|Home | En Español | Contact Us | A to Z|
HUD Archives: News Releases
CUOMO AND BABBITT ANNOUNCE NEW STEPS TO AID COMMUNITIES ALONG NEW YORK'S ERIE CANAL CORRIDOR
ALBANY, NY -- In a news conference with Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt today released preliminary findings of a two-year study that establishes the Erie Canal as an area of national significance -- opening the way for Congress with input from local communities to consider designating the canal a National Heritage Corridor to boost tourism.
In addition, Congressmen Maurice Hinchey, John LaFalce and Jack Quinn said they and other members of New York's Congressional delegation will introduce legislation to designate the canal a National Heritage Corridor.
Cuomo and Babbitt also signed a memorandum of understanding that commits HUD and Interior to work together to support local communities receiving funding under HUD's Canal Corridor Initiative. The action came a day after Cuomo announced $131 million in Department of Housing and Urban Development assistance to 57 communities along the canal corridor. Cuomo today released a complete list detailing which communities will get the money and projects they will undertake.
"The announcements we've made this week in New York will give powerful momentum to the campaign to transform this great canal system from an abandoned commercial waterway into a premier tourist attraction," Cuomo said. "We want to make sure that best days of the Erie Canal are not in its past, but in its future."
"The history of the Erie Canal is emblematic of the courage and imagination of the American people," Babbitt said. "What Secretary Cuomo and I are attempting to accomplish with this event today is to honor the spirit of the canal by breaking on the narrow, bureaucratic way of doing things to create a new vision. By establishing this innovative partnership, we hope to preserve this historical treasure for future generations of Americans while further enhancing the economic development of the region."
"I welcome Secretary Babbitt's findings" that the canal is an area of national significance, Hinchey said. "The National Park Service study can help pave the way for designation as a National Heritage Corridor. The study confirms what we in New York have always known: the Erie Canal's influence is national in scope, and of unique importance to American history. The establishment of a National Heritage Corridor could assist the promotion of the Erie Canal as a national and international tourism attraction."
"I strongly support the recreational development of the Erie Canal," Quinn said. "I look forward to joining the New York delegation in support of a National Heritage Corridor for the Erie Canal. This initiative will assure proper development of this national recreation asset."
The preliminary findings of the National Park Service study announced by Babbitt find that the impact of the Erie Canal on American history is equalled only by transportation works such as the first transcontinental railroad. The study notes the impact of the canal on the rise of population centers, on the flow of national and international commerce, and the canal's role in the movement of ideas, as well as people and goods.
The study, which relied on the input of 11 prominent historians and was requested by Congress in 1995, will be submitted to local stakeholders and Congress this fall and used by them in considering the Erie Canal for designation as a National Heritage Corridor.
In a letter on the Canal Corridor Initiative, President Clinton said it will "preserve the rich heritage and revitalize the economic potential of New York's Canal Corridor." The President said he was "confident that ... the Canal Corridor Initiative will be an outstanding success."
The HUD assistance under the initiative will go to over 200 projects along the 524-mile canal system and is expected to create about 5,000 jobs.
The aid will act as a catalyst that is expected to spark additional investment of about $102 million by the private sector and $57.3 million in other public funds.
"We expect the Canal Corridor Initiative will pump about $290 million into communities along the canal, and transform the canal system into a mighty engine for economic growth and job creation in New York," Cuomo said. "We will make this initiative succeed as a comprehensive, end-to-end revitalization project that will benefit all New York."
"We will create a new Canal Corridor revitalized with new marinas, parks, trails, restaurants, retail stores, businesses, restored historic sites, and other recreational and commercial facilities," Cuomo said.
The Erie Canal, completed in 1825, originally was a major link between the Northeast and the Midwest. However, railroads, modern highways and the St. Lawrence Seaway took over the canal's role as a commercial waterway.
Under the Canal Corridor Initiative, HUD will provide $74.2 million in low-interest loan guarantees and $56.8 million in grants to communities along the entire Erie Canal Corridor and connecting waterways. Elected officials, business, labor and community representatives joined Cuomo at the announcements to show their support for the initiative.
Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan said: "The contributions of New York's canals once brought prosperity to the towns along their banks. In 1987, we secured the first federal funds for restoration of the Erie Canal. Today's awards will continue this noble enterprise by giving cities and towns along our canals important seed money to support their own redevelopment efforts."
Senator Alfonse D'Amato said: "The Canal Corridor Initiative will combine public and private funding to create jobs and attract visitors to the Canal region. The communities along the Canal will be able to utilize these funds to expand and highlight their unique attractions and recreation facilities."
The Canal Corridor Initiative is designed to put federal resources to work as part of a long-term and coordinated commitment to upstate New York. The initiative is community-run and locally driven. It will generate a regional synergy around tourism, promote job creation and employment, foster public-private partnerships, and require no new government bureaucracy.
The HUD assistance will help finance creation or expansion of the following: waterfront parks and trails in 21 communities; cultural and historic attractions in 16 communities; housing and commercial revitalization projects in 13 communities; docks, marinas and boating facilities in 24 communities; restaurants and lodging facilities in 15 communities; and streetscape and infrastructure projects in 41 communities. In addition, business assistance programs in 25 communities will be funded. Some communities will use a portion of their grants to lower their borrowing costs by subsidizing interest rates on their loans.
HUD's Canal Corridor Initiative complements the New York State Canal Revitalization Program, both in its details and overall goals. it is based on a careful review of existing state and local plans for the region, including the landmark New York State Recreationway Plan, completed in 1995. As a result, it provides a template for close cooperation between federal, state and local governments in revitalizing the Canal Corridor.
Here are examples of programs announced by Cuomo today that will be funded by the HUD Canal Corridors initiative: