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Canal to cut hours, reinstate tolls

Visiting boaters are very important to the local economy," said Palmyra Mayor Vicky Daley. "The powers that be do not seem to be aware of the importance of tourism and the role of the canals in revitalization. It is a question of seeing the big picture and realizing that the small communities between the large cities exist and need consideration. I wonder, too, about the effort I thought was being made to use the canal for commercial shipping. I see no good coming from this for anyone.

Although some tour boat operators said they can work around it, Peter Wiles, president of Mid-Lakes Navigation Co. and chair of Canal New York, a business advocacy group, said it would negatively impact his business.

This apparent cost-cutting measure will have a significant negative impact on the activities of boaters as it relates to simple passage through the system, their attendance at festivals and other events, and visits to canalside communities for an evening out, he said.

In his case, a dinner cruise on the Seneca River would now preclude passing through Lock 24 in Baldwinsville, which patrons always enjoy.

Wiles has urged the Canal New York membership to identify how this will affect your business, community or organization. It will be important to present a strong case in opposition to this drastic reduction in service. You can expect to hear more on the subject in the near future. Take the initiative and immediately contact your state legislative representatives to discuss this issue.

He said he sees this as an attempt by the Thruway Authority at blowing smoke to rid itself of the canal.

The vision of the historic Erie Canal as a vital economic component of the upstate economy has dimmed again," said Bill Condo of Rochester, an economic and public affairs consultant. Condo noted that for 15 years, New York State and canal communities have attempted to leverage the waterway and landside attractions to their full potential. To date, achieving this potential has been painfully slow to non- existent. My experience with the now seemingly discarded and forgotten $600,000 taxpayer funded Western Erie Canal Heritage Corridor Management Plan, illustrates how scarce dollars are wasted on canal initiatives," he said. Until New York State and canal groups recognize that the revitalization of canal communities as dynamic, attractive destinations for residents and visitors alike is achieved, we will continue to flail about attempting to create a less than appealing, seven-month tourist attraction overly dependent on waterway traffic and an annual state subsidy. The new announced hours will negatively impact businesses and tour boats that offer dinner and evening cruises. Perhaps the Canal Corporation is hoping there will be a public outcry to return to later operating hours- this is a standard government tactic. But again, this misses the mark of how best to achieve maximum economic potential of the canal corridor.

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