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New CTANY Board Officers Elected

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.

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President

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.

Vice President
Marlene Bissell

Treasurer
Alan Bissell

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.

Secretary
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.

Visit our website to learn more about CTANY, including how you can contact your local regional trail group director or participate in the organization.

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Trail Tender Award Recognizes Old Erie Canal State Park Trail Ambassador

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Trail Ambassador Dave Kellogg at Cedar Bay Bridge in DeWitt

Congratulations to Canalway Trail Ambassador Dave Kellogg on his recent receipt of the 2016 Trail Tender Award. The Trail Tender Award recognizes the valuable contribution of individuals to promoting, enhancing, and completing the 524-mile New York State Canalway Trail system. Dave has been an active trail user for more than three decades, and over the course of the past two years has ridden hundreds of miles in Old Erie Canal State Park between DeWitt and Rome as a Trail Ambassador. See below for a profile of Dave and his interest in the trail.

  1. How long have you been riding on the Canalway Trail?

We moved here in 1980, and we chose our home partly because of its proximity to the Canal. I ran more in those days and early on marked out a measured mile along the trail using my bike and counting wheel revolutions. Runners used it for years until the markers deteriorated. So to answer your question, 36 years minus the 5 years we lived in Puerto Rico = 31 years. And yes, I took my bike to P.R.

  1. What is your average time/mileage on the trail?

My exercise calendars show I’ve cycled an average of 1,000 miles per year over the past 5 years. Not all of that has been on the Canal, but the vast majority has been Canal-related. One of the PTNY priorities has been to “promote bicycling for … towns and their economic development”.  Showing up at a local store on a bike to let owners know about the Canal and its cyclists helps address that priority. My time spent on the Canal this year (through August) is approaching 50 hours. (See #4 for comments about miles and time.)  I’ve also spoken about the Canal to two small groups.

Occasionally, there’s an opportunity for some Trail maintenance, from branches across the trail to litter to addressing some delinquency.

 

  1. What do you like best about the Trail and your involvement with the trail?

People react to the Trail and the Canal in different ways. Some ways are obvious, like exercise, training and fitness. Other visitors get caught up in the history or engineering. Some want to experience nature: seeing a Great Blue Heron, a beaver or, less frequently and therefore more exciting, a Bald Eagle. All these people are willing to share their interests and passions if given just a little encouragement. With this encouragement the Canalway Trail is quite possibly the friendliest community in the country. Here’s an example of community, friendliness and impact. A young woman just relocated to the Syracuse area from her native state of Colorado to join her boyfriend who works at Syracuse University. The three of us met along the Trail and started talking about the simple pleasures the Canal offers. Suddenly, the woman changed the topic and burst out with, “I’m on the Erie Canal!”  I guess my reaction was not strong enough, so she brought her face closer to mine and said with emphasis,”I mean I’m on the Erie Canal.  I’m actually on the Erie Canal.”  To me it seemed she was reliving that portion of her childhood when she first learned about the Canal and probably sang the famous Canal song and maybe imagined her ancestors starting on the Erie Canal on their way west. That’s the impact the Canal can have on some.

 

The Barbershop Quartet:  This certainly wasn’t the first time musical entertainment was incorporated into Cycle the Erie. And it may not have been the first Barbershop group to serenade the cyclists.  However, it may have been the first time actually on the Canalway Trail and in the Dewitt area. It was an idea that seemed to flow from the 1890s song, “Daisy, Daisy, etc.”  Wouldn’t it be neat to ride around a curve on the Canal and encounter a group of singers wearing straw hats and red and white stripped vests? Well, it was pretty neat and possibly the most photographed spot on the ride.

 

  1. What advice do you have for others considering using the trail or helping “Tend the Trail?

We can count miles on the Canalway Trail or keep track of hours spent but the most revealing information in my mind does not come from metrics but from narratives, the interactions with people.  Without exception each person I’ve encountered is happy to talk and has an interesting and even exciting story to tell.  Some are long distance travelers:
– Several End-to-Enders, Buffalo to Albany
– Peter from Dublin: NYC to Buffalo, then Canada, etc.
– Casey, a retired truck driver who has been to 48 states in an 18-wheeler and is now visiting them on two wheels.

– Dusty and Angie, going Coast to Coast

– A fellow who was on his 17th (that’s right, seventeenth!) cross country trip, this one from Nova Scotia to Seattle.

– And no one will forget Bernice Ende who arrived on horseback on her way from Montana to Maine.

My list is 46 individuals, not including a variety of organizations such as the local Chamber of Commerce, the Day Care Kids, several merchants and especially Fleet Feet who sponsor long runs on the Canal.

