The newest official envoys of the New York State Canal System range in age from eight to 18 and can be seen running errands, greeting boaters, tending the grounds and helping out at the Lock 1 Bridgehouse Museum in Phoenix on the Oswego River Canal.
The Bridgehouse Brats spend their summers learning leadership and teamwork skills while maintaining a pleasant and clean environment at Henley Park and the Bridgehouse Museum on State Street.
Under the direction of founder Cathy Lee, the “brats” have performed community service in the village of Phoenix for 15 years.
New York State Canal Corp. Director Brian U. Stratton recently visited Phoenix and joined with local officials to name the Bridgehouse Brats “Canal Ambassadors” and to commend local residents on the progress of waterfront improvement projects in the village.
The village received a $50,000 grant last year through the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council to replace the pavilion on Lock Island and to build a new restroom and shower facility next to the Bridgehouse Museum.
“With this project, the village of Phoenix continues to revitalize itself and improve the quality of life for its residents and visitors alike,” said Stratton.
“This phase of the strategic plan will reinforce the village’s identity as a canal community and help promote the Oswego Canal and the village of Phoenix as a tourist friendly destination,” he said. “It is this type of commitment to investment and recreational enhancements that will allow the economic impact tourism has along the canal to surpass its current level of $380 million.”
Also on hand were Mayor Anthony Fratto, state Sen. Patty Ritchie, Nancy Weber representing the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council, and several friends and supporters of the Bridgehouse and village of Phoenix.
The new wheelchair accessible pavilion was built to fit the architectural character of Phoenix’s canal waterfront district and will be used by the community for concerts, weddings, reunions and other events.
The unisex restroom and shower facility is expected to be completed by fall 2014.
“The village of Phoenix is a canal community rich in culture and history that offers so many opportunities for outdoor recreation and related activities,” said Ritchie.
“I’d like to congratulate the village of Phoenix on the completion of phase one of their waterfront improvement project,” she added. “This is just the start of revitalizing the waterfront, attracting more visitors to our area and boosting economic development in our region.”
The Bridgehouse Brats were named official tourism ambassadors by the Oswego County Tourism Advisory Council in 2011.
New York State’s Canal System includes the Oswego, Erie, Champlain, and Cayuga-Seneca canals. Spanning 524 miles, the waterways link the Hudson River, Lake Champlain, Lake Ontario, the Finger Lakes, Niagara River and Lake Erie with communities rich in history and culture.
For information on its history and navigating the Oswego River Canal, go to visitoswegocounty.com/the-great-outdoors/canalling or call the Oswego County Tourism Office at 349-8322 and request a copy of “Canalling the Oswego River Canal.” For information on the New York State Canal system, call 1-800-4CANAL4 or visit canals.ny.gov.