Canal Corp officials, Brockport officials and residents discuss vegetation management project

By on December 4, 2017
Large equipment being used for the Canal Corp vegetation management project sits off Redman Road on Saturday, November 25. K. Gabalski photo

Large equipment being used for the Canal Corp vegetation management project sits off Redman Road on Saturday, November 25. K. Gabalski photo

Brockport Mayor Margaret Blackman says a meeting November 8 between  Canal Corp officials, village leaders and residents regarding the ongoing vegetation management project went well.

“I was pleased they sent out the people they did,” the mayor said, “they answered most of our questions.”

Mayor Blackman said she had been concerned because Canal Corp officials had not agreed to her initial request for another public meeting (the Canal Corp held an informational session October 4 at the College at Brockport), but feels that Canal Corp officials were very candid during the November 8 closed door session. Village deputy-treasurer Erica Linden took notes during the meeting, which are available on the village’s website (www.brockportny.org).

Canal Corp officials attending included Deputy Director John Callaghan, Director of Construction Management Dave Mellen, Project Engineer Mike Wozniak, and New York Power Authority (NYPA) Senior Vice President for Public and Regulatory Affairs Kim Harriman.

Mayor Blackman, Trustee Annie Crane, Building and Code Enforcement Officer David Miller and property owners representing each street affected along the canal in the village were also present.

Dave Mellen explained the purpose of the vegetation management project, noting that a study completed in 2016 to identify risks along embankment sections of the canal showed that, “3.5 miles were identified as the riskiest – where there would be loss of life or significant impact to infrastructure if the canal wall was breached.  Those 3.5 miles are here,” he said.

Mayor Blackman noted Brockport has 70 properties on the canal, a higher density of homeowners than any other area in the project, which includes the villages of Medina and Albion in Orleans County and Brockport, Spencerport, and Pittsford in Monroe County.

Looking southeast along the Erie Canal near the Redman Road bridge where vegetation management work will take place. K. Gabalski photo

Looking southeast along the Erie Canal near the Redman Road bridge where vegetation management work will take place. K. Gabalski photo

Phase I, which is expected to be completed by the end of this year in Medina, Albion and Brockport, includes cutting trees, leaving stumps 2 ft. above grade, and removing smaller brush up to 10 ft. beyond the total slope. Spencerport and Pittsford will be completed by the end of March with all smaller brush clearing to be done by the end of June 2018.

Stump removal will take place in late fall of 2018.

“The bottom line is the earthen embankment retains water, tree roots pose risk, trees that die and have decaying roots can allow seepage, can cause earth to wear away, and trees that are living, or trees that fall over, compromise the embankment,” Dave Mellen said.  “Heavy vegetation impedes adequate inspection of the area.”

Canal Corp officials answered questions from residents and noted that they will return for another public information meeting before stump removal phase of the project begins.

Kim Harriman of NYPA explained that the first thing NYPA did when it received operational control of the canal on January 1, 2017, was to commission the risk analysis.  “Inundation maps show neighborhoods underwater,” she said of results of the study.  “We don’t want that to happen.  We are doing as little as we have to do, but as much as necessary to preserve the safety of those who live along the canal.”

Harriman also noted utilities are conservative and anti-risk enterprises. “We are bringing this mindset to the Canal Corp, which is why you are seeing this change,” she said of the vegetation management project.

The project will be graded and seeded with grass, Harriman said. “We’ve heard good feedback,” she said of the November 8 meeting, “we are trying to be good neighbors.”

Mayor Blackman told the Suburban News and Hamlin-Clarkson Herald the project, which is taking part on land owned by the Canal Corp, will result in big changes for some village residents.  She noted the Canal Corp has said it will work with homeowners on mitigation efforts which might include evergreen shrubs being planted as a border along some sections of the project area.

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