Sylvan Beach closed to swimmers because of algae concerns


Sylvan Beach and Oneida Beach will remain closed for swimming this weekend after algae samples taken from Sylvan Beach tested positive for blue-green algae.

Oneida County Department of Health Director Daniel Gilmore said blue-green algae can cause eye, skin, throat and respiratory irritations. Gilmore said the beaches will not re-open until it clears. The county will take a sample again on Monday morning if the water is clear. Gilmore said New York State's lab in Albany has made it a high priority and the beaches will open as soon as a tests no longer show blue-green algae.

On Friday, the beach closure was frustrating to many families who wanted to swim and for businesses who depend on tourism. Other Sylvan Beach attractions were open but crowds were very small compared to a normal July day.

Some people on the beach said they weren't concerned with the algae and planned to swim anyways. Cindy Tipa grew up in Madison County but now lives in New Zealand and says the U.S. just has too much red tape. Tipa said she understood why the county was concerned but said she didn't feel the lake was unsafe.

"When I was a kid, it was way worse and we got in there and I think people are really overprotective and paranoid nowadays," said Tipa.

Sylvan Beach is off limits to swimmers, because lifeguards are not able to see to the bottom of the lake due to a heavy amount of algae.

Village of Sylvan Beach officials tell CNY Central that people are still allowed to boat on the water, but swimming is not allowed because of the safety hazard.

The Oneida County Health Department took a sample of the water to take to Albany for testing. The village is hoping to get results from the health department on Friday afternoon.

In the meantime, business owners we've talked with say the algae situation has greatly improved. They say they're upset the beach has not been opened yet because it's hurting their business.

The village is also holding out hope the beach will re-open for the weekend. Friday morning, village officials said the water is 'looking better', but could not comment on when the beach might re-open.

The State Parks Department says that the Verona Beach State Park swim area is also closed because of the same algae bloom.