The future of Onondaga Lake

— Onondaga Lake is one of the most valuable assets in our community. Millions of taxpayer dollars have been dedicated to the clean-up and renewal of this lake. As the county gets closer to improving the lake’s quality, questions of the lake’s usage and mission have become important components to its recovery. FOCUS Greater Syracuse, Inc. was commissioned by the county to sort through 54 previous studies. FOCUS then conducted interviews and surveyed stake-holders on their aspirations for the lake. Taking into consideration the 54 previous studies, combined with the new information from the current stake-holders, they compiled an all-encompassing report that clearly defines a mission for Onondaga Lake moving forward. This report is not meant to be a final plan, but a guideline for determining the future of the lake.

As a member of the Environmental Protection Committee, I was briefed by FOCUS at our most recent meeting on their findings. It is no surprise to me that a vast majority of the stakeholders and residents in Onondaga County desire to see the lake remain in the public domain. The results of the surveys and interviews were overwhelmingly in favor of the lake maintaining its recreational appeal with biking and walking trails. There is also a desire to encourage tourism through educational and cultural signage. Maintaining the lake’s natural environment was also prominent through-out the report. The lake clean-up efforts are encouraged by the environmental influences that surround the lake and live within the lake. The return of the American Bald Eagle, as well as the vast number of fish species, and vegetation has been one of the most inspiring results of the current clean-up efforts.

Onondaga County has invested millions of dollars toward the restoration of Onondaga Lake. Preserving the lake’s integrity should be of the utmost importance to this community. I truly feel that Onondaga Lake is the people’s lake. As the legislative representative to the communities that surround the lake, it will continue to be my priority to remain on this path of restoration and preservation.

Judy Tassone represents the fourth district, which includes the town of Salina and the village of Liverpool and portions of the town of Geddes. Judy welcomes constituent feedback; she can be reached by email at jtasson3@verizon.net or at home, 457-5458.

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