The towpath connection program was ranked first because of its benefit to the community, said Hamilton. Parts of the existing paths along the canal are dangerously narrow, but are attractive to cyclists and hikers because of their rural quality. This project will provide a safe and accessible means for outdoorsmen to traverse the canal.
"Plus, it provides access to some of the more historical assets the canal region has to offer," said Hamilton.
Poorman, however, said the towpath project may have had another advantage in the ranking process: its cost.
The way the review process works at the state level, cost is not taken into account, but community impact is. "So, you'd expect larger cost projects to score higher than lower cost ones," Poorman said.
Regardless of why it was recommended, Hamilton said he is just happy the project has been endorsed, and that the towpath will allow Clifton Park to showcase the canal as an attraction for visitors.
"When I moved to Clifton Park in 1968, there were all of these complaints that the town didn't have a main street," he said. "Then, all of a sudden, we realized that the Erie Canal was our main street." ""