Onondaga Lake dreams: What would you like a cleaner lake to be?

This week Paul Riede, reporter for The Post-Standard, wrote a great article about Onondaga Lake and what citizens want for the lake. F.O.C.U.S. Greater Syracuse has had a team of interns researching, evaluating and assessing reports on citizens visions for the lake dating back to 1928 as well as collecting surveys on what today’s citizens want. You can hear their findings at tomorrow’s Core Group Meeting (7:30 a.m. at City Hall).

Here’s an excerpt from the article taken from syracuse.com:

In a 1928 report proposing a parkway around Onondaga Lake, Joseph A. Griffin said working to reclaim the polluted lake was one of his “keenest pleasures.”

“In my travels overseas, I have viewed the beauty of the lakes of Scotland, Ireland, Switzerland, Germany and Italy and have seen what has been done in these countries in providing for all time the enjoyment of these gifts of nature,” he wrote. “We can have equal opportunities in Onondaga County.”

Griffin, chairman of the Boulevard-Parkway Committee, envisioned far more than just a road around the lake. His report included plans for bathing beaches; fishing and canoeing; horse trails; playing fields and crew races. He saw an “aerodrome and aviation school” at Lakeview Point, on the western shore, and a seamless connection between the state fairgrounds and the lake.

The revitalized lake would draw “thousands of Onondagans and hundreds of thousands of tourists,” he predicted.

Griffin was hardly alone in his lake dreams. Even as generations of Syracusans stood by as industrial waste and municipal sewage piled up in the water and along the shore, they imagined bringing back the glory days at the turn of the 20th century, when packed steamers and trolleys took people to the resorts, amusement parks and beaches that dotted the western shore.

The glory days never returned, of course. The lake just kept getting dirtier.

Now, as Honeywell International Inc. digs contaminated muck out of the lake around the clock and the company, the county and the state promise a clean lake within the decade, the county is revisiting those dreams and trying to add to them.

FOCUS Greater Syracuse, using a $20,000 grant from the county, has taken another look at dozens of studies generated over the years that include citizen hopes for the lake. And it has circulated and collected 1,100 questionnaires asking people what their hopes are.

Continue reading the entire article on Onondaga Lake Dreams.


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