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Tree Removal Project Along Erie Canal On Hold

ROCHESTER (WXXI) - The New York State Canal Corporation has agreed to wait until February to continue their project that’s removing trees from canal embankments between Medina and Pittsford.

That’s after a protest a few weeks ago and a meeting held earlier this week, where residents and three town supervisors from Brighton, Pittsford and Perinton voiced concerns about the project.

The Canal Corporation says they need to remove the trees to maintain embankment integrity and prevent erosion. They say the roots cause the embankments to weaken.

But those who live along the canal weren’t so quick to let that happen.

Elizabeth Agte organized that rally calling for project to be stopped.

"We're here and we're mad and we're not going to let you do it however you want to do it. There's got to be a compromise, but we're not just going to let you steam roll this through."

Many agree with Agte that where was not enough warning or transparency from the Canal Corporation of the project.

"Up till this point, they just really haven’t talked with us; they just kept repeating the same information over and over again and wouldn’t have a conversation."

Supervisor Bill Smith of Pittsford says many worry about the aesthetics of the towns along the canal, and the environmental impact of their removal.

He also mentioned the State Environmental Quality Review Act or SEQR.

"You have to make a determination that the project falls into one of two SEQR classifications. If it’s a type one action, then there is extensive environmental analysis and there’s a good deal of public input. If it’s a type two action, basically it’s fast tracked with little analysis and you don’t have the same opportunity for public input."

This project was classified as a type two, and many wonder if really it should have been a type one.

After a meeting last week with Smith, Perinton Supervisor Michael Barker, Senator Rich Funke and members of the Power Authority, who oversee the Canal Corporation, they agreed to delay tree removal until February and work on a compromise in order to get the project done.

Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo also made a statement praisine the decision saying : "The Corporation should be credited for heeding the calls of residents who expressed strong concerns that the project could hurt our local towns and villages that rely on the Canal for economic and recreational opportunities. However, I am today reiterating my request that the Corporation should fully extend the postponement period through late 2018."

Two public meetings will be held in January by the corporation, for residents to voice their opinions.