Black Creek designated an Inland Waterway

By on September 5, 2016
Black Creek this summer was designated an Inland Waterway by New York State. The designation opens up opportunities for grant funding, which may result in the extension of the West Shore Trail in Churchville. K. Gabalski photo

Black Creek this summer was designated an Inland Waterway by New York State. The designation opens up opportunities for grant funding, which may result in the extension of the West Shore Trail in Churchville. K. Gabalski photo

Following efforts by the Village of Churchville, State Assembly members Steve Hawley and Harry Bronson, State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer and Monroe County Legislator Steve Brew,  New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation designating Black Creek an Inland Waterway this July.

The state’s Coastal and Inland Waterways Program is administered by the Department of State and carried out in partnership with local governments and state and federal agencies. It ensures the protection and best use of the state’s coastal and inland water resources and promotes the revitalization of waterfront communities.

“I am so pleased to have Black Creek designated as an Inland Waterway,” Churchville Mayor Nancy Steedman says. “This designation makes public property eligible for grant monies.”

The mayor explains that the idea to seek the designation came up while she was searching for grant funding for the village and found revitalization funds for public land along Black Creek were only available if the creek was designated an Inland Waterway.

Because of illness, Mayor Steedman set the project aside, but returned to it earlier this year. She says her hope is to use the designation to acquire grant funds, which would help pay for extending the West Shore Trail. The Trail begins at Howard Avenue in the village and runs west along the former West Shore Railroad. It crosses Buffalo Road and continues to Churchville Park – a Monroe County Park.

In addition to the support of county and state lawmakers, the Black Creek Watershed Coalition and the Churchville Chamber of Commerce also supported the designation effort, Mayor Steedman says.
Some private property owners have expressed concerns over the designation, Mayor Steedman notes, but grant funding is available only for public properties.

Churchville is the sole village situated along Black Creek, which winds through Wyoming, Genesee and Monroe Counties before flowing into the Genesee River in Chili. Mayor Steedman said the Town of Chili may eventually take advantage of the designation to improve its parkland where the creek and river meet. The Chili location also links up with the Genesee Valley Greenway Trail.

A view looking east of the West Shore Trail in Churchville. K. Gabalski photo

A view looking east of the West Shore Trail in Churchville. K. Gabalski photo

Extending the West Shore Trail north to Black Creek will mean working with the Monroe County Parks Department and the Churchville-Chili School District as land along the creek runs through Churchville Park. The school district owns land along the creek where the Sprucewood Nature Center is located on the Churchville Elementary School grounds.

Mayor Steedman says the village has met with Larry Staub, director of the Monroe County Parks Department and Dave Rinaldo, deputy director, both of whom were very receptive to the plan. “It was nice the county was excited about it,” Mayor Steedman says. “They are willing to partner with us.”

She says the county has designated funds for park and golf course improvements for 2018 and she hopes that by that time, the village might have acquired grant funding for the trail extension. “It benefits the community,” Mayor Steedman says of the project.  “It’s a benefit to residents to have that walkability.”

She hopes to extend the trail to the school property as a first phase and then work towards extending the trail to where it can link up with sidewalks leading downtown.  That would create a walking loop around the west side of the village, she notes.

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