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The murky green waters of Ellicott Creek should be looking clearer next year.

The County Legislature has approved $50,000 to clean up the waters of Ellicott Creek in the Town of Tonawanda next year. The Erie County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Department of Environmental Conservation will clear out fallen trees, litter and other debris clogging the waterway.

With the collection of silt and debris littering the bottom of the former canal bed, the water there is only about 2 feet deep.

That creates two problems. Since the water is so shallow, boats can't pass through. If the waterway is made deeper, more recreational opportunities would open up.

The shallow waters create another problem: algae. In the summer, with the sunlight reaching down and penetrating to the bottom of the water, algae thrive. By the end of the summer, the water around Ellicott Creek Park looks slimy and green, and the smell is offensive.

For the past two years, County Legislator Lynn M. Marinelli, D-Town of Tonawanda, has allocated contingency funds from her district for the annual seaweed harvesting. For 1999, the Legislature has approved $8,000 from the regular budget to cover the cost of harvesting.

"Ellicott Creek and Ellicott Creek Park are valuable community resources, and I will make every effort to keep the park and waterway a beautiful place to play, picnic and boat," Ms. Marinelli said.

She has been a vocal advocate of making the Erie Canal part of the National Park System. A decision is expected in 1999 on whether to incorporate the 524 miles of canal into the national system.

Other improvements to Ellicott Creek Park next year will include the addition of $27,904 worth of new swings and slides. At a cost of $333,000 in county funds, a bike path will be constructed through the county-owned park, connecting existing bike paths in the City of Tonawanda and the Town of Amherst.

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