The town of Brutus is close to losing a $418,000 state grant after another project partner, the town of Mentz, completely withdrew from an intermunicipal effort to rewater the Erie Canal.
The planning grant for a Erie Canal Rewatering and Trail Connections Project was originally awarded to the village of Port Byron by the state Regional Economic Development Council. The grant would help plan, design and create a shovel-ready project for rewatering an old section of the canal from Port Byron to Brutus.
Also involving Mentz and Brutus, the three municipalities working together was the foundation for the grant that made it really competitive in the eyes of the state, said grant writer Sharon Lilla.
But in May, the village of Port Byron Board of Trustees pulled out of the project and voted not to participate, Brutus Supervisor Jim Hotaling said. The village had concerns about its significant flooding issues, he added, saying officials there could not come to understand that part of the grant was specifically dedicated to addressing the issues through flood mitigation.
In addition to flooding issues, Port Byron Mayor Ron Wilson previously told The Citizen money and time were other factors for opting out. The project would — over a three-year period — involve a total contribution of about $47,000 from each municipality.
In a Feb. 11 meeting, the Brutus Town Board voted to accept lead applicant responsibility for the canal project. Meeting minutes indicate Brutus assumed lead agency because the "project provides great economic opportunity, long term community benefits and potential quality of life improvements to residents of the communities of Brutus, Mentz and Port Byron."