Could Completed Trail be Loop Back to the Past for Onondaga Lake?

Jul 18, 2016

Onondaga residents enjoy the lakeside trail in Onondaga Lake Park.
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News

  Local residents who like the idea of a trail around Onondaga Lake might like to know about a federal program that could help complete it.  After years of a construction stalemate, Onondaga County has applied for a federal transportation grant that would pay most of the cost of finishing the 13-mile loop.  Senator Chuck Schumer was in Syracuse on Monday touting the benefits of completing the trail.

 “The completed trail network would provide uninterrupted access to the lake’s unique, natural, recreational, and economic amenities. Connecting the Onondaga Creek walk-trail system which spans the urban core of the city of Syracuse to the northern and western suburbs would also be accomplished in our “Loop to Lake” project. Linking the amphitheater with Destiny USA, the inner harbor to willow bay, all would happen under this project.”

New York senator Charles Schumer and County Executive Joanie Mahoney announce their plans to complete the "Loop to Lake" project.
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News

  Schumer says he will push for the 10 million dollar grant, which is part of the transportation bill.  He believes the loop would be a testament to the lake cleanup, which has involved hundreds of millions of dollars of public and private money.  

County Executive Joanie Mahoney revealed tourist research, showing people do utilize such trails, then spend money in local businesses and restaurants. She did however, acknowledge obstacles that stand in the way of the project, and would continue to even if the construction was fully funded.

“Having the most polluted lake in the Unites States is terrible. There is only one benefit and that is that the shoreline is owned by the public. And we can traverse the whole lake. These are issues with Onondaga Lake parkway. But no matter what the final solution is for the parkway, we have a way around it. We can either use a boardwalk, or if they narrow the road there will be land available.”

Child rides her bike along the lake.
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News

  Mahoney says if the federal grant comes through, county lawmakers will likely approve the remaining three million dollars for the project.  Another portion of the trail is expected to be completed in 2017, possibly finishing the entire loop in 2018.