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Syracuse-area Residents Voice Opinions Regarding Possible Beach on Onondaga Lake

Scott Willis/WAER News

It probably comes as no surprise that Syracuse-area residents have differing opinions about the idea of putting a beach and swimming area on Onondaga Lake.  Dozens gathered yesterday at Destiny USA to learn more about the feasibility study underway, and to offer their own input. 

Linda Glowacki of Liverpool says she uses Onondaga Lake Park almost every day, and lets her dog swim in the lake.  She’s concerned if a beach were located inside the park.

“I like the park for some of the quiet sections, which are getting devoured every year. I think it would affect the character of the park – probably more parking would go in, beach houses probably would draw more people to certain sections there,” Glowacki said.

Glowacki is also worried about the cost to the county and residents.  It’s clear that part of the challenge will be to overcome the lingering perception of the lake as polluted.  Michaela Kenward is a SUNY ESF Graduate student studying fish.

“I work out there every day in the summer. People, when I tell them that, their responses are ‘Ew, that’s gross do you see fish with two heads?’ And those are all just false ideas. I think that a beach could really change that perception, but I don’t know if it will,” Kenward said.

Credit Scott Willis/WAER News
One of two locations being considered for the beach.

Since Syracuse resident Misse Ross was young, she was advised to stay away from the lake.

“My mom growing up in Liverpool was like, ‘do not touch that water.’ I mean I thought your hand would fall off from the way she made it seem. So, these are things we were told over and over and over, so it’s hard to break out of that,”  said Ross.

“I think that’s generational because people who grew up here – I mean I’m an outsider so maybe that’s part of it,” Kenward said. “But if you grew up here and you remember what it looked like 20 years ago, you wouldn’t want to go swim in that, even if it looks different now.”

Kenward wants residents to take what scientists say seriously because the lake is nothing like it was.  Ross also expressed concern about the impact of traffic and parking on the village.  Onondaga County will continue its public engagement efforts in the weeks and months ahead.  The feasibility study should be complete by year’s end.