A clean canvas; The future of Onondaga Lake's shoreline will be determined by the Syracuse community

Potential enhancements for the Geddes lakeshore, rendered by Honeywell, Oct. 2010

Potential enhancements for the Geddes lakeshore, rendered by Honeywell, Oct. 2010 PHOTO COURTESY HONEYWELL INTERNATIONAL, INC

In 2000, the Onondaga Lake Partnership was formed to “[provide] a framework for government agencies to cooperate as they restore and conserve water quality, natural resources, and recreational uses of the Lake to the benefit of the public. OLP also fosters the participation of special interest groups, businesses, and educational institutions from the community,” according to onlakepartners.org.

“The city of Syracuse is one of the six agencies involved with the Onondaga Lake Partnership,” said Andrew Maxwell, Director of Planning and Sustainability for the city of Syracuse. He joins the EPA, the DEC, the County Executive, the Onondaga County Office of the Environment and the New York State Attorney General’s office.

The group has worked to educate the public about the lake, and coordinate efforts to improve it. The Onondaga Lake Partnership has worked with organizations such as SUNY ESF, the Onondaga Environmental Institute, the Onondaga Nation and many others who have contributed to the education of the community and improvement of the lake. While these entities continue to work together, the County Executive has taken a step forward in developing a formal visioning process for the future of Onondaga Lake.

Last year, Mahoney appropriated $20,000 to support F.O.C.U.S. Greater Syracuse to lead community-wide visioning around Onondaga Lake.

“The proposal that I made to the legislature in my budget was that FOCUS is an organization that already exists that already engages the community in the topics that they are working on,” Mahoney said. “They have agreed to take the topic of the vision for the future of Onondaga Lake on for us.”

The visioning process would be two-fold, Mahoney said.

“There’s two parts to it,” she said. “A lot of documents have been created in the past talking about the lake - I’d like someone to bring those together, and I’d like to have somebody do outreach right now to talk about what the community wants, and then put the ideas that people have into an organized ... list of projects that we can do, or a planning document for what we want to see, and also what we don’t want to see on the lake.”

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