DEC gives $1.6 million to central New York parks, projects

Published Oct 4, 2015 at 9:00am

ALBANY — The New York State Department of Conservation and the Office of parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) has announced $1.6 million to improve access to several popular recreational sites in Central New York.

Money is going towards the rehabilitation of Onondaga Lake, once considered the most polluted lake in the United States.

Upgrades in Onondaga’s County’s wastewater treatment operations have improved water quality standards to where the northern two-thirds of the lake may be used for swimming.

The lake also supports a wide range of human recreation uses, including a fishery that features 53 species of fish. Other projects include the following:

• Loop-to-Lake Trail Extension: the state will provide $750,000 to extend the Loop-To-Lake Trail between the Lake View Amphitheater and the Onondaga lake shoreline, including docking for boat access to the amphitheater and trail system.

Onondaga County is designing plans to connect the current terminus of the West Side Trail near there State Fair Parking Lot to the boat launch site. Future plans include extending the trail southward to the City of Syracuse Creekwalk.

• Onondaga Lake Fishing Tournament: Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced plans to hold a fishing tournament on Onondaga Lake in 2016 to build upon recreational opportunities on the lake which include the Lake View Amphitheater, West Shore Trail and the proposed boat launch.

• Public Boat Launch and Visitor Center: Honeywell Corporation is funding the design and construction of a 30-vehicle boat launch and visitor center through a previously negotiated Environmental Benefit Project.

The center includes shoreline fishing access, a trailer boat launch, kayak car-top launch and parking for 30 vehicles with trailers and additional parking for cars only.

The launch will be located at the end of Route 690 by Exit 7 near the State Fairgrounds. It will be maintained by the DEC and Onondaga County and will begin to be built in 2017.

The DEC/State Parks partnership has also granted $630,000 to the following CNY access projects:

• Improved access to Cazenovia Lake at Helen L. McNitt State Park (Madison County): State Parks will complete a $90,000 project to improve access to Cazenovia Lake in a project which will include a stone dust walkway from the parking area to a set of wooden stairs.

It will also include a boardwalk which will connect to a platform used for canoe and kayak launching, scenic viewing and bird-watching. The walkways and stairs will help protect the natural shoreline from erosion and lake sedimentation that occurs from the existing trail.

The Town of Cazenovia designed the project and State Parks will oversee construction expected to begin in spring 2016. The 133-acre Helen L. McNitt State Park is the largest piece of undeveloped property on Cazenovia Lake.

Other projects include a $300,000 reconstruction of the Mudlock Boat Launch on the north shore of Cayuga Lake and a $250,000 construction of a year-round, universal fishing access which connects Sandy Pond to Lake Ontario in Oswego County.

The Sandy Pond facility will include designated parking, a boat ramp and a floating canoe/kayak boat launch. It will be ready for ice fishing in 2016.

Gov. Cuomo is leading the state to improve and expand access to outdoor recreation through his NY Parks 2020 program. The state has committed to leverage $900 million to state parks from 2011 to 2020. The Executive Budget allocates $110 million toward the initiative in 2015-16.