trail statewide. When completed, it will be a continuous 500 mile trail and will be the longest in the country, making it a significant eco-tourism destination. The Canalway Trail will also expand close-to-home recreational opportunities, providing quality of life benefits to canal community residents.

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.

For more information, call the Commission office at (518) 449-6026 or write:

Canal Recreationway Commission
New York State Canal Corporation
P.O. Box 189
Albany, NY 12201-0189