Onondaga County is undertaking a study beginning this spring to explore the feasibility of building a beach on historic Onondaga Lake, likely at Willow Bay. County officials also hope to learn just how much it might cost.
A 2015 report by the nonprofit Upstate Freshwater Institute indicated that the waters in the northern two-thirds of the lake are safe for swimming.
The county will use most of a $330,000 state grant for the feasibility study, said Travis Glazier, the county’s environment director. “You should be excited about the potential because the lake has come so far,” Glazier told members of the county Legislature’s Environmental Protection Committee a couple months ago. “Twenty years ago, folks would have kind of chuckled to think we’d be here.”
He’s right. After living with that stinking lake in our backyards for decades, I never thought I’d see this day!
It has been nearly 80 years since bathers could swim in Onondaga Lake from a public beach. Decades of industrial pollution and sewage outflow destroyed any hope of public access until recent years, following a multi-million-dollar cleanup of the lake once considered the most polluted in the country.
Two years ago, Onondaga County issued a report proclaiming the northern two-thirds of the lake safe for swimming, and quickly secured the $300K-plus grant to move the plan forward.
Last week, the legislature’s Environmental Protection Committee formally accepted the state grant and to kick in $110,000 of county personnel time. The beach study resolution now goes to the Ways and Means Committee before the full legislature votes. If approved, a study could begin this summer and be done by winter.
“That funding is going to provide us information about the engineering aspects, the water quality, the realities of keeping sand in place, where infrastructure is,” Glazier said. “You need changing rooms, showers, bathrooms, things like that.”
With info gathered from the study, the county can decide whether to proceed with construction of a beach.
Glazier hopes that a revitalization of the lakeshore will please members of the Onondaga Nation, who consider the lake sacred and have characterized cleanup efforts as too little too late.
“People have legacy concepts,” Glazier said, “and our hope is that people increasing their exposure to being around the lake and enjoying that natural resource which has been returned to them will allow them to open their minds up a little bit.”
Glazier said swimming on the shores of the lake is the next logical step following decades of disputes and Honeywell’s recent cleanup of the lake.
“Everybody who’s seen the county spend upwards of $750 million improving the water, [plus] Honeywell’s half a billion dollars invested in cleaning up Onondaga Lake, it makes sense in my opinion to allow people to utilize the natural resource again, to use it for swimming,” Glazier said. “That was always the idea.”
Over at Nichols Supermarket, longtime employee Becky O’Brien now manages the delicatessen. She recently worked adjacent to the deli in the Nichols bakery, where she surely earned her promotion to the management team.
Last Thursday, the deli’s hot menu items included apple-sausage stuffing, Spanish rice, pork and gravy, onion rings, roasted chickens and a handful of marked-down slices of breakfast pizza. Sandwich of the week was a BLT sub. They also offer a wide variety of fresh salads, hot soups, cheeses and cold cuts. And don’t forget to spice up your private parties and picnics with gourmet party platters and a la carte hors d’oeuvres.
Beck’s open to new ideas, too.
“If you have any ideas about what we do or what we can do better,” she said, “please let me know.” Call Nichols at (315) 457-2151; nicholsliverpool.com.
Award-winning actor Liam Fitzpatrick, who lives in Liverpool, stars in the title role in an updated version of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” continuing at 8 p.m., Thursday, Friday and Saturday, May 17, 18 and 19, at CNY Playhouse, located near the Macy’s entrance at on the second level of ShoppingTown Mall. Tickets cost $17 on Thursday and Sunday and $20 on Friday and Saturday; cnyplayhouse.org; (315) 885-8960.
“If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans for the future.” – Unknown.
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