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Environment & Science

New Onondaga Lake Boat Launch & Dock Honors Key Figure in Cleanup and Indicates Progress

Chris Bolt/WAER News

A new recreational feature on Onondaga Lake is being seen as a way to get people more connected with the waterway, while honoring one of its champions.  The Ken Lynch Boat Launch not only indicates progress in the lake’s cleanup, officials say, it also shows an increase in the lake’s value to the community. 

While it might be just a boat launch, it makes a statement about how far Onondaga Lake has come … and how people can increasingly enjoy the lake.  The launch will be built on the West Shore of the lake, near the state fairgrounds.  State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos says the dock reflects the lake being its cleanest in 100 years.

Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News / WAER FM
Ground was ceremoniously broken Wednesday for the boat launch, which will be adjacent to the Honeywell visitors center, near the State Fairgorunds

“We think about a lake that’s un-swimmable, unfishable, you can’t get to it, that restoration, it’s not an understatement to say it came together because of Ken’s work.  And took this incredible pollution story and turned it into an international success story that we can celebrate on Earth Week.”

State Senator Rachel May re membered the lake’s spiritual importance to the Onondaga Nation only to have it end up a polluted superfund site, with which people lost touch.

“The effort to loop the lake, to bring the (Erie) Canal trail through here, people from the city can start to take ownership of this lake and really feel that it is ours.”

For his part, Lynch always envisioned people gaining access to the water and the shores at that site

Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News / WAER FM
Ken Lynch (L) was honored by the boat launch, in recognition of years of work on the Onondaga Lake cleanup.

“Even when the lake was polluted you’d drive by this site and you’d see people out here just looking at the lake.  Almost every day when I drove home I would see people out looking at the lake.  And I said someday that spot is going to be where people come to access the lake.”

He credited teamwork, from officials and citizens, to improve the lake. 

“Besides being a cleanup success, this lake also happens to be 90-plus percent publicly owned.  So we’re looking at a natural resource asset that we can all enjoy.”

Lynch adds the science shows the lake’s water has improved to safe pollution levels.

“Yes, you can swim in the lake; yes the data proves you can swim in the lake.  It’s part of the work.  It’s not just doing the cleanup, but demonstrating that the cleanup is effective.  And the job is not done.  There’s a lot of projects we still need to do.  And we have to make sure the cleanup continues and we continue to see the results in the ware quality, the fish, and the surroundings.” 

The launch will allow people to back boats on trailers down into the water, or launch kayaks and canoes.  It will also include picnic and boat-cleaning areas, a fishing deck with universal accessibility, and eventually the loop-the-lake trail will pass through. 

The facility is being built by Honeywell, as part of the entire lake cleanup agreement.