Reimagine the Canals Competition Seeks Ideas for the Canal’s Next 200 Years
New York’s Canal System has been the source of many celebrations recently. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Barge Canal, the name by which the Canal System—which includes the Erie, Oswego, Cayuga-Seneca and Champlain canals–was formerly known by. Last year, marked the bicentennial of the start of the Erie Canal’s construction. And given that the Canal was not completed until 1825, there will be a lot more to celebrate in the years to come.
But the Erie Canal is not a historic relic. It remains a vital waterway for New York State. But how to make it relevant for current and future generations? Enter New York Power Authority President and CEO Gil C. Quiniones. NYPA assumed operating control of the canals last year. Quiniones, who has a national reputation as a leading innovator in the electric utility industry, conceived of the $2.5 million Reimagine the Canals Competition, which seeks to reward the best ideas to leverage the canals to promote economic development and enable them to become an engine for tourism and recreation throughout the 524-mile canal corridor.
The response was overwhelming. After the competition was unveiled at the World Canals Conference in Syracuse last September, NYPA and the Canal Corporation received 145 entries from nine countries. An international panel of judges narrowed down the list of finalists to seven. All are intriguing in their own right, but two that might be of particular interest to PTNY members include one that would develop overnight accommodations for recreational users of the Canal System. Another envisions a multi-day race that would include a component for bikers and hikers. Entries are due in July. The winners will be announced in the early fall. For more information, go to www.canals.ny.gov/reimaginethecanals.