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Source: Syracuse Post-Standard

How to remake Onondaga Lake's shore? State DEC seeks public imput on plan


Posted: January 13, 2010
Originally Published: January 13, 2010

Syracuse, NY - Got a favorite fish you’d like to cast for? Looking for a new place to watch birds?

Now is your chance to make suggestions about the vegetation, wildlife, recreation areas and other elements of a restored shoreline along Onondaga Lake.

For the first time in decades, lake planners are getting ready to make the southern shore of the lake into a healthy habitat where plants, wildlife and even people would want to hang out.

It’ll be years before that happens — first much of the sediment along the lake shore has to be dredged or capped — but planning for habitat restoration is under way.

Now is your chance to make suggestions.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation will solicit public comments on a draft habitat restoration plan during a 5 p.m. meeting Thursday at the Art and Home Center at the state fairgrounds in Geddes.

During the meeting, DEC officials also will accept comments on a draft plan to bury as much as 2.6 million cubic yards of dredged sediment at a lined 160-acre site known as Allied Waste Bed 13 in Camillus.

Both initiatives are part of Honeywell International’s $451 million plan to clean up pollution of the lake, which stems from a 2006 settlement with the state. Elements of the complex plan are being evaluated in stages before DEC signs off on the details.

Dredging is expected to begin in 2012 and continue through 2016.

At about 6 p.m. during Thursday’s meeting, DEC officials will organize participants into four group discussions depending on their area of interest: the sediment consolidation area in Camillus; habitat to promote fishing and lake access; habitat to promote plants, wetlands and recreation; and habitat to promote wildlife and birds.

“This is a new type of forum that we’re doing,” said Diane Carlton, speaking for DEC. “We’re trying to get the community more involved, because the habitat plan is one of the key parts of the lake cleanup that people are really interested in.”

Comments from each group will considered for inclusion in the final draft of the habitat plan, Carlton said.

People unable to attend the meeting can send written comments by Feb. 16 on the habitat plan to Donald Hesler at djhesler@gw.dec.state.ny.us.

Comments on the sediment consolidation area should be sent by Jan. 31 to Timothy Larson at tjlarson@gw.dec.state.ny.us.

Comments on either subject can also be addressed to the appropriate person at NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, 12th floor, Albany, 12233.

The Community Participation Working Group, which was established in August to facilitate public input in the lake remediation plans, will help collect additional comments from the public at its meeting Feb. 4, said Dereth Glance, who chairs the group. The meeting is set for 4 p.m. at the Art and Home Center.