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      Discount leases of taxpayer land continue on Onondaga Lake

      Onondaga Lake Marina

      Two controversial lease agreements for land on Onondaga Lake will continue.

      Onondaga County lawmakers in the Ways and Means Committee approved a deal to renew the 25 year lease for the site of the Onondaga Yacht Club at the Onondaga Lake Marina. There had been concerns that the previous lease agreement was too generous to the Yacht Club. However, the Onondaga County Parks Department says the discount lease rate is worth it, because the Yacht Club has been there for more than 100 years, and provides a service to people coming to Onondaga Lake Park.

      Under the new agreement, the Yacht Club would pay $1,800 per year, which is still several thousand dollars below the current market value. The lease payment would increase by $50 for each year of the 25 year agreement. The Yacht Club owns the building, but the taxpayers own the land.

      Lawmakers also approved a 25 year lease with Syracuse University for the use of the boat house on the northern outlet of Onondaga Lake where it meets the Seneca River. SU and area high schools use the facility for various crew meets and practice. This new lease agreement will cost SU $9,000 per year. That cost will increase by $200 each year for 25 years. In this case, the boat house is owned by Onondaga County on land that is part of Onondaga Lake Park.

      In both cases, the new lease agreements are essentially continuations of the old deal.

      Both plans can be renegotiated every five years. Lawmakers expressed some concern about continuing the discounted rate, saying the property could be worth significantly more once the cleanup project is finished on Onondaga Lake. The deals can be renegotiated at that time.