Canalway Trails Association New York (CTANY) is one of the most important organizations behind the 524-mile NYS Canalway Trail System. It is an all-volunteer organization that works both statewide and locally with citizens, state agencies, and municipalities to develop the Canalway Trail System as a world class multi-use recreational trail and international tourism destination. The purpose of CTANY is to promote the completion and proper maintenance of the Canalway Trail across New York State. CTANY acts as a coordination and communication group for Canalway Trail stakeholders, including state agencies, local municipalities, civic organizations, individual volunteers, and trail users. Each year, the organization elects Board Officers who will work to further CTANY’s role across the Canalway Trail System. The following Board Officers were elected in September.
Linda Vishnesky, West Onondaga-Cayuga Regional Trail Group
Linda grew up across the street from the widewaters on Erie Blvd East. She used to ride her bike on Towpath Road to the Butternut Creek Aqueduct with her friends and ice skated on it for years. Her family owned a candy store called “Hadleys Old Erie Candies,” which had a logo featuring canal boat.
In 2008, while volunteering at the Sims Store Museum in Camillus, Linda experienced the Parks & Trails New York’s Cycle the Erie Canal tour. She saw these cyclists from all over the country and the world having such a great time, with every kind of bike and every age of person just loving it. This inspired her to train to do the tour the following year with her husband. “We rode it and then I did it alone the following year. It was one of my most memorable experiences,” remembers Linda. As part of her role helping to complete one of the largest gaps in the Erie Canalway Trail, Linda has worked with stakeholders in Onondaga County to initiate the planning process for eventual trail construction between Camillus and DeWitt.
As a docent in Camillus she works with some of the 2,100 students that come through the Sims Store Museum for the lock demonstration. She also serves on the Education Committee and is a Trail Ambassador who rides from Camillus to Port Byron regularly to check the trail conditions. She serves on the Board here at Camillus Erie Canal Park and manages the Cycle the Erie Canal rest stop the Sims Store hosts. Linda’s commitment to the trail earned her recognition as Volunteer of the Year in 2015. She also belongs to the NYS Canal Society and enjoys visiting canals around the country. Her love for the history of the Erie Canal is apparent based on the fact that she has read every one of the Walter Edmunds books as well as many others written about the Erie Canal. “As a native Central New Yorker, I feel its history is so much a part of me,” says Linda.
Alan and Marlene Bissell have invested time and energy over the last two decades volunteering on NYS canal-related projects. In an effort to help revitalize small waterfront communities they were instrumental in creating Hudson Crossing Park (HCP) centered around Champlain Canal Lock 5 in Schuylerville. The Bissells recently moved to Central NY and passed the park torch to Wally Elton (President), Cindy Wian (Director), and the dedicated volunteers on the HCP Board of Directors.
Alan and Marlene helped John DiMura from Canal Corporation establish the Champlain Canalway Trail Working Group and have served on the CTANY Board of Directors for many years. They are honored to be among recipients of the NYS Canal Tender’s Award and the Conservation Heroes Award from Saratoga PLAN. They are avid environmentalists and backyard birders and have traveled the entire canal system on a pontoon boat converted into a camper.
The Bissells invite Canalway Trail Times readers to explore the many miles of scenic trail and they encourage our elected officials and municipalities to make the completion of all branches of Canalway Trail (Erie, Champlain, Cayuga-Seneca, and Oswego) as a way to spark community economic revitalization and preserve the unique history of the NYS Canal System.
Wally Elton, Central Champlain Regional Trail Group
Having grown up in Brockport, Wally has long been interested in the canal system. Although there was no Erie Canalway Trail then, Wally remembers many people walking the towpath locally for fun. He first became involved with the Canalway Trail and CTANY when he started working at PTNY in 2008. During his time there, he attended CTANY meetings, coordinated the Canal Clean Sweep and the former Canalway Trail Celebration, started the first Trail Ambassadors project in Schenectady/Niskayuna, participated in the Champlain Canalway Trail Working Group (CCTWG), and helped initiate the Closing the Gaps report and the End-to-Enders program. Since retiring, he has remained involved with both CTANY and the CCTWG, written articles for the Canalway Trail Times and, thanks to Marlene, joined the board of Hudson Crossing Park, where he now serves as president. His hope for CTANY this year is that we can fill open slots on the board and increase recognition of the organization and its role in completing the Canalway Trail System.