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Constitutional Convention




Begun and Held at the Capitol in the City of Albany
on Tuesday the Sixth Day of April

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The Committee on Canals begs leave to submit the annexed Proposed Amendment to Section 8 of Article VII of the Constitution and recommend its passage, with this statement of the reasons for the proposal to amend.

The approaching completion of the Barge canal improvement has made it necessary to amend Section 8 of Article VII by defining the canals to which the prohibition against sale, lease and other disposal in the present Constitution applies. The retention of the language now in the Constitution might possibly lead to a misconstruction, it at least would leave the intent. open to misinterpretation. In addition to this, questions have arisen heretofore in-the courts, as to what properties used in connection with the canals were to.be considered parts of them so as to be within the prohibition against sale, etc., The Committee has therefore added to the language of the Constitution clauses which are intended to include within the prohibition canal terminals of the Erie, the Oswego, the Champlain and the Cayuga and Seneca canal, as the same will be improved and become part of the Barge canal system, at the same time preserving the application of the prohibition to the Black River canal. Language has been used which saves as a portion of the Barge canal system those parts of the existing canals which have been preserved as a part of that system by existing statutes, which are either amendments to the laws under which the Barge canals are being constructed or separate statutes. The parts so preserved are, in some instances, needed auxiliaries as terminals or to connect with the Barge canals, manufacturing localities which would otherwise be cut off from direct connection with the improved canals. These are not many and do not impose upon the State the maintenance of any considerable portion of the old canals.

In addition to the parts preserved by existing statutes the Committee, after careful consideration, has concluded that the existing inland Erie canal from Tonawanda creek to connection with the Black Rock harbor, and canal slips 1 and 2 in the city of Buffalo should be made a part of the Barge canal system, even though not enlarged to Barge canal capacity at present. Slips 1 and 2 in the city of Buffalo are needed for terminal purposes and should not be abandoned; and the inland Erie canal from Tonawanda creek to Black Rock harbor, your Committee is decidedly of the opinion, should be saved as a part of that system in order to enable westbound boats with partial cargoes or without cargoes to reach Buffalo from Tonawanda creek without proceeding up Niagara river against the heavy current.

Under existing statutes the present Erie canal is preserved from Rome to Mohawk, passing through the city of Utica. This was done because the Barge canal passes so far to the north of the manufacturing districts in that city that the expense to manufacturers of shipping by the Barge canal would be greatly increased if connection by the existing Erie canal, both east and west, were not retained. However, the saving of this part of the Erie canal in the city of Utica prevents the improvement of the grade of the city streets at and in the vicinity of bridges crossing the canal. To relieve the municipal conditions and at the same time to save for the manufacturing industries connec tion with the Barge canal through the existing Erie canal, your Committee has deemed it wise to insert language in the Proposed Amendment which will permit the present Erie canal between Schuyler and Third streets in Utica

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