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MV Alpiners Bring Sanctuary to ECT

mv-alpiners-benchMohawk Valley Alpiners, a hiking club based in Herkimer County, spent a day last month giving back to the Erie Canalway Trail. On October 14, members of the club cleared invasive species, such as European Buckthorn, that crowd the edges of the trail, opening up a new trailside refuge area where they also installed a bench. The bench is located in an area just before a large drop off, affording trail users a unique view of the old Erie Canal.

mv-alpinersclearing-the-trailThe Mohawk Valley Alpiners have taken trail maintenance to a new level by showing that they not only want to make the trail a much more ecologically sustainable place, but also a much more enjoyable place for all. If you’re interested in adopting a section of the Canalway Trail near you, visit the Canalway Trail Adopt-a-Trail website.

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Meet Erie Canalway Trail End-to-Ender Ann Neal-Levi

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Ann and Aaron follow the Yellow Brick Road in Chittenango

Ann and Aaron follow the Yellow Brick Road in Chittenango

Of the almost 800 people who complete the Erie Canalway Trail End-to-End each year, less than a handful make the trip on foot. Ann Neal-Levi and her husband Aaron of Bellingham, Washington are among those who prefer the slower pace that affords End-to-End hikers. This July, they spent 26 days walking the Erie Canalway Trail from Albany to Buffalo. Ann kept a detailed description of each day of her trip on her blog, Bellingham Walks.

Ann and Aaron’s days long trek gave them the unique opportunity to experience the scenery, history, and small town charm that make the Erie Canalway Trail a popular destination for cyclists in a more intimate way. Their cross-state stroll took them along the Erie Canal and into communities filled with curious and supportive residents and business owners. They encountered a pig farm in the Mohawk Valley, took a tour of the historic aqueduct at Schoharie Crossing, observed some wildlife native to the Canal Corridor, admired the engineering marvel of the Flight of Five Locks in Lockport, and crossed paths with the more than 650 bicyclists participating in Parks & Trails New York’s Cycle the Erie Canal tour.

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Ann and Aaron finish their 26-day long End-to-End trek at Canalside in Buffalo

Some days were more difficult than others, but at the end of each day nothing felt better than giving the legs a rest and sleeping heavily through the night in their tent. On day 26, after a long and exhausting 22-mile hike that started in Amherst, they finally arrived to a festive atmosphere at Buffalo’s Canalside, presumably feeling just as accomplished as the original 19th century Erie Canal trekkers felt after the long trip across New York State.

No matter where they went they benefited from the kindness of the people they met. Ann wrote that “the Erie Canalway Trail provided a consistent way forward, strewn with a variety of challenging challenges, meant to exercise our commitment and endurance, as well as many open, generous, and heartfelt human exchanges, meant to strengthen our belief and trust in the goodness of the human community.”

Congratulations, Ann and Aaron, on your impressive accomplishment and on becoming an Erie Canalway Trail End-to-Ender.

Are you an Erie Canalway Trail End-to-Ender? Register and tell us your story here.

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200 Years on the Erie Canal

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2017 marks the 200th anniversary of the beginning of Erie Canal construction. A number of statewide and local celebrations to honor the legacy of the Erie Canal will take place throughout the year. Statewide planning efforts are underway, guided by an Erie Bicentennial Committee directed by the NYS Canal Corporation. Here’s a look at several things being planned:

  • Kickoff celebration in Rome commemorating the ceremonial groundbreaking for the Erie Canal that took place in July 1817;
  • Waterway Tours by the replica canal schooner Lois McClure operated by the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, and orchestral tours by the Albany Symphony Orchestra and Syracuse Symphonia;
  • World Canals Conference in Syracuse, September 24-28, including major public events;
  • Erie Canal exhibit opening at the NYS Museum in Albany in the fall of 2017;
  • New York State grants offered by Canal Corporation and the NYS Council on the Arts, through Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council program, are being targeted for bicentennial-related investments and community programs. Awards will be announced in December.
  • Erie Canalway National Heritage Cooridor, in partnership with the NYS Canal Corporation, will target a portion of 2017 festival and event sponsorship funds for community events that celebrate the bicentennial. Watch for applications in January.

For more information, contact William Sweitzer at the NYS Canal Corporation at (518) 436-3055, William.Sweitzer@canals.ny.gov

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Photo courtesy of Dave Valvo

Open for Business: Wayne County Looks at Impact of Trail Tourism

PTNY and the NYS Canal Corporation hit the road in October, bringing Bicyclists Bring Business events to the Wayne County communities of Savannah and Newark.

The Evening Program

For the first time in 2016, the evening portion of Bicyclists Bring Business was offered as part of a larger program, a Nature-based Tourism Summit at the Montezuma Audubon Center in Savannah. Since the Canal Corridor offers such a range of recreational and cultural opportunities, it made sense to compliment the bikes bring business message and tips with presentations on birding, hunting, and fishing and the economic opportunities they present. The Montezuma Audubon Center was a great venue for this collaboration as the Montezuma complex boasts a range of recreational opportunities, including birding, boating, and hunting. A presentation from Montezuma’s Executive Director Chris Lajewski hinted at future cycling routes through the complex.

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Attendees came from across central and western New York, and included a mix of cyclists, birders, business owners, and representatives from local governments, Wayne County and relevant state agencies.

