New York State is pumping about $1 million in grants into 12 projects along the Erie Canal, and the Village of Brockport received one of those grants; a $75,000 grant to complete phase one of the Brockport Rowing and Canal Development Project. The aim of the project is to develop the infrastructure needed to support recreational and competitive rowing programs in Brockport and along the western section of the Erie Canal. Completion of this project is part of the Village of Brockport’s continuing canal development in support of its plan for economic growth.
New York State Canal Corporation Director Brian U. Stratton said this about the grants, “The Canal system attracts everyone from outdoor enthusiasts to students of history and everything in between and the grants we have provided to municipalities throughout upstate are vital to their growth.” In addition to Brockport, the other municipalities that received the grants are: the Village of Baldwinsville, the Village of Cazenovia, the Village of Fonda, the Village of Fultonville, the Village of Green Island, the Town of Halfmoon, Montgomery County, the Town of Niskayuna, the Village of Palmyra, Schenectady County, and the Village of Waterloo.
The grants are intended to support improvement projects along the Erie Canal, and each project will benefit its respective municipality through investment in the functionality and beautification of areas surrounding the Erie Canal and Canalway Trail, in order to promote recreation and tourism. Here is the summary of the Canalway Grant Project as published by the Village.
“The Village of Brockport will undertake the Brockport Rowing and Canal Development Project, the first phase of a larger plan to develop recreational and competitive rowing programs in the Village and along the western section of the Erie Canal. Through this project, the Village will work with the NYS Canal Corporation to develop a Canal Corp-owned parcel of land just north of the Canal and Park Avenue Bridge at the intersection of Fayette Street and Lyman Street. Development will include: clearing of underbrush from the site and taking down some trees; possible infill; construction of an earthen ramp leading up to Fayette Street; a cement pad for the boat shed; installation of a shed to house rowing shells; chain link fencing around shed; as well as boat and oar racks. Additionally, the Village will attach a permanent floating dock and ramp appropriate for rowing to the north bank of the Canal, several hundred feet east of the Park Avenue Bridge. Finally, the project involves purchase of a used 4 shell (4 person boat), wakeless launch boat, oars, engine, a cox box, and megaphone to support rowing activities.
“The total cost of this project is $161,314, with a 50% match. The Village is requesting grant funding in the amount of $79,163, which will cover all materials, the dock, ramp, wakeless launch boat, engine, used 4 shell, oars, cox box, and megaphone. Approximately $58,751 is currently committed in the form of Village DPW labor and equipment; $7,400 in the form of cash donations; and $8,000 in the form of a donation of a boat and oars. $8,000 in cash match from fundraisers and donations in 2016. Total match funding is $82,151.”
Installing a floating dock and ramp (appropriate for small boats) to the north bank of the Canal near the Park Avenue bridge seems to be a good idea, when you consider the fact that Brockport does not have a boat launch. According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, going west on the Erie Canal, the nearest public boat launch site to Brockport is the boat ramp in Sans Soucie Parkin Clarkson, just north of the intersection of Route 31 and Monroe-Orleans County Line Road.
The boat ramp in Sans Soucie Park is operated by the NYS Canal Corporation, and it has a concrete ramp, plus parking spots for 17 cars and trailers. However, that boat ramp is in the middle of no place about one and a half miles west of Main Street. If you are going to park your car there and then go paddling or rowing in the Erie Canal, there is almost no incentive for you to stop in the Village of Brockport for a quick bite to eat before you head home. So the boat ramp in Sans Soucie Park does not contribute to the economy of the Brockport area. It is a place where people stop as they are passing through.
Going east on the Erie Canal, the nearest public boat launch site to Brockport is the boat ramp off Clover Street in Pittsford on the lower side of Lock 32. It has a hard surface ramp, plus parking spots for 10 cars and trailers. It is also operated by the NYS Canal Corporation. The spot where the present canal returns to the route of the old Erie Canal is near Lock 32, and that might attract paddlers and rowers to the site. But that boat ramp is twenty five miles east of Brockport, so it is highly doubtful that anyone is going to launch there and then stop for a bite to eat in Brockport. So it certainly looks like adding a boat ramp and facilities for rowers and paddlers in Brockport is an excellent idea.
The parcel of land owned by the NYS Canal Corporation is on the north side of the Canal, east of the Park Avenue Bridge, at the western end of Lyman Street. The only unresolved issue at present seems to be parking. There may not be enough room at the site to create a parking lot, but the municipal parking lot next to the Welcome Center is about a block and a half away. So the plan might be to have the people who use the new facility park their vehicles and boat trailers by the Visitor Center after they unload their boats at the launch site.
The sport can be either recreational or competitive – where athletes race against each other in boats The sport is called Crew when referring to high school or college teams, but it is usually called rowing when referring to recreational use of boats on the water. The sport itself is a physically and mentally demanding sport, and it involves every muscle in your body, especially the legs, the abs, and the arms.
There are rowing clubs in Rochester, Brighton, Fairport and Pittsford. But currently there are no rowing clubs on the West side of the Rochester metropolitan area. That is likely to change as the Canalway Grant Project in Brockport moves forward.