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Onondaga County opens new park on Otisco Lake

Ellen Abbott

Onondaga County has a new park. A small swath of land along Otisco Lake is now open for visitors.

The new Otisco Lake Park, is made up of nearly 35 acres of land along the southern shore of the closest Finger Lake to Syracuse. Onondaga County Parks Commissioner Brian Kelley called it a thing of natural beauty.

"The way it lays out in terms of its relation with the lake is spectacular," Kelley said. "It’s quiet. And the species of plant life and trees is robust and the mix makes it beautiful."

Jim Walsh, a trustee with the Finger Lakes Land Trust said wildlife is abundant as well.

"This is a low land area," Walsh said. "It’s marshy. You’ll see mink, eastern painted turtles, herons, and ducks, and woodcock, and all kinds of critters."

The county acquired the land with help from the state department of environmental conservation after the Finger Lakes Land Trust acquired it from a local family.

While accessible by kayak, for now, the park won’t have any picnic tables or other traditional park infrastructure, but the county won’t rule that out. And Tim Creamer, president of the Otisco Lake Preservation Association said it can be used to educate visitors about the lake that supplies much of the drinking water for Onondaga County.

"That’s one thing people don’t appreciate, Creamer said. "Our goal is to have educational experiences out here and not only appreciate the view, but appreciate the function."

Kelley said the layout of the park is to be determined on an as-needed basis. With no benches or tables, Kelley said the park will have a life of its own.

"We’re happy to open it, but we’ll see what kind of life it takes on, Kelley said. "If it calls for something like that down the road we’re flexible, we’ll look at that stuff. But right now we’ll leave it as it is, and allow folks to come out and enjoy nature.”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.