Community pulling together, has vision for future

CANASERAGA — It was once a place filled with promise, and sought out by society as a boom town in days gone by.


Burns Councilwoman, Dianne Freiner, said that she has been working on getting grants to revitalize historic Canaseraga. There is one in particular the town has been working on called the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has started this program to help small communities once again become a vibrant place to live, work, and play.


Sometime in the near future, a historic marker indicating the Canaseraga Historic Four Corners will be put in place on Main Street.


“We have a William G. Pomeroy historic marker coming to Canaseraga soon,” Freiner said. “It will be a brown and white sign to mark the location of the Canaseraga Historic Four Corners. We had this put on the State and National Historic Registers in 2002.”


The sign will go between 67 Main Street and the old Glenmore Hotel. That marks the last brick building that is part of the historic district. They hope to have the sign in place by the end of January.


In September 2017, Alfred State College students put together a project study on revitalizing the small community. Allegany County has been very helpful in this plan as well.


Freiner said the town of Burns and Canaseraga is undergoing rebranding as proposed in the plan.


The mission statement is "Gateway to Allegany County and Outdoor Adventure." The Town of Burns boundary is about two miles from Swain Ski Resort and also State Route 70 is the main route from the southeast, where Letchworth visitors drive to get to the Portageville entrance to Letchworth.


Canaseraga has experienced a dramatic increase in traffic since Letchworth has been named the No. 1 state park in the US.


Freiner said that this study will help Canaseraga secure grants for Main Street, and work with the owners to save the historic buildings in the community.


“We are in the beginning stages of the project. We need to get a preliminary engineers report on the project. This will help us know the costs of the project, and some specific processes of the building and street projects.”


The grants will help with Gateway signs to be placed as visitors come into Canaseraga.


The Kingston Hotel is a top priority since it has been damaged on the side of the building, suffering a partial collapse. The owner of the property is working with the town to see when grants will be available. The state has opened Main Street, but North Church Street is still on lockdown since that is where the damage is located.


Freiner said she hopes the damage is fixed soon to keep local children from going in and getting hurt.


“Some people in the community think we would be better off if we tore down all of our historic buildings, and just made one big parking lot,” she said. “This is ridiculous since we need to attract business to the area, but they see these historic buildings as an eye sore.”


Freiner said that there are photos of what these buildings could look like again in the project phases, and it is a beautiful sight.


“This project is going to take a lot of time, patience, and money,” she said. “There are still a lot of people who care about Burns and Canaseraga. They remember when the village and town was a vibrant place. Back in 2002 we had a coffee and music shop. It was filled with people every weekend. We hope to bring that back to the community.”


One of the other things the project entails is the streetscapes that will enhance the beauty of the area. They want trees and LED lights put in place on Main Street. Since there are a lot of people who speed down Main Street, there needs to be something put in place to slow traffic. The engineer report will show if a traffic circle would be better than a median.


“The main idea for this project is to get people to stop and shop in our community again,” Freiner said. “This kind of project is going to take years to complete. We need to work on submitting applications to grants by July. If we don’t get them we will try again in 2020. We will find a way to turn our community around. We have seen other small towns do it, and we know that we can do it too.”


Sen. Catharine Young has been working with the town officials to make the community vibrant again as well.


“Sen. Young has been very helpful with this project, and we will be asking for funding in April,” Freiner said. “We also want to do landscaping around our historic jail. The jail gets a lot of visitors, and is one of the most popular stops.”


Friener added that the town and village officials have been working together to make all of this happen for the community.