Rockefeller Institute Announces Community Engagement Sessions for Reimagine the Canals Initiative

Community Members Will Help State Task Force Identify Ways to Strengthen Economies, Recreation, and Environmental Resilience along the Erie Canal 

The Rockefeller Institute of Government will launch a series of community engagement sessions throughout July for Reimagine the Canals, a state-sponsored initiative to identify new uses for the Erie Canal and reimagine this historic waterway for the 21st century. 

The initiative, launched in May by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, builds on last year's Reimagine the Canals competition, which sought innovative ideas to boost local economies, increase recreation and strengthen environmental resilience along the Erie Canal. 

“These sessions are a great opportunity for the public to help shape the future of the Erie Canal,” said Joanie Mahoney, the Reimagine the Canals Task Force chair. “The public’s input will be crucial in formulating the final recommendations about the Canal that will be sent to Governor Cuomo.” 

First opened in 1825, the Erie Canal spans more than 360 miles; today it is overseen by the New York State Canal Corporation, a division of the New York Power Authority. 

As the Canal nears its third century, Governor Cuomo viewed this as the time to reimagine the future of this essential piece of New York State infrastructure as a resource for agricultural irrigation, ecological restoration, flood mitigation, boating, fishing and tourism. 

The community engagement sessions will integrate the voices of Canal communities into the Reimagine initiative. Community members will learn about Reimagine the Canals and will discuss the Canal’s current uses and its potential future. The insights from these sessions will be presented to the Reimagine the Canals Task Force. 

The Rockefeller Institute will moderate the community engagement sessions and help the Task Force analyze the data collected. The session schedule is as follows: 

  • Schenectady: Thursday, July 11, 6-8 p.m. at the Schenectady County Community College Van Curler Room, 78 Washington Avenue 
  • Lockport: Monday, July 15, 6-8 p.m. at the Challenger Learning Center, 160 Washburn Street 
  • Brockport: Tuesday, July 16, 6-8 p.m. at the SUNY Brockport Cooper Hall, NY Room 
  • Syracuse: Tuesday, July 23, 6-8 p.m. at the SUNY ESF Gateway Center, 1 Forestry Drive 
  • Utica: Tuesday, July 30, 6-8 p.m. at the SUNY Polytechnic Institute Campus Center, 100 Seymour Ave 


The sessions are open to the public. Participants can RSVP here prior to attending. The Reimagine the Canals website offers more information about the initiative, as well as a portal where members of the public can submit feedback if they are unable to attend a community engagement session. The Rockefeller Institute will hold a second series of meetings later in the summer. 

About the Rockefeller Institute of Government 

The Rockefeller Institute of Government is the public policy research arm of the State University of New York. The Institute conducts cutting-edge research and analysis to inform lasting solutions to the problems facing New York State and the nation. Learn more at