Erosion threatening Sylvan Beach as tourist season begins

Erosion is a very serious concern along the eastern shore of Oneida Lake in Sylvan Beach in Oneida County. Right now the beach should be 140 feet wide. Instead it's 60 feet and the water level is two feet higher than normal according to Joe Benedict, the Sylvan Beach village manager. This all comes in the wake of the recent torrential rains in Central New York. What's normally a beach is under water right now in the area.

Benedict says the water is threatening seasonal homes along the shore. It could also have a negative impact on what's supposed to be a big tourist weekend. Right now Oneida Lake is closed to boaters because of the high water levels. This weekend is the start of the walleye-pike season. Also, the amusement park is scheduled to open this weekend. "The sole purpose of Sylvan Beach is tourism," Benedict said.

The erosion has been a problem at Sylvan Beach since 1916, but in the last few years it has accelerated. Since the area is flat, more rain could bring more problems.

"Sometimes the water will come up six inches and the shoreline moves 50 feet," Benedict said. "So if it comes up just a bit here with it so flat, the water could be across the village."

Bob Rogers who lives about 100 feet from the beach half of the year knows all about the erosion. Last year his wife had to get rid of a ton of sand. "Not an easy thing to do by hand," he said.

The village is in the process of rebuilding the beach and plans to add 50,000 cubic yards more this fall. A state grant is paying for the project which is scheduled to be complete next year.

Benedict says the village hasn't seen the impact of all the rain yet because it takes a few days for the water levels to catch up. They don't know how the extra water will effect the project yet. People in the village including Benedict, hope the rain will stop soon. Benedict says, "The damage will just increase. Who knows when it will end."