View from the lake puts park in perspective

— A cloudless sky and a cooling breeze made for a perfect day for a boat ride on Tuesday, July 24, as the Emita II set sail on Onondaga Lake.

Departing the dock from Dutchman’s Landing on Seneca River, Capt. Dan Wiles guided the double-decked tour boat past Kline Island and into the center of Onondaga Lake.

Hosted by the Greater Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, the casual cruise drew 48 passengers as four crew members took drink orders and answered questions about Mid-Lakes Navigation, Co. Ltd., which owns the Emita II, 65 feet long and 22 feet wide.

Six knots = seven mph

Powered by a Detroit Diesel 8V71 engine, the refitted Casco Bay ferry chugged along at six knots (approximately seven miles per hour) as the passengers viewed Onondaga Lake Park from a fresh perspective. The park is just more than three miles long, but when seen from 200 yards offshore it looks huge.

Some 85 percent of the shoreline of Onondaga Lake is public property, Wiles pointed out as he related a few facts, figures and bits of history over the boat’s sound system. The park itself was constructed during the Great Depression by the federal Works Project Administration.

Long polluted by the errant dumping of human sewage and cancer-causing chemicals, the lake is slowly undergoing a renaissance. In fact, a 24-hour-a-day dredging operation helmed by Honeywell International, Inc. was set to begin on July 30.

“I predict people will be swimming at the north end of the lake within the next five years,” Wiles told his passengers. He’s a little less confident in plans to extend a bicycle trail to loop the entire lake. “But eventually they’ll figure it out,” he said.

Roberts seeks re-election

Among the passengers on the Emita II’s upper deck last week were Liverpool Chamber President Dennis Hebert and state Assemblyman Sam Roberts. Hebert, who’s also a village trustee, is a Republican while Roberts is a Democrat. There was, however, no on-board politicking.

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