A proposed law that would benefit the community of Cazenovia has passed a second hurdle to fruition with its unanimous approval by the state senate last week.
The bill to designate Cazenovia Lake and Chittenango Creek as “inland waterways” for the purposes of waterfront revitalization would allow Cazenovia and other surrounding municipalities to apply for state and federal funding to protect the lake and creek as well as boost infrastructure, fishing and local recreational activities in areas along the lake.
The bill was approved by the senate on June 4; it passed the Assembly on April 25.
“Passage of this bill before the end of the legislative session was a priority for me, and I’m pleased by the strong support it received in the Senate,” said State Sen. David Valesky, senate sponsor of the bill. “Designating Cazenovia Lake and Chittenango Creek as inland waterways will open up opportunities for the village to apply for waterfront revitalization grant funding, and development of recreational features along both waterways will help boost tourism in the area.”
“Protecting local jewels like Cazenovia Lake and Chittenango Creek is essential to maintaining the quality of life that brings many to the village of Cazenovia,” said Assemblyman Bill Magee, sponsor of the Assembly bill. “Recognizing these inland waterways in statute will help ensure these resources are protected for generations to come, as well as give surrounding municipalities access to state funding that will allow increased public use and enjoyment.”
Valesky’s office said there is no indication or schedule as to when the bill may be presented to Governor Andrew Cuomo for his signature.
Cazenovia Lake is 3.9 miles long in a valley created by the receding of the glaciers after the last glacial period. The village of Cazenovia is located on the southeastern tip of the lake. Lakeland Park in Cazenovia is a popular destination for local residents and visitors alike. Its historic waterfront offers a swimming beach and boat-launch during the summer months. The lake faces many emerging threats, including an invasion of Eurasian watermilfoil that is outcompeting native vegetation.
Chittenango Creek runs from Nelson Swamp to Oneida Lake. Chittenango Creek is one of the more popular trout fishing streams in Central New York. It is also home to a 167-foot waterfall located in Chittenango Falls State Park that brings in thousands of tourists each year. Protecting the water quality of this trout stream and maintaining public access are important to both residents and visitors to the area, said Magee.
The legislation was introduced in the two state houses in January at the suggestion of the Cazenovia Area Community Development Association in order to make Cazenovia eligible for more grant opportunities, said CACDA Executive Director Lauren Lines.
“We try to be as proactive as possible in seeking funding opportunities for local priorities and were pleased that our state representatives have been so supportive,” Lines said. “Cazenovia Lake and Chittenango Creek are two important local resources. The funding that could become available to our community through this program would help to plan and implement projects to improve public access and enjoyment of these resources.”
Mayor Kurt Wheeler said these potential grant opportunities could benefit the Lakeland Park Master Plan project — especially the village’s plan to renovate and/or rebuild significant portions of the stone wall surrounding the park and swim area — as well as “other lake efforts.”
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.