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Main Street gardens will help protect lake

Canandaigua, N.Y. -- The gardens being planted as part of Canandaigua's $1.6 million dollar Main Street face-lift will not only beautify the downtown corridor, they will also help protect the quality of the water at the nearby lake.

"We wanted to take a holistic approach and have this project stand apart," said Assistant City Manager Bryan White.

Tourists spend $100 million dollars a year in the Canandaigua area, much of it tied to experiences at the lake. "The value of Canandaigua Lake to our community - it's everything. It's why people come here," said White.

White also sees Main Street as a vital link to that relationship. Most every visitor will travel through the business district to reach the Lakeshore. They will also leave behind something unintended.

"There's oil, there's grime, there's dirt and sand. Things that come off a car naturally on a day to day basis," says White.

Those solids are carried away with the rain into the sewer and eventually into the lake.

That is where the "Streetscape" project seeks to intervene.

The sound of the construction to replace sidewalks and infrastructure nearly drowns out the sizzle on the grill at Ken's Hots where profits are down 50 percent. "I think they're not stopping," said Ken Gulvin. "It's inconvenient for them because there's no place to park."

By next summer Ken's Hots will be shaded by one of 35 new trees and alongside one of 15 rain gardens.

Those gardens will be planted in huge concrete tubs now being sunk below ground on both sides of the street. The tubs will be filled with plants, equipment, and specially engineered soil designed to filter rain water runoff before it hits the lake.

"The trees and the roots that we're planting in there will filter the water prior to it going into the sewers," explained White.

The water at the fountains along Main Street has long been filtered. Now the same will be true for the water that winds up in Canandaigua Lake.

"I'm hoping in the long run it will be worth the money that taxpayers are paying," said Gulvin who said he is a bit skeptical. However he has always been pleased with the attention that is paid to keeping the business district clean and beautiful.

"They've always done a very good job," he said.

Jane Flasch, 13WHAM-TV
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