JAMESTOWN – After months of hard work, the team responsible for the Chadakoin River revitalization was able to provide an update on the progress being made to the corridor.
Completing phase one of the first year, workers have removed over 100 dead standing trees from the river bank, and an uncountable amount of debris that was blocking water flow.
Twan Leenders, Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy’s ecological restoration manager, says the project will take place in multiple phases.
“The project area spans from, we call it the ‘lower Chadakoin River,’ which is from the water dam all the way down to Tiffany Avenue, which is the Falconer town line. It’s three-and-a-half miles of river, believe it or not, which is seven miles of bank within the river,” says Leenders.
The goal of the project is to design and construct enhancements along the Chadakoin River to improve and increase public access to the waterfront and spur economic activity in Jamestown.
“We started with the first one which is really more of a damage control phase. Trying to undo forty, fifty, sixty years of just debris accumulating in the river and getting the river back into control so that we have a stable system to begin with,” explains Leenders.
The revitalization is expected to take multiple years to complete, given the span of the project. Since March, after working out terms with the DEC to safely lower the water level, the team has been clearing dead trees and other debris from the river and the publicly owned shores and banks.
With phase one mostly complete, the team will now move onto the next step which includes the removal of invasive vegetation. Specifically, the Tree of heaven.
“In the meantime, we’ve been trying to start getting some community groups involved. We’re having some great interest from the Jamestown High School AP Biology class. In the last few weeks I’ve had twenty to twenty-five students out starting to at least manually remove some of these invasives, just to get ahead of it,” says Leenders.
Phase three would re-vegetize the exposed banks to fill in what was removed in the prior phase.
“Re-vegetation of the exposed banks to stabilize the bank to get these root masses growing and growing things together again using native species this time around is critically important,” explains Leenders.
Once the first three phases are complete, it will be time for the city to plan what they would like to see on the waterfront.
Proposed enhancements include signature gardens, murals, amphitheater style tiered seating, placemaking items, a kayak launch, dock, and even a welcome center for visitors. To improve navigation and safety, obstacles will be removed and safety buoys and navigation aids will be installed.
Before further work can begin, City Counsel must approve the budget for the upcoming phases. Funding after year one would potentially come from further grants from the state.