A change in New York State Law inspired by a former local Boy Scout only needs Governor Cuomo’s signature to become law according to Assemblyman Bob Oaks, the legislation’s chief sponsor in the New York State Assembly.
The bill would allow the state canal corporation to waive the work permit fee for projects on canal lands if they add value at no cost to New York State.
The bill passed the Assembly unanimously and then was sent to the Senate where, under the sponsorship of Senator Mike Nozzolio, it passed without opposition.
The matter first came to Assemblyman Oaks’ attention in 2007 when Matt Sweet of Palmyra Boy Scout Troop No. 96 contacted him after being required to pay a $25 work permit fee for an Eagle Scout project. Matt’s project was to build and install three new benches and 10 bluebird houses along the Erie Canal Trail in the Town of Macedon. He worked with his troop to complete the project. Ultimately, the town board reimbursed him for the permit, but Matt thought the law should be changed for similar future projects.
Although the legislation was not enacted in time to assist Matt directly, as a result of his action, the new law will provide relief for future individuals and groups, Assemblyman Oaks said.
“I am convinced that groups such as the Boy Scouts who are involved in beneficial projects and other volunteer groups who assist with Canal clean up should receive a waiver of the work permit fees,” the Assemblyman said. “I think the fee waiver will encourage more clean-ups and other projects to beautify the canal. I appreciate Matt for bringing this issue to my attention.”
The bill, which amends the Public Authorities law, waives any canal corporation work permit fee if, in its discretion, the project would add value without creating any cost to the canal corporation or the state. Assemblyman Oaks said this also could have the potential to attract larger projects that could make the canal even more attractive for boaters, tourists and others who use and appreciate the waterway.
The assemblyman said, “I am proud to be a sponsor of the legislation because it will not only help improve one of our local assets but it will positively impact other canal improvements across the state.”
Assemblyman Oaks serves on the Executive Board of the regional Seneca Waterways Council of the Boy Scouts. “I am pleased that this change in law was inspired by a former Boy Scout who was working on his Eagle service project. Future Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and other service organizations now will have the opportunity to develop enhancement projects along the canal without incurring unnecessary costs for permitting fees,” concluded Assemblyman Oaks.