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Erie Canal Projects Launched by Corridor Commission

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – The first round of federal grants were awarded Wednesday to help reinvent the historic Erie Canal. The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor commission announced more than $200,000 of projects in 13 communities along the waterway.

The money will be used for a variety of projects - from Buffalo to Albany - to help tell the story of the once vital canalway.

The corridor is one of 37 designated as a National Heritage Area. The honor for the Erie Canal corridor comes with an initial one million dollar federal appropriation. The Corridor must be reauthorized after ten years.

Eric Mower is chairman of the corridor commission. He said the commission will support public and private efforts to reclaim the cultural treasure.

That will be done in seemingly small ways.

There will be interpretive exhibits and signs dotting canal sites along the waterway. But communities hope to build tourism around the mini-history lessons.

David Franczyk is president of the Buffalo Common Council. He said he is glad the state is getting more federal help with it's second effort to promote the canal.

Federal policy might have changed. But the commission says federal involvement with the corridor's development will be limited.

Mower said they want to support - not dictate - how communities choose to tell their unique stories. And mower said that includes staying out of the current debate over whether or not Bass Pro is part of Buffalo's canal district.

The Buffalo River Historical Project was one of those chosen from 35 applications considered by the commission. The project was awarded $25,000 to help tell the story of Buffalo's waterfront and grain-milling history.

And, to further promote the entire canalway, in July the commission will welcome the 90 foot canal schooner, Lois MClure, for a grand canal journey of the entire 524 mile waterway.