Onondaga Lake west shore trail becomes more costly

A recreation trail along the shore of Onondaga Lake just became more expensive.

On Tuesday, Onondaga County legislators went along with a $1 million cost overrun for an extension of the west shore nature trail. In 2007, lawmakers approved extending the existing trail by 2.3 miles. It includes the construction of a pedestrian bridge over a creek not far the state Fairgrounds. At the time, the project was projected to cost $3.5 million but now it's expected to cost $4.5 million.

Originally, Onondaga County taxpayers would not have to shell out any money for the trail extension, but yesterday the legislature approved the additional million dollar expenditure. Because most of the extra costs would be borne by the federal government, Onondaga County's share would be $200,000.

Legislator Chester Dudzinski was the only legislator to oppose the cost overrun. Dudzinski told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon that he supports the project but can not justify spending extra money on it when many taxpayers are having a tough time making ends meet. Dudzinski says not everyone can take advantage of the trail especially senior citizens.

The trail is seen as centerpiece to the overall cleanup of Onondaga Lake. Deputy County Executive Matt Millea envisions a recreation trail that would eventually encircle the lake to accommodate hikers, nature lovers and bicyclists. He says the lake will become a tourist attraction in the coming years.

The west trail extension will allow visitors to walk or bicycle from the northern end of the lake to the Honeywell Visitor Center near the State Fairgrounds. It's expected to open to the public in November.