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Group studies Onondaga Lake use - past & future


Before deciding what the Onondaga Lake shoreline should look like in the future, FOCUS, is looking  at what the community has wanted in the past. The community group that is creating  a roadmap for the future of the polluted lake's shore, has issued a preliminary report documenting 84 years of studies of the lake.

Graduate student Cat Foley and her team have been pouring over engineer, government and non-profit reports dating back to 1928.  All of them have suggestions about how to use  the shoreline of Onondaga Lake, one of the most polluted lakes in the country.  Foley says hands down, the most popular suggestions through the years have involved recreation -- calling for  hiking trails and access to swimming.  But nothing seemed to get done.

"There were these very thought out plans that were done and never implemented," said Foley. "I suppose that jumped out -- how many different visions have been not just generalized visions, but very specific ways that people have wanted to shape the shoreline, and it hasn't come to manifest itself."

Foley wonders if things could be changing, noting that Onondaga County has approved funding for a "loop the lake" trail that includes improvements to the west shore trail and  a pedestrian bridge on the lake's southwest shoreline.

"Half those desires are already being implemented so we have that momentum going forward, and I think that's what makes a big difference," Foley said.

FOCUS is in the midst of analyzing more than 1,100 surveys about the future of the lakeshore, that will be released early next year. This comes as Honeywell is embarking on a Lake restoration project that is taking two million cubic yards of polluted sediment out of the bottom of the lake.