Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney unveiled preliminary plans Wendesday for a $100 million revitalization of the west shore of Onondaga Lake. It was the first and possibly only public meeting on the massive project, which was first announced in late January with a visit from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The centerpiece of the plan includes a 17,500 seat amphitheater, in addition to a smaller-scale community amphitheater for public use, open space for festivals, as well as construction of pedestrian and bike paths from the State Fairgrounds down Bridge Street and along Milton Avenue in Solvay. Mahoney says the area's history is not forgotten as they find ways to reclaim the site.
"This community supported all of our families. Everybody who's been here for a long time in some way has been touched by the industry that was here in Solvay. And when that industry went away, we as a community haven't done what we ought to do and come back and make sure we're ready for the next one. When they see we're not only doing things like cleaning up, but we're going to make this beautiful engineering project so this village can open itself up to that whole side of the lake and benefit, it's very exciting."
The Onondaga Nation and several other groups have voiced concern over the one-month review and comment period, mainly over the amphitheater site. They say it's not enough time for citizens to ask questions. The groups are asking for a 90-day comment period and at least two more public hearings.
"Citizens deserve the opportunity to review, ask questions, and comment upon a project that is being funded by tax dollars on public land," said Sarah Eckel with Citizens Campaign for the Environment.
The groups also say the county is presuming that human exposure to contaminants will be properly controlled through a site remediation plan that hasn't been drafted yet, let alone reviewed by the state DEC.
Others have concerns about poor site choice, lack of a business plan, and noise and traffic impacts during large events.
A virtual tour of the proposed project is at ongov.net, where questions or comments can also be submitted.