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OWASCO | A dog park. A year-round, waterside restaurant. Frequent summer concerts.

Those were some of the ideas raised Wednesday evening during a public hearing at the Emerson Park Pavilion held to gauge what Cayuga County residents want from the historic park and what should be included in its soon-to-be updated master plan.

Steve Lynch, director of the Cayuga County Department of Planning & Economic Development, started off the meeting by summarizing past efforts to re-imagine the park. In the most recent plan, created in 2001, he said too much focus was placed on plotting out exactly how every inch of Emerson Park should be used.

By updating the plan, Lynch explained the planning department hopes to create a blueprint that is "realistic, objective and publicly driven" — one that can be accomplished in five years.

To start creating an updated master plan, the more than 50 people in attendance divided into three focus groups.

Led by planning department personnel, each of the three groups chewed on two topics: accessibility and activities.

Most attendees expressed satisfaction with the number of parking spaces available at Emerson Park. Many suggested opening one of the park's often-closed bridges. And most participants agreed the access roads into and within the park were too narrow.

As many attendees nodded, Meg Vanek, executive director of the Cayuga County Office of Tourism, suggested that Emerson Park should advertise its presence more within the city of Auburn.

"I work in downtown," she said. "People don't know where Emerson Park is."

When it came to activities, attendees' suggestions ranged from vague to detailed.

Many participants raised the idea of building both a lakeside restaurant and hotel/conference center. Along with hosting public concerts, movies and dances, many attendees suggested the recently renovated pavilion should be used more.

A group of veterans, all wearing baseball caps commemorating their service, said a memorial for Vietnam veterans should be built.

After the ideas of each focus group were summarized and shared, Lynch said participants had given his department plenty to discuss.

"I walked around and everybody in the groups participated," he said. "Everyone had something to say, and that's really came out here today."

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Staff writer Samantha House can be reached at (315) 282-2282 or Follow her on Twitter @Citizen_House.