The Story Behind the Petten Street Access Dock

This article is part of Genesee RiverWatch’s 2020 Year-End Appeal series – telling the stories behind our significant accomplishments.

The new canoe/kayak access dock on the Genesee River at Petten Street in Rochester, NY was formally opened on September 12th.  However, this was only the culmination of work that extended back to 2014.  In that year, the City of Rochester completed its “Harbor Management Plan”.  Among many other items, the Plan envisioned a car-top boating facility at Petten Street.  Separately, Genesee RiverWatch took a kayak trip from the power boat  launch in the harbor to Lower Falls.  It became clear during that trip that power-boaters and paddlers have very different interests and that the lake swells and boat wakes in the ramp area make this part of the harbor hazardous to paddlers.  Clearly, an improved access facility upriver at Petten Street would improve safety and make paddling the lower river – our “wilderness in the city” – attractive to many more people.

These separate ideas came together when the Genesee Brewery generously contributed funds from their support program that shares Tasting Bar revenues with local non-profit organizations.  With core funding in place and strong support from Rochester Department of Environmental Services Commissioner Norman Jones, real planning for dock location and design began in the summer of 2018.

As with all significant Genesee RiverWatch projects, the path from good ideas to concrete results is strewn with obstacles that must be resolved.  In this case they included a neighboring Brownfield site, permissions from the NYSDEC and the Army Corp of Engineers, handicapped access design requirements and, ultimately, additional funding needs.  At this point Rochester Gas & Electric, the Popli Design Group and other Genesee RiverWatch supporters joined the City to fill the funding gap.

Today, thanks to persistence, the help of generous donors, and hard work by the City’s engineers, recreational boaters can paddle upriver to Turning Point Park, Seth Green Island and Lower Falls; exploring our wilderness in the city – an area that can only be fully appreciated from a boat. When we are past the current COVID emergency, the Waterways Center/Genesee RiverWatch program of guided paddles on the lower river will have a proper facility for their Seth Green-to-harbor trips.  In addition, K-12 and college students in aquatic education programs and potential canoe/kayak races will have a safe and dedicated dock available for their activities.

Help us continue this work in 2021.  Please consider donating $100, $250 – or an amount of your choosing – to Genesee RiverWatch as a part of your year-end giving plan.

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