$30 million for Onondaga Lake: Matt's Memo

Before summertime crowds populated Onondaga Lake Park on a sunny summer's day we would rev up the people carrying trams and race one against the other half way down the trail. Unfortunately, park management knew there would be a temptation for college age temporary parks workers to push the envelopes on these stretched out vehicles designed to putter along barely above a jogging pace. They put something in the engines to limit the speed. That something tended to smell a little like smoke as we tried to max them out.

That was in the mid-1980's. The park trail had been closed to traffic for close to ten years by that time. The days of people driving their cars through the park were receding into the past. A new age of cycling, roller blading and running was at hand. That was up and down the east shore trail from Griffin Field to the boat house. Around that same period the west shore trail was opened and accessible. We wondered if one day the trail would circle more if not all of the lake.

It is getting closer. Heavy construction work has pushed the west shore trail ever closer to the stretch near the State Fairgrounds. Today Governor Andrew Cuomo revealed $30 million dollars is in the budget to improve the infrastructure and functionality of the area around the lake. He has not yet named specifics, although they will likely come next week as he stands alongside Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney to announce a new plan.

The lake is already far cleaner than it has been in a century. It is trying to shed the title of most polluted lake in America. It has been an underutilized resource if not a near total waste for decades at a time. The weight of industrial pollution and untreated sewage runoff had been too much to bear. But, we are now turning a new corner.

Let's hope some of that $30 million will help connect the trail into a full loop. It will create an outdoor recreational attraction. A loop around the lake will also look awful nice in the brochure for the new Inner Harbor project that should be soon getting off the ground.


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