By Tammy Whitacre, Wayne Post, link to original post
After more than three years waiting for final approval, construction on the canal trail connecting Newark and Lyons is ready to begin.
Representatives from the state Department of Transportation and the Canal Corporation joined local officials, including County Board Chairman Jim Hoffman, Lyons Supervisor Brian Manktelow and Newark Mayor Peter Blandino, for a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday morning (May 9) near Lock 28B at Clinton and VanBuren streets in the village of Newark — an area once known as Lockville. The ceremony was culmination of many years of waiting for grant funding to become available and then for the necessary permits to be approved.
“This groundbreaking ceremony honors all the hard work and cooperation that has gone into this venture to serve our local citizens, as well as so many others from across Wayne County, New York state and beyond with healthy leisure activities and green transportation options,” Arcadia Supervisor Dick Colacino said.
The trail through Wayne County beginning in Macedon, started back in 1988 when Mark DeCracker presented a proposal to Sen. Patrick Moynihan. “I couldn’t believe the Erie Canal had been forgotten,” DeCracker said.
Soon cleanups started along the canal to clear away excessive brush and garbage. By the late 1990s, trails began to be built in different sections across the state. Locally, the trail was first installed from Fairport to Palmyra, then Palmyra to Newark — but they ended there at the East Avenue bridge. Maps along the canal trail show the trail continues, but the project was never completed.
In 2008, Colacino said they were notified the grant money was available again. The holdup came in applying for the permits, until Colacino went to the then new director of the state Canal Corporation Brian Stratton, who was on hand at the ceremony last week, asking for his help to complete the process and jumpstart the project.
Said Colacino: “So many people ask me, ‘where does the canal trail go from here?’” I’ll be so glad I don’t have to answer that question anymore.”
Work on the trail is expected to begin on May 14. Crews will clearing brush along VanBuren Street, which turns into Old Lyons Road. About a mile of the trail, which will start at the East Avenue bridge, will run along the north side of the road, Coacino said, where blacktop will be put down to mark the trail. From there the trail will run along the canal for the remaining five-mile stretch, which will be a stone dust path. Signage and kiosks will be placed along the trail to mark historic spots. They hope to complete the project within two years. “Some of the most historic sites along the Erie Canal are right here in Newark,” Colacino said.
DeCracker said one is Lock 56, one of the original locks. He and Colacino hope to eventually to build side spurs off the trail to draw people to these sites.
Special permit approval has allowed Arcadia town highway crews to do the work. Without it, the project would have died. “If our town highway couldn’t do the work, we couldn’t afford to do this project,” Colacino said.
The project cost is estimated at about $1.1 million. The grant will fund $882,451 and the remaining $220,612.80 will be made up by the local share, which is being split by the county, the towns of Lyons and Arcadia and the village of Newark. Some $60,000 was approved a year ago by the county to fund the project. Part of Arcadia’s contribution includes in kind services.
“I was glad Brian Stratton could take time to be at the groundbreaking and for all the help the Canal Corporation has done for the project,” Colacino said. “None of this would’ve been possible without the cooperation of Wayne County, the village of Newark, the town of Lyons and the town of Arcadia working together.”
To bike existing portions of the Erie Canalway Trail from Lockport to Newark, pick up the guidebooks: Take Your Bike – Family Rides in the Rochester NY Area and Take Your Bike – Family Rides in New York’s Finger Lakes Region.