PTNY’s presentation, sprinkled heavily with cycling terminology and jargon, provided some background on cycling tourists, and the economic impact of the Erie Canalway Trail. Then all in attendance were asked to participate in a conceptual group ride to two of North America’s most developed trail systems, the Great Allegheny Passage and L’Petit Train du Nord. A quick spin through best practices for attracting and catering to cycling tourist followed.

Canal Corporation led the warm down phase of the cycling portion of the program, previewing the Canal Bicentennial celebration and the 2017 World Canals Conference.

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Of course, progress in Closing the Gaps in the Canalway Trail was a topic of discussion. Eastern Wayne County is home to one of the largest remaining gap sections. Ora Rothfus from Wayne County Planning & Economic Development walked those assembled through the trail alignment, both existing and proposed, as it moves through the County. Ora’s presentation showed that while there is much work to be done, Wayne County does not lack for stakeholder involvement or opportunities for trail connections.

Jim Eckler from NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, and Chris Kenyon from Wayne County tourism provided data and anecdotes about the significant impact that hunting and fishing have for local economies in Wayne County.

The Bike-a-Round

Wednesday’s chilly weather failed to put the brakes on the second component of Bicyclists Bring Business, the community Bike-a-Round. This year’s parcours was Newark, the largest city in Wayne County. A group of 10 riders spent about two hours on the trail and in the Village of Newark, looking for ways in which the community could better publicize existing amenities, attractions, and services as well as suggesting additional steps that would better serve trail tourists. Mark Peake from the Village of Newark provided motorized SAG (Support and Guidance), meeting cyclists at many of the pre-determined discussion locations to point out steps Newark has taken and to listen to ideas from the group. After observing, discussing, and enjoying Newark, participants gathered for a lunch discussion and debrief at Parker’s Grille & Tap House.

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Thanks, and let’s keep talking!

Wayne County proved a great venue for this year’s B3 events. With the County recently completing new trail sections, and a working group meeting to close the remaining gaps, it was the right time to get together to discuss opportunities that a completed trail will bring, as well as the connections between the various recreational pursuits that bring visitors to Wayne County. With feedback from participants from both events, PTNY is currently preparing a summary report and recommendations for next steps.

Special thanks is in order for Chris Lajewski of the Montezuma Audubon Center for hosting the event, Ron Palladino from the Wayne County Business Council for organizing a great program, and Glenn Wallis from Trail Works for planning our Newark Bike-a-Round! We’d also like to thank Wayne County Tourism, Wayne County Planning & Economic Development, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Village of Newark, Wayne County Cornell Cooperative Extension, and SOAR (Strengthening Our Area Residents).

As always, the New York State Canal Corporation makes Bicyclists Bring Business possible.

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CUSE Cycle Hits the Trail

Have you noticed the new bike share docks and bikes at Onondaga Lake Park? You may have seen several bright white bikes with orange tires docked next to each other in the Willow Bay parking lot. If you have, you’ve been introduced to CUSE Cycle, a new bike sharing system on East and West Shore Trails that parallel the shoreline.

CUSE Cycle is the brainchild of Dave McKie and McKie Sports, a sporting goods store on State Fair Boulevard in Syracuse. While the shop focuses on hockey equipment, they’ve also rented bike and rollerblades out of a garage at Wegman’s Landing on the east shore of Onondaga Lake for 20 years. In 2016, owner Dave McKie unveiled a new two-wheeled service, CUSE Cycle. Modeled on the CitiBike system in NYC, CUSE Cycle allows users to use their smart phone to rent a bike for a day or week, or to purchase an annual membership. Daily and weekly users have access to the bike for 24 hours, but must check into a dock every 30 minutes or they will be charged a fee. Annual members can use the bike any time for up to an hour each use, and are charged less for going over the time limit.

CUSE Cycle chose an equipment vendor, Republic Bikes, known for both quality of product and technological innovations that keep costs down and save energy. Each CUSE bike is outfitted with a solar panel and Bluetooth wireless technology to power and facilitate rental, docking, and tracking. They are sturdy and easy to use, with regular maintenance performed by McKie Sports.

2016 served as a trial run for the service on Onondaga Lake. 15 bikes and three docking stations were put in service on September 1, and operated until October 18. Each dock had eight parking slots to avoid overcrowding. Dave McKie reported that most users were happy with the service, and that several members purchased annual memberships which will allow them to use the service until next September. There were some technical issues, and difficulties experienced by some users with the smart phone app prompted installation of additional signage and information at the docking stations.cusecyclemap

In 2017, CUSE Cycle will expand to 20 bikes and four stations. Luckily for Erie Canalway Trail fans, the new station will be located in the parking area for the Lakeview Ampitheater and the NYS Fairgrounds, relatively close to the trailhead at Reed Webster Park/Warner’s Road. Depending on weather, bikes and stations should be installed in March or April.

Welcome to the Canal Corridor CUSE Cycle!