Celebration in Village of Fairport Unveils Newly Completed Infrastructure Improvements

Amenities Along the Erie Canal Include Liftbridge Lane West and Pedestrian Promenade

200th Anniversary of Canal Opening in Fairport also Commemorated

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the opening of the 2022 navigation season along the 524-mile New York State Canal system, kicking off the 198th consecutive opening of the waterway and celebrating the ongoing bicentennial of the Erie Canal’s construction and completion, which spanned from 1817 to 1825. As part of the kickoff of the new boating season, the New York Power Authority, New York State Canal Corporation, and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, joined officials in the Village of Fairport, Monroe County to unveil the completion of recent infrastructure improvement projects along the Erie Canal.  

“The Erie Canal is an integral part of New York’s history and, as a longtime boater myself, it is a favorite summertime destination of mine, one that I invite all New Yorkers to experience and enjoy,” Governor Hochul said. “The Canal system is a hub of recreation and tourism in local communities along the canalway and we look forward to another successful summer of economic growth and adventures.”

The $1.3 million in improvements along the northwest bank of the Erie Canal in Fairport include all new docks and dock utilities, lighting, a new non-motorized small craft boat launch, and ADA accessible features throughout, including an accessible kayak launch. In addition, the village opened Liftbridge Lane West, a pedestrian promenade and gathering space for residents and visitors that features conversational seating arrangements, state of the art sound system, decorative lighting and signage, plus a designated bike lane for the Empire State Trail.

The village received $300,000 in funding from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to complete the work along the northwest bank. These new amenities complement a project completed in September 2020 along the south bank. The earlier $850,000 project received $150,000 in funding support from the New York State Canal Corporation to install an observation deck at Kennelley Park, as well as a new non-motorized boat deck, sidewalks, road base, lighting, landscaping, and historical interpretive signage.

New York Power Authority Interim President and CEO Justin E. Driscoll said, “For nearly two centuries, the Erie Canal has connected people and commerce across our state, and as the stewards of this iconic waterway, the New York Power Authority and Canal Corporation are committed to ensuring the canals remain safe and operable for generations to come. In addition, through our Reimagine the Canals initiative, NYPA is supporting projects like the recent illumination of the Fairport Lift Bridge that highlight the history and engineering of the Canal system while attracting residents and tourists to the many canalside communities.”

New York State Canal Corporation Director Brian U. Stratton said, “The opening of navigation season on New York’s Canals is a sure sign that summer is upon us, and we look forward to welcoming everyone that plans to recreate on our network of waterways and trails this year. The new infrastructure and amenities unveiled today in Fairport create a truly revitalized waterfront destination for visitors and reinforces the Canal system’s connection to so many communities.”

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “The New York State Canal system is one of our nation’s unparalleled recreational resources, and the opening of the canal means the peak season for outdoor recreation is here. The improvements being celebrated today will enhance the experience of both residents and visitors who come from all over to explore this scenic and historic destination.  State Parks is grateful to NYPA, the Canal Corporation and the Village of Fairport for their work on this project.”

In addition to celebrating the new canalside amenities this year, Fairport is also commemorating its bicentennial as a community on the Erie Canal. According to an article published in the Cherry Valley Gazette on April 23, 1822, the Erie Canal opened to navigation on April 11th of that year in eastern Monroe County through what is now Fairport to the current Bushnell’s Basin. Additional sections of the Erie Canal west of Bushnell’s Basin to the City of Rochester opened in July and October of 1822, with the original aqueduct over the Genesee River opening in October 1823. As published on the village’s website, the Erie Canal became an important transportation route and Fairport, with a hotel and a post office, became a popular stop for travelers. In fact, Fairport got its name from canal travelers who labeled the stop as a “pretty fair port.” 

Village of Fairport Mayor Julie Domaratz said, “We are thrilled to celebrate the history of our Village located on the Erie Canal, opening day of canal season, and the completion of these projects that enhance the experience of visiting and living in Fairport. This day will celebrate both our history and our progress.”  

Senator Samra Brouk said, “As a Pittsford native whose first job was on the Erie Canal, I am no stranger to the Canal’s regional significance, contributing not only scenic beauty but an economic engine that has served our community for generations. On this bicentennial, let us recommit to protecting and preserving our beloved Canal so it may continue to serve our community for centuries to come. And as Senator, I will continue working to ensure local families have a strong voice in steering our Canal’s future.” 

Assemblymember Jennifer Lunsford said, “Our corner of the Erie Canal has had a profound effect on the development of our great Empire State and nation, and I am thrilled to commemorate the kick-off of this year’s navigation season on May 20th. This year also marks the Bicentennial Anniversary of the Opening of the Erie Canal in the Village of Fairport. Completed in 1825, the Erie Canal was the second-longest canal in the world, boosting the development and economy of many major cities throughout New York. With the advent of the automobile, the Village of Fairport, which was officially incorporated in 1867, began to expand away from the water, resulting in a reimagination of the Erie Canal as a source of recreation.  Canoes, kayaks and tour boats can often be found on the beloved waterway, among a few remaining shipping barges. Residents and visitors enjoy walking or running along the towpath which follows the Erie Canal for 340 miles, and of course, we celebrate everything the canal offers our community during Fairport’s Canal Days. The Erie Canal is a jewel of our community!”

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said, “We’re marking Monroe County’s bicentennial with the theme of ‘celebrate more,’ and I can’t think of a better place for families and visitors to take part in this celebration than along the Erie Canal in Fairport. With brand new amenities to enjoy alongside the canal, there’s plenty of ways to get outside, be a part of nature and celebrate more.”

Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Executive Director Bob Radliff said, “This season of renewal reminds us how fortunate we are to have a working Canal system that is both a New York State and a national treasure. We join in the celebration reopening upstate New York’s legendary inland waterways for all to use and enjoy.”

The Canal system operates daily today through Wednesday, October 12, 2022, from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm with some locks and lift bridges operating until 10:00 pm throughout the summer. To view the full schedule and learn more about the Erie, Champlain, Oswego, and Cayuga-Seneca Canals, please visit the Canal Corporation’s website.  

The Canal Corporation and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently announced a comprehensive effort, including a new rapid response plan being developed, to combat the potential spread of the round goby, an aquatic invasive species, to the Lake Champlain Basin following the discovery of the fish in the Hudson River near Troy in July 2021. Aquatic invasive species can out-compete native fish species, disrupting ecosystems and damaging local economies dependent on recreation.  

To prevent the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS), boaters and anglers are advised to always clean, drain and dry boat/fishing equipment and practice proper use and disposal of unwanted baitfish. Report any invasive species to iMapInvasives at www.imapinvasives.org. DEC and the Canal Corporation recently announced a comprehensive effort to protect New York’s waters, particularly Lake Champlain, from round goby and other AIS. For more information, go to: https://www.dec.ny.gov/press/125018.html  

In addition, all interested Canal users and stakeholders are encouraged to register to receive updates through the “Notice to Mariners” notification